A frustrated Viktor Stalberg met with reporters again Friday and disputed various reports that he was benched for Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals against Detroit because he complained about power-play time in the first round.
“(I’ll) channel my inner (Ilya) Bryzgalov: Check your sources better, I guess,” Stalberg said. “No, that was not accurate.”
But a source Friday stood by the claim that Stalberg was unhappy with his power-play role, adding Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville also doesn’t like these two statistics when it comes to the winger: 1 goal in 18 career playoff games and 2 assists on the power play during the regular season in 47 games.
According to NHL.com, Stalberg saw 103 minutes and 6 seconds of power-play time during the regular season, 81.8 percent of the it skating with Hawks leading scorer Patrick Kane in 5-on-4 situations, and had no goals and 2 assists.
“It’s frustrating, obviously,” Stalberg said. “You can’t really make it too much about yourself, it’s about winning games right now — and we won. It was a good start to the series, that’s what it’s about right now.”
Stalberg didn’t want to go into too much detail about the conversation he had with Quenneville.
“We talked briefly,” he said. “It’s between us.
“It was kind of short and standard: be more intense out there and play harder. It’s nothing you’ve never heard before. Most guys, when they’re not playing get to hear that. Nothing too different, but he wants me to produce more and be more effective out there.
“I don’t think he’s probably happy with the way I played,” Stalberg said. “That seems to be the reason. You can’t really do anything else. Work hard and make a difference when I’m back in the lineup. I’ve been in these spots before, there’s not much you can do. You just keep digging into it and working your way back. It’s just the way of the business.”
Stalberg had 1 assist in the five games against Minnesota and was plus-2.
“I felt pretty good in the first series,” Stalberg said. “The puck didn’t bounce maybe my way toward the end. But I think we were pretty effective as a line.
“I think he wasn’t happy with the team’s performance and he chose to take me out of the lineup. That’s how it is and I’ll live with that. Obviously it’s frustrating, but I’ll do anything I can to support the guys and to be back in the lineup. I’ll try to make a difference when I’m back in there.”
Stalberg is an unrestricted free agent after the season and this certainly doesn’t help his chances to be back.
“Whether I’m here next year or not, we’ll see what happens,” Stalberg said. “That’s something we’ll take after the year. It’s nothing I’m really too concerned about at this point. We’ll figure that one out after hopefully we hoist the Cup here.”
Quenneville responded with a “we’ll see” when asked if Stalberg might return for Game 2 on Saturday.
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