Viktor Stalberg is trying to enjoy his time with the red-hot Chicago Blackhawks. As a pending unrestricted free agent, he knows there’s no guarantee he’ll be back next season.
“It’s hard not to think about sometimes, but you just have to play hard and show them your best side and see what happens,” Stalberg told the Chicago Tribune recently. “You can’t think about it too much. What matters is this year and what we’re doing with these guys. If this is my last year here, we want to go as far as possible and try to win it this year. That’s the focus.”
Stalberg, who happens to be one of the fastest skaters in the NHL, would draw considerable interest on the open market. The 27-year-old forward had 22 goals in 2011-12, his second season in Chicago, and has four goals in his first 18 games in 2013.
Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman admits that Stalberg “has played really well”; however, with the salary cap coming down to $64.3 million for 2013-14, the club will have limitations.
Suffice to say, Stalberg is in a position to demand more than the $875,000 he’s currently being paid, and he could also be offered a more prominent role on a team that isn’t quite so stacked with forward talent.
Auston Matthews’ 33rd goal includes a dash of comedy (Video)
This wouldn’t have been worth a chuckle if not for the correction. (Well, maybe a chuckle at Auston Matthews‘ expense.)
On the 33rd goal of his brilliant rookie season, Auston Matthews made it 2-0 for Toronto on the power play. Crusty “act like you’ve been there” types might grumble that he actually celebrated before a goal really happened, only to tap it in for real the second time around. The rest of us, again, get a mild chuckle.
William Nylander‘s pass was nothing to laugh at, however. That one just gets a big thumbs up.
Both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Toronto Maple Leafs have motivation to win their Wednesday game, but the Maple Leafs need it more.
So far, it shows, too.
The Maple Leafs have raced off to a 2-0 lead, with Auston Matthews scoring his 33rd goal of the season. If generating such offense didn’t highlight the urgency, Connor Carrick‘s huge hit on Josh Anderson makes a compelling argument. Witness that big impact in the video above.
There was also another high-impact moment when Nick Foligno went crashing into the boards:
Ouch, Blues consider Paul Stastny out week-to-week
Stastny generated 18 goals and 40 points in 66 games so far this season. He has played more of a defensive role this season (46.2 offensive zone start percentage after being closer to 50 earlier in his Blues days) and has been impressive in the dot, winning 53.8 of his faceoffs.
WATCH LIVE: Islanders at Rangers – Wednesday Night Rivalry
A night after a feisty matcuhup with the Devils, the Rangers host an even bigger rival in the Islanders at Madison Square Garden for Wednesday Night Rivalry on NBCSN.
As nasty as Tuesday’s contest got at times, this one means more.
While the Rangers seem pretty safely seated as the East’s first wild card, the Islanders stand three points behind the Maple Leafs for the final spot in the conference. They’ve seen other bubble teams stumble, so this is their chance to close in on Toronto in what might be a shrinking field of contenders.
Spiting the Islanders might just give the Rangers a little extra life on back-to-back nights … especially since their fans would probably let them have it if they sleepwalk through this one.
It should be a fun, physical and dramatic one on NBCSN. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App.