Hawks' Bollig replaces Stalberg in Game 1
Brandon Bollig replaced Viktor Stalberg for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals against the Boston Bruins.
"I don't know what to do," Stalberg said earlier Wednesday. "You can't get too down, too upset or too frustrated about it. There's two weeks left in the year. We're going to try to win it. It's simple as that. If I'm playing, I'm playing. If I'm not, I'm not. I can't do much about that right now. When I was playing, it felt like I wasn't playing at times when [there's] so little ice time. It is what it is. Obviously, it's frustrating. At the end of the day, it's two more weeks and hopefully have a Cup here. That's all that matters."
As far as re-signing as a free agent after this season, Stalberg said: "We'll see what happens."
Stalberg missed just one game in the regular season, notching nine goals and five assists in 47 games.
"I think I've been doing what I've been asked to. If they want some more toughness in this first game here, so be it," Stalberg said Tuesday. "I can't affect that at this point. All I can do is work hard, show them I'm ready to play if need be. Hopefully, I'll get another chance this year because I think I can make a difference."
"Very excited, you dream of this as a kid, and I'm excited to live that dream and get going, getting family in town," Bollig said before the game. "Seeing the crowd out there is going to be amazing, and we'll hopefully come out on top in Game 1."
Bollig knows what's expected of him.
"Obviously provide that physical presence and that security for some of the more skilled guys to play their games and hopefully make them feel a little more safe, that's obviously what I'm going to do," Bollig said Tuesday. "That's been my role my whole professional career. That's something I'm still looking to doing. That's obviously why I would be in the lineup [in Game 1.] I'm not looking to change too much, keep it simple and play my role."
Coach Joel Quenneville echoed those sentiments.
"All year long whether the situation or the team, I think he's pretty smart on what he brings to our team and to the table," Quenneville said. "We want him to play hard. We want him to play smart, play within the whistles, bring that element."
Stalberg was benched for the first two games of the Western semifinals against the Detroit Red Wings, which the Hawks split. He has three assists in 15 playoff games.
Former Blackhawks great and NBC analyst Jeremy Roenick criticized Quenneville at the time for benching Stalberg, one of the fastest skaters in the league, calling it a "big mistake."
Bollig played in three playoff games in the Hawks' opening round against the Minnesota Wild and has not scored a point. Bollig provides a more physical presence than Stalberg, which may appeal to Quenneville more against the rugged Bruins.ESPNChicago.com's Scott Powers contributed to this report.
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