Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville confirmed Viktor Stalberg will return to the lineup for Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS), and center Michael Handzus will play, but the forward lines could look a little different than they have in the first two games of the series.
Stalberg skated on a line with Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell during the morning skate Monday at Joe Louis Arena. If that happens, Dave Bolland likely will return to the second line -- where he also spent a good chunk of the regular season -- which would leave Handzus to play on the fourth line. Quenneville did not confirm that Daniel Carcillo is the odd-man out up front, but based on the morning skate he appears to be.
"We all need to be better and we expect everybody to be much better," Quenneville said. "It is across the board. We need more predictability in our game and we need to better in certain areas of the ice."
The seventh-seeded Red Wings dominated the top-seeded Blackhawks in Game 2 at United Center, evening the series with a 4-1 victory. It essentially was a reversal from Game 1 -- Chicago dominated possession of the puck in the opener, but Detroit pushed back in Game 2 and did the same.
"I thought in the last game we had a big gap between the forwards and the defensemen," Chicago forward Marian Hossa said. "We couldn't get the pass from our zone really quick like in Game 1. In Game 1 we felt everyone was connecting, but [in Game 2] they did a good job in the neutral zone.
"We just have to get back on the same page with the forwards and the defense, maybe come back a little deeper. They are so quick, so we have to be even quicker. I think the first pass from our zone is really important for us."
One of the themes of the opening round for Red Wings coach Mike Babcock was he felt the longer the series went with the second-seeded Anaheim Ducks, the more it favored his team. The thinking was his team was younger and had less expectations, and the longer it went the more experience the Detroit kids accrued and the more pressure was placed on the Ducks.
The same could be said for this series, as well.
"It is a best-of-five now," Babcock said. "There wasn't much to pick between the two teams in the first two games. They were better than us in Game 1 and we were better than them in Game 2, so the series starts all over here [in Game 3]."