Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Streak/Slump: Stalberg playing his best
By Jesse Rogers
Viktor Stalberg has seven points over his last four games while a move to the fourth line hasn't helped Michael Frolik.
1. Viktor Stalberg, Forward: He earns easy honors for his torrid play. Seven points over his last four games before and after the Christmas break is his best stretch as a Hawk. He recorded a career-high nine shots on net in a loss in Pittsburgh where he started the game on the fourth line. Twice in recent games, including the Penguins contest, Stalberg was moved to a different line and that line has taken off. Most recently he was inserted on the checking line with Dave Bolland and Bryan Bickell, and the result was a combined eight points for the trio in two contests. Stalberg is playing his best hockey of his young career and deserves power play minutes for it.
2. Corey Crawford, Goalie: It’s a small sample size since his return to the net, but Crawford had to start somewhere and his two wins before and after the holiday break were very good. He was the No. 1 and No. 2 star in each of those games, keeping the Hawks in it while they endured a few lapses against weaker opponents. His post to post paddle save on Max Pacioretty against Montreal was the signature save of his return while his opening 20 minutes against Columbus was his signature period. Crawford has stopped 57 of 59 shots and looks like his old self. As Joel Quenneville would say, he’s trending in the right direction.
1. Michael Frolik, Forward: He’s been a candidate for slumping on nearly a weekly basis and his recent stretch on the fourth line hasn’t changed that notion. Frolik has one goal and point in his last nine games while seeing his minutes decrease. He’s still getting some offensive chances but isn’t finishing them. That’s been a constant problem for Frolik since becoming a Hawk. Other than a short stretch in the playoffs last year he has underwhelmed with his scoring touch.
2. Steve Montador, Defenseman: It’s hard to pick slumpers on a team 9-1-1 in their last 11, but Montador has been quiet on both ends of the ice. Even with power play time he has just one point since Nov. 19, a span of 16 games. He’s been a minus player three times in his last 10 games while the Hawks have given up very little in that stretch. Montador has been less noticeable on the offensive end overall, though that’s not how he’s judged.