Always The Viktor, It’s Never Your Fault

I had a few thoughts on this whole Viktor Stalberg possibly being a healthy scratch stuff, and couldn’t convey it in just 140 characters.

It’s rare that I would try and calm down anyone about any of what Joel Quenneville does, as I’m as skeptical of him as anyone. Well, except for maybe the tallest writer at this site. But let’s see if we can’t pull this bus over to the soft shoulder and turn the hazards on.

What was the first thing Q said after Game 5 against Minnesota? “We have a couple more levels to go.” He stressed how much better the Hawks could have played, and how much better they will have to play in order to progress much farther than where they are now. And I think we all pretty much agreed with that.

So this sort of feels like a head on a spike, albeit briefly, for the rest of the team to see. Obviously, there are bodies that are entrenched. You wouldn’t send Hossa or Sharp or Kane to skate with the extra D and the Black Aces. Saad already paid his penance.

Yeah, Stals is getting scapegoated here, and almost certainly unfairly. But he’s also the one with which Q can get away with this sort thing. Other players will notice but won’t be offended to the point of mutiny. It’s kind of an alert thing, or that’s what I want to believe. “Pick it up or we’ll move on without you, and I have the fortitude to do so,” is what Q appears to be saying. At least that’s what I want to believe.

Another aspect here is numbers. With Bolland returning, there simply has to be some shuffling. We already know that Q loves him some Andrew Shaw and Michal Handzus, whatever their faults. He’s just not going to dump Andrew Shaw on the 4th line as a wing, but he also doesn’t want to move Kruger to a wing where he really isn’t very effective at all. The simple answer is to move Kruger to the #2 spot, Bolland to the #3, and Handzus between Frolik and Shaw. But see above, he just won’t do that.

So if Shaw has to be moved to a wing, it seems like it’s Stalberg’s spot that he has to take. Simple counting gets you there. Still, if it shakes out with a 4th line of 67-16-25, that really won’t be the end of the world. And I think that’s probably how it’s going to go.

And besides, isn’t Mike Babcock just about the last person on Earth you want to show your cards too? Especially when you know you’re going to get outcoached anyway?

  • Maybe? I dunno..

    I’m with ya on the headgames…but it just feels so damn random….If you didn’t feel the hawks were in the game, bag skate their asses…you have/had plenty of time between series to do so.
    I would love for q and stahls to be in on this, and having a good laugh behind the scenes, but we’ve never seen q pull something like this before so I have to imagine he’s seriously considering bollig, or carbomb would be better 4th line skaters than vic.

    I won’t lose sleep over this, but seems to me like you’d want that speed against a team who’s “top” d who’s claim to fame is getting bailed out by his 40+ partner, while you go off playing john wayne on the blueline.

    • Sparky_The_Barbarian

      Speed is definitely what we want against Scum, but speed needs to be coupled with responsibility. Be slow on the back check or get cute in the neutral zone with your passing against these guys and the puck ends up behind your goalie, especially if # 13 of the Winged Wheel is out there. Our best hope is a repeat of the Minny series. The top lines for each team cancel each other out and the game is won on the third and fourth lines.

      • The Doctor

        I don’t understand what you’re saying here. You seem to be implying that Stals is fast but lacks defensive responsibility. By that logic there are 8 Hawks that deserve to sit ahead of him and none of them have his speed.

        • Z-man19

          Seriously? If the Hawks are up one in the last 3-4 minutes of the game, Stals is about the 11th F I want on the ice. I don’t hate Stals either.

          • Accipiter

            Bollig is the 1st, right ?

          • Z-man19

            Carillo, clearly

          • roadhog

            Damn Pens scored. I might play with 4 before GSalad. I don’t hate Stals at all. He’s had his moments this year, but given the Hawks style of play and his speed, a choice to keep Bickell or Stalberg shouldn’t even be close. The regular season numbers are a dead heat between the two, and Bicks has less min/gm. As it is, I’d probably keep Bicks, and good on him for it.

          • Joe Banks

            Speed kills, but I would pick Ironman every time.

        • roadhog

          I think it means one beautiful pass for an OT GWG by itself in a series doesn’t cut it, especially for those looking for a contract for next year. Speed only pays when it hits the box score, or backchecks for a paycheck. No reason for Q not to light the fire under some arses, there is a good chance Bickell or Stalberg isn’t wearing an Indianhead next year.

  • Sparky_The_Barbarian

    Well, getting out-coached by Mike Babcock puts you in some pretty elite company. It’s not like getting out-coached by AV. And didn’t we all spend some part of last year wishing Q would find the balls he had in 2010 and bench (albeit briefly) any player that wasn’t performing to expectations?

    And for that matter we don’t know if this is actual discipline or Q fucking with Babcock.

    If the former, is this a sign that the Hawks won’t even try to resign Stals this summer? Fine with me as long as we keep Kruger and Bicks.

    • roadhog

      I’m totally with you . . . Perhaps Captain T isn’t getting the response he wants from his leadership efforts, so Q steps in to assist. I can live with it. I don’t hear anyone crabbing about breaking up Marlboro 72, and are we really worse off?

  • amontesawesome

    I’m debating in my head if this would be more or less stupid than using John Scott on the powerplay in the playoffs, which I had assumed would forever be the high water mark of Q’s questionable decisions.

    I think merely considering sitting Stalberg is slightly less stupid than actually using Scott on the PP, but if it actually happens, that would be far, far worse.

    • bizarrohairhelmet

      I’m debating in my pants on whether I should find another venue for debates. It feels kinda wrong, but in a good way…

      • amontesawesome

        You still debate in pants? Please. Jorts or get out.

        • bizarrohairhelmet

          I am a master of it. Who masters debates in jorts? Wait, I don’t want to know.

      • Accipiter

        Never make any important decisions with pants on.

  • Country_Bumpkin

    I wonder what Edzo’s thoughts will be on this move. I’m sure his boner is probably visible from space right now.

  • 334Rules

    I suppose there are teams against whom sitting Rattlehead wouldn’t be utterly insane, but against a Wings team that’s particularly vulnerable to his speed – particularly the bottom 6 and 4, really makes no sense at all.

    • Country_Bumpkin

      I think Q is just telling his players, “you guys played like ass in round 1 and I will sit any of you that’s not producing.” Stahhhhls will prolly play tomorrow night.

      • roadhog

        There is no H, so maybe staaaaaaaals . . . and yes I can’t imagine him sitting tomorrow. DHawk nod.

        • Country_Bumpkin

          I know there’s no “h” in Stalberg, I was just trying to piss off Deserthawk.

          • roadhog

            My bad, I didn’t see what you did there!

          • Joe Banks


  • Another rumor out of practice today has Montador on the 4th w/Kruger and Fro

    • mad-hatter

      Beats reported that it was Carcillo on the fourth. Montador wasn’t even at practice.


    I saw a picture today where it looked like Smith and Kane were on the same line. Not sure what that could mean. Sharp to Center the 2nd line? Smith on the 4th line and on the PP? If anyone deserves a healthy scratch for the first series wouldn’t Handzus be the first name that comes to mind?

    • mad-hatter

      Zus was not at practice so I think it was just Smith filling in. He probably won’t be in the line up anytime soon.

  • 07GreyDigger

    I understand the reasoning between having physical players on the ice against a team that will be physical with you, but I really hope that Stalberg isn’t on the bench in favor of Gorilla Salad. I’d rather have a speed guy who can be lazy on defense who can things happen vs. a guy who will take a dumb penalty because he’s dumb.

  • The Doctor

    Q is a fucking moron. That about sums it up.

    • bizarrohairhelmet

      A .

    • roadhog

      Not to be obtuse, but do you honestly feel Stalberg’s performance thus far in the playoffs is absolutely beyond reproach? Stal’s is going to ask for a healthy raise here soon, and Q just wants to make him earn a chunk of it now.

      • The Doctor

        Bollig, Carcillo, Handzus, all players that I would sit over Stals. At least he poses a threat, can keep up with the opposition, and won’t take a stupid penalty.

        Whether he’s going to ask for a raise or not is irrelevant. You’re in it to win the cup. You dress your best players regardless of what the future holds.

        • Joe Banks

          With the speed of Detroit’s 2nd and 3rd pairings, they are probably praying their ass off that 25 sits.
          Ain’t gonna happen.

        • cliffkoroll

          Maybe I’m wrong, but is anybody arguing the Bollig/Carcillo view?

          The problem is Bolland. Unless you want him back between the Patricks (and I don’t) dat boy gonna do some serious defensive work.

          This is very far from the job the Bickell-Shaw-Stalberg line has been asked to play this year. If what Neo says is true, these guys have been mostly bum-slayers anyway.

          Bickell’s got some history as a shutdown forward, but Shaw and Stalberg?

          And between the two, Shaw was much more of a presence against Minnehaha- let’s face it, Stalberg was not much of a factor in an undemanding role in that series.

          Personally, it seems to me that Q should reunite Bick-Bo-Fro and have Shaw-Kruger/Handzus-Stalberg rip out some fourth line hearts.

          If Q wants to light a bit of a fire under a role player that maybe should have a bit of a contract incentive anyway, I reckon he’s prepared to withstand some hand-wringing about it.

          If he does end up sitting Stalberg in favor of Carcillo or Bollig, that’ll be dumb.

      • B Squared

        Warden Norton?

  • SAMCRO Outlaw

    This isn’t pre original lockout hockey, so there is very little use for guys like Bollig & Carcillo in the regular season. In the opening round unless you’re playing the blues (who they aren’t going to deter anyhow) they have about as much use as any of us do being on the ice. At this point there is absolutely zero reason to have either anywhere but modeling their Sunday best in the private box. Neither is getting anywhere near their skates come game time. That leaves Handzus, who was nothing but a passenger against the Wild, who played at a slow pace that Detroit won’t. That exposes his uselessness even more. Q is always looking to push the pace and the way the Hawks get their biggest edge is with their speed against Detroit’s D, so I can’t see where he fits at all.
    The one thing that makes me think that there is no way he sits Stalberg is that we haven’t heard anything from him about not playing. I would imagine he would be pitching quite the bitch if he was being sat for game 1, regardless if Q told him to be quiet, someone would be saying something. As for Q doing this to make Stals earn his contract, no way in hell is he ever considering a players contract when he is making personnel decisions. If he is then we are fucked all to hell, so I refuse to believe he would ever do something like that.
    I really hope this whole thing is Q tightening some things up that need to be. If he’s going to play the mad professor and try to measure his against Babcock’s he’s measuring the wrong thing. He needs to remember he has a better team & they need to measure up against that, not him against their coach.

  • Wowwowweewoo

    This is making me so angry.

    3 is now a true checking line. Occasionally double shift toews Kane and sharp interchangeably to make various doom lines when the match-up is there. 4th line absolutely slays.

    • wowwowweewoo

      Sharp and smith take draws

    • Joe Banks

      Zero chance of this line up happening. But I like the Ben Smith part.
      And the no Bollig Carcillo Handzus part.