Chicago Blackhawks right wing Viktor Stalberg
will make his Stanley Cup Final debut Monday night at TD Garden in Game 3 against the Boston Bruins (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS). Stalberg is replacing Brandon Bollig
on the fourth line.
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said he's making the change in order to get more speed and energy into the Blackhawks' lineup as they look to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series. Stalberg is a speed guy, while Bollig is more of a physical player.
Bollig averaged 8:51 of ice time in Games 1 and 2, but his misplay of the puck along the wall in overtime of Game 2 directly led to Daniel Paille's winning goal.
"I think that he's a threat off the rush," Quenneville said of Stalberg. "I think Bollig gave us a couple real strong games. I thought he did a nice job. [With] Viktor, we're just looking for more. I think offensively, defensively, giving us some more in both those areas."
Stalberg may have to deliver more if he wants to stay in the lineup beyond Game 3. He has had a rough go in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with no goals and three assists in 15 games. In addition to being a healthy scratch for Games 1 and 2 of the Cup Final, Stalberg was a healthy scratch for Games 1 and 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Detroit Red Wings.
He played in 47 of 48 games during the regular season and had nine goals to go along with 14 assists for 23 points.
"I haven't had the same role as I had in the regular season and sometimes that's frustrating, but I also didn't score when I had the chance in the first series so it's a give and take," Stalberg said. "I have to be better, and hopefully I'll be able to come in here and make a difference in the rest of this Final."
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said he has spoken to Stalberg about keeping his chin up through the tough times in an effort to boost his confidence heading into this pivotal Game 3.
"Most of that talk is just pretty much telling him that the boys support him and want him out there with us to help us," Toews said. "We know he's the type of guy that can really help our team. He should have all the confidence in the world that he can go out there and make something happen for us.
"It's not always an easy thing when you've been sitting out a few games, especially with the ability he has as a player, but he's sacrificed a lot for this team and his teammates are very aware of it."
Stalberg admitted he struggles to be an effective player when he's limited to fourth-line minutes, which are usually around eight to 10 per game.
"It's not only hard for me, it's hard for anybody," he said. "If you ask Kaner [Patrick Kane] or Toews, they'd struggle with that, too. But you've gotta deserve your minutes, and clearly they didn't feel like I did. I'm going to do everything I can [Monday night] to get out there more, and if I'm out there more I'll try to help the team as much as possible."
Michael Frolik, the left wing on Chicago's fourth line, told NHL.com that Stalberg's speed should be able to give the Blackhawks an advantage over the Bruins' fourth line of Rich Peverley, Kaspars Daugavins and Shawn Thornton.
"He's got good offensive skills, and with that speed I think we can be dangerous, we can be a good line," Frolik said. "I think he's going to have a good jump, he's going to be ready."