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Blackhawks’ Viktor Stalberg focusing on the task at hand, not his uncertain future
After two benchings and decreased minutes, Viktor Stalberg — an unrestricted free agent on July 5 — doesn’t know exactly what the future holds for him. But he can’t help but think that his difficult postseason will have an impact on whether he wants to be back with the Blackhawks, or whether the Hawks even want to bring him back.
“Yeah, it’s hard to argue that it doesn’t,” Stalberg said Saturday morning. “We’ll take that when the time comes. Right now, it’s about winning here with this group. And we can do something special here. You never know when your’e going to have a chance to be in the Final again, so you’ve got to do everything and leave everything out there right now. And we’ll figure that part out after the year.”
Stalberg was a healthy scratch for the first two games of the Hawks’ second-round series against Detroit, then for the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final against Boston. He returned for Game 3 at TD Garden and has seen a slight uptick in his minutes — averaging 10:38, still down from his regular-season average of more than 14 minutes. He had one shot on goal in each of the two games, skating on a line with Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw, and has had just four shots on goal in his last six games.
“I’m trying to get back in there,” he said. “I felt pretty comfortable right away. I felt pretty good in these two games, and our line’s been pretty effective. We haven’t scored, but we’ve taken it to them and had the puck in their end quite a bit. We’ve just got to keep doing that, and hopefully we can chip in on the scoreboard, too.”
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said Stalberg has handled the situation as well as can be expected.
“Nobody wants to miss games, everybody wants to play — especially this time of year,” Quenneville said. “We were telling Viktor at the top of the series, you could be coming in at the most important game of your life and our season, so be ready, keep yourself in the right frame of mind and have the right approach. I thought he’s been fine when he got injected into the lineup and I think he’s progressing on the right track.”