The Chicago Blackhawks have decided to make a minor switch heading into tonight’s Game 3 showdown in the Stanley Cup Finals against the Boston Bruins, following the Blackhawks overtime loss. 26-year-old fourth-line center Brandon Bollig will be swapped out for Viktor Stalberg, according to Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times and NHL.com senior writer Dan Rosen.
Bollig is a classic enforcer, and that’s exactly why the Blackhawks brought him in to play over Stalberg in games one and two, in order to get that edge to compete with a Bruins team that is gritty in every sense of the word. The Blackhawks maintained that Bollig would need to play disciplined, but he ended up barely playing at all in Game 2 with the lowest time on ice of any Blackhawks player.
Interestingly enough, Bollig’s appearance in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals was his first came action in at least a month, and he actually did an excellent job in Game 1. He was all over the place on defense, and Bollig earned a ton of praise for his hitting, defense, and for fulfilling his role from Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville. But, he fell out of favor after making the crucial mistake that led to the Bruins winning the game in OT.
Now Stalberg is in after that error from Bollig, and it’s a move that will help the offense. It’s a very small move, but Stalberg has good speed and moves the puck well. Set to become an unrestricted free agent, Stalberg now has a chance to prove to the Blackhawks why they need to keep him by rising up in the biggest moments for this team. We’ll see if he can help the offense on the fourth-line, and it should be worth losing a bit of hard hitting from Bollig. Stalberg is definitely the better player in my book, but he’s seemingly been in Quenneville’s doghouse this postseason despite notching 23 points in the regular season and being a good offensive piece.