Viktor Stalberg says he is ready to go.
But is Marlies coach Greg Gilbert ready to put one of the Leafs late-blossoming prospects into the lineup for Thursday’s pivotal Game 5 of the North Division quarter-final at the Ricoh?
Stalberg, a 23-year-old left-winger has been watching as the Marlies and Manitoba Moose split the first four games.
But the Marlies lost Game 4 by a score of 5-1 and Andre Deveaux and Jeremy Williams were among the forwards who did not distinguish themselves because of foolish penalties.
Gilbert has a complement of fresh horses that includes Stalberg and Alex Berry, like Stalberg a veteran of the US college system.
Gilbert had the traditional coach’s reserve on whether he will change the lineup. Whether or not he has decided yet is moot, he’s not saying.
It seems like an advantageous time to see what Stalberg can bring. Stalberg’s 24 goals put him fifth in NCAA goalscoring and he lifted Vermont to the Frozen Four for only the second time in the school’s history.
Stalberg, one of the rare Swedes to take advantage of the US college system, says he can take it either way.
“The guys played three pretty good games before that,” Stalberg said. “A bad game happens. If they want me to play I will be ready to go, but if it doesn’t happen, I will be happy to watch the game from the stands.”
The six-foot-three Stalberg said if he does play, he will go to the dirty areas.
“I think I like to battle down there and find loose pucks. Dallas (Director of Player Development Dallas Eakins) told me to try to score the ugly goals, not jut the rush goals. Most of the goals in the playoffs come off bounces, not the rush. I need to be strong and fight for pucks.”
Justin Pogge, meanwhile, is confident the Marlies can bounce back.
“We’re looking forward to tomorrow night’s game. We got that game out of our system. We just have to go back to simple hockey, banging and crashing, and hopefully we’ll come back with a win.”
The team’s lack of discipline, he said, was team-wide and can be fixed. The Marlies surrendered three power play goals in Game 4.
“It got a little out of control. It’s going to happen. It’s a heated series and guys are going to lose their temper. No one on our team is not guilty of it. I’m guilty of it and it goes all the way through hour lineup.”
The Marlies goalie said he noticed rough-hewn Jonas Frogren in the lineup after six weeks off with a leg injury.
“He was a big help on our blue line,” Pogge said. “He’s a killer to look at and I’m sure he’s a killer to play against.”