As the preseason schedule winds down, the Blackhawks could be missing at least two of their forwards for the near future, as Head Coach Joel Quenneville said that both Viktor Stalberg and Ben Smith will miss time after sustaining injuries in Wednesday’s win over Detroit.
Stalberg, who left the game in the first period with a lower body injury, will likely miss three weeks, according to Quenneville.
“Stally’s looking at three weeks,” Quenneville said after the team’s practice Thursday. “He seemed okay this morning, but that’s probably what we’re looking at.”
The injury ends a solid preseason for the 25-year-old Swedish winger; Stalberg had earned positive reviews from the coaching staff for his play, particularly on Jonathan Toews’ line.
“He had a great camp,” said Quenneville on Stalberg. “He was skating well and had a little something going there on Johnny’s line. We don’t expect him to be too far away from coming back in terms of conditioning [once he recovers].”
Smith, meanwhile, was knocked out of the game in the third period in a collision with Detroit’s Brendan Smith. The Wings’ Smith was ejected from the game and could face supplemental punishment from the NHL.
“Ben’s okay… I guess okay,” Quenneville said. “We don’t want to put a timeline on him. It’s tough to say [when he could return].”
Though he didn’t miss any time last night, Quenneville also said that center Dave Bolland is currently day-to-day with an upper-body injury, unrelated to the injury that sidelined him for the tail end of last season.
With the injuries up front, it could open the door for a prospect such as Brandon Saad or Brandon Pirri – both still in camp with the team – to make the opening night roster. Quenneville did not elaborate on the choices in front of the coaching staff, but has spoken highly of both players’ performance throughout the exhibition season.
Quenneville had this to say when asked directly about Saad Thursday: “[He’s] been one of those guys where every game, you appreciate what he can do. He’s been useful every single time he’s on the ice. He continues to impress us.”
Sharp may return to practice Friday: Patrick Sharp, who has been sidelined since Sept. 12 following an appendectomy, skated on his own for the fifth straight day, according to Quenneville. He added that there is a “likelihood” that Sharp may rejoin the team for practice Friday.
News and notes: Ray Emery is expected to get the start in net for the Blackhawks Friday against Pittsburgh, and will play the entire game… Joel Quenneville said that Patrick Kane will once again line up at center for the game, as well.