Viktor Stalberg

Viktor Stalberg looks to become Chicago’s next big goal scorer

When Viktor Stalberg arrived on the scene in Chicago after being traded from Toronto in the Kris Versteeg deal, he showed up as a guy with high speed and high potential. The former University of Vermont forward and Hobey Baker Award finalist came out of college as a big time goal scorer with the Catamounts and showed glimpses of that in his short time with the Maple Leafs.

After a full season in Chicago that saw Stalberg score 12 goals and 12 assists in 77 games, he’s hoping that after two NHL seasons that he’s on the road to becoming a bigger threat on the ice. For the Blackhawks’ sake, they wouldn’t mind having yet another weapon to trot out on the ice.

Chris Kuc of The Chicago Tribune spoke with Stalberg to gauge his thoughts on the upcoming season and what he would like to accomplish.

“There are some spots in the top six and there are some spots in the bottom six,” said Stalberg, who along with teammates Marcus Kruger and Niklas Hjalmarsson helped paint the Indian head logo on the United Center ice Wednesday. “I’m going to do everything I can to take one of those (top spots). If I don’t, I know I can go back and play that more physical game too. It’s good for our team and good for my career that I can play a couple of different roles.”

Stalberg’s blistering speed and offensive skills are the types of things meant to be on a top-six line, but his ability to finish is what holds him back. Stalberg admits that a lot of his shots just didn’t find their way in last season. CSNChicago’s Tracey Myers finds out from Stalberg that when the shots don’t go in, frustrations pick up.

“Anyone who says (the tough times) don’t affect them is lying. Some part of that stretch I was on the top line and it was frustrating because you want to score when you’re there. It was tough,” he said. “But I had a pretty good finish and that gives me confidence going into this year.”

Stalberg finished last season with a 8.9% shooting percentage and getting an uptick in that percentage this season could put Stalberg in as a 20-25 goal guy. Earning the minutes to make that happen will be his challenge.

Taking time to blossom is a lesson he can talk to a teammate about and learning what it takes as Patrick Sharp was slow to bloom into becoming a big time scorer in the NHL. Sharp’s first three seasons were relatively quiet ones with the Philadelphia Flyers and his first in Chicago as well.

Once he found his way, however, he became the key running mate for the likes of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Marian Hossa that we see today. Once Sharp had his first 20-goal season during his first full year in Chicago, he learned to not just pot goals but help others score as well turning him into one of Chicago’s most valuable scorers piling up 60+ points in three of the last four seasons including a career-high 71 last year.

If Stalberg can follow along that sort of path, the wealth of riches the Blackhawks will have going ahead into the future will be disturbing. One thing’s for sure, the fans in Chicago would love to see things play out that way. For Stalberg, he’ll have to keep working hard to make it happen.

Datsyuk ‘wants to make sure the Wings have options,’ says his agent

TAMPA, FL - APRIL 21:  Pavel Datsyuk #13 of the Detroit Red Wings checks his stick before a face-off against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period in Game Five of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on April 21, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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Pavel Datsyuk‘s future with the Detroit Red Wings and in the National Hockey League has been up in the air for a while now, as he’s linked to rumors of a return to Russia and the KHL.

His agent, Dan Milstein, recently explained to the Detroit Free Press that Datsyuk’s future should become clear in mid-June after meeting with Red Wings general manager Ken Holland.

As per General Fanager, Datsyuk has one more year left on his current deal, which comes with a cap hit of $7.5 million.

From the Detroit Free Press:

“He would like to leave, but at the same time, he wants to make sure the Wings have options,” Milstein said. “He wants to help the team any way he can with the salary cap issue.”

Wings general manager Ken Holland has said there are no loopholes. Because Datsyuk signed his last contract after he turned 35, his $7.5 million salary cap hit remains in tact even if Datsyuk departs. The Wings’ only option is to trade his contract to a team such as Arizona or Carolina that could use the hefty cap hit in order to be above the salary cap minimum.

At the age of 37, his career in the league started in 2001-02, and has spanned 953 regular season games in which he’s accrued 918 points.

He’s had a highly decorated career, with two Stanley Cup championships with the Red Wings, three Selke and four Lady Byng trophies.

Allen or Elliott? Another goalie decision looms for Hitchcock

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 23:  Jake Allen #34 of the St. Louis Blues tends goal against Nick Spaling #16 of the San Jose Sharks during the third period in Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 23, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The St. Louis Blues need to win Game 6 on Wednesday, or their season is over. Who they decide to turn to in net is likely to be a talking point — heated debate, maybe? — leading up to that contest.

Do they go back to Jake Allen for a third consecutive start, despite the fact he allowed four goals on 25 shots in Monday’s Game 5 loss to the San Jose Sharks? Or, will head coach Ken Hitchcock turn once again to Brian Elliott, who started every single game from the series opener of the first round versus Chicago to Game 3 of the Western Conference Final.

Hitchcock at least felt that going with Allen over Elliott in Game 4 provided the necessary spark for his team, as the Blues evened the series.

But on Monday, the Sharks, on the strength of two Joe Pavelski goals, eventually overpowered the Blues for the win, moving San Jose one victory away from the Stanley Cup Final.

“I thought he was fine. I don’t know, those are decisions we make in a day or so. But I thought he was fine today. He stopped some point-blank shots, especially early, three times early,” Hitchcock told reporters.

“I don’t know. That’s stuff we’ll talk about tomorrow.”

Feeding frenzy: Sharks send Blues to the brink of elimination in Western Conference Final

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The San Jose Sharks won a back-and-forth Game 5 to take back the lead in a back-and-forth Western Conference Final, moving one victory away from appearing in the Stanley Cup Final.

After scoring the tying goal late in the second period, Joe Pavelski notched his 12th of the playoffs to give San Jose the lead for good just 16 seconds into the third period.

The Sharks earned a 6-3 victory on the road, in a bounce-back effort from Saturday.

Twice, the Blues grabbed the lead. Troy Brouwer gave them the advantage in the first period, showing off his baseball skills by batting the puck into the net on a rebound. Robby Fabbri gave them another lead in the second period, making Roman Polak pay for snapping on Dmitrij Jaskin along the boards.

But the Blues couldn’t hold on. The Sharks scored twice on three power play opportunities and can now clinch the Western Conference on home ice in Wednesday’s Game 6.

As for the Blues, will Ken Hitchcock change up his starting goaltender again? It’s certainly an aspect of this series that will once again be up for debate leading up to Wednesday’s game.

After Brian Elliott had backstopped the Blues through the first two rounds and started the first three games of this series, Hitchcock decided to start Jake Allen in Game 4.

Allen recorded the win Saturday, and was called upon again in Game 5 as expected, but gave up four goals on 25 shots Monday.

Video: Sharks’ Polak snaps, Blues make him pay on the power play

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San Jose Sharks defenseman Roman Polak took serious issue with St. Louis Blues forward Dmitrij Jaskin during the second period, as the two eventually threw off the gloves off in a fight in the corner.

In the process, Polak let his emotions get the better of him — he snapped — by also taking a roughing minor to give the Blues a power play.

The Blues made him — and the Sharks — pay on a blast from Robby Fabbri, who was a game-time decision for Monday’s contest.

The Sharks tied the game at 3-3 before the end of the second period on Joe Pavelski‘s 11th of the playoffs. Pavelski struck again in the third period, giving San Jose the 4-3 lead.