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Stalberg skates as extra at Blackhawks practice

by Brian Hedger /

CHICAGO -- Viktor Stalberg again appears to be out of the regular group of Chicago Blackhawks forwards.

After playing all five games of the Blackhawks' Western Conference Final victory against the Los Angeles Kings, Stalberg wasn't among the top 12 forwards at Chicago's workout Tuesday before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins at United Center (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS).

Brandon Bollig, who didn't play at all against the Kings, played left wing on the fourth line while Dave Bolland was bumped up to play on the third line with Brandon Saad and center Andrew Shaw.

"We had a discussion about it," Stalberg said on media day Tuesday, referring to a conversation with Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville. "I don't want to get into what was said in that, but I think this is what he wanted. He wanted a tougher lineup against them for the first game, so we'll take it from there. It's how it is right now."

After playing all five games of the Blackhawks' first-round series against the Minnesota Wild, Stalberg was scratched for the first two games of Chicago's conference semifinal series against the Detroit Red Wings. Detroit won Game 2 of that series at United Center, which prompted Stalberg's return to the third line, where he played all season, scoring nine goals and adding 14 assists in 47 games.

The Blackhawks fell into a 3-1 deficit against the Red Wings and had to win three straight before advancing to beat the Kings, all with Stalberg active. Stalberg hasn't scored a goal in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, though, and has three assists with a minus-1 rating. He also has 21 shots on goal in his 15 games.

"It's obviously frustrating, of course," Stalberg said. "You always want to play and help out and you do whatever you can for the group, but I haven't been producing the way I've wanted to and it's tough to do that when you're playing as little as I have been in the last five or eight games, or so. It's not easy when you get one or two shifts a period to make something happen. I've been doing what I can to help the group out. That's what I've been doing here and if I get back in I'll try to make a difference in the games I can play."

Quenneville also juggled his top two lines.

He put left wing Patrick Sharp and right wing Marian Hossa on the top line with center Jonathan Toews and bumped power forward Bryan Bickell, who had a great series against the Kings, down to left wing of the second line to play with center Michal Handzus and right wing Patrick Kane.

Quenneville was non-committal when asked about all the apparent lineup changes but said balance among the lines would be one of the factors should the lines stay this way for the series opener against the Bruins.

Stalberg is left wondering if he'll get a shot to play in his first Cup Final, and if he does, what he can do to ensure his place in the lineup.

"It's frustrating," he said. "You can get disappointed but you can't let that show too much. You've got to do everything you can for the group at this point and it's about winning. If Joel feels this is the way to win, so be it right now."

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