Bryan Bickell got an impish grin on his face when asked about his 2013 postseason, and the need to repeat it.
“Yeah, I don’t want to be a one-hit wonder,” said Bickell, whose memorable 2013 playoffs helped earn the Chicago Blackhawks a second Stanley Cup and him a lucrative new contract.
“I feel like the playoffs are more my kind of game. In the last couple of games, I took steps to where I need to be,” Bickell continued. “Coming into the playoffs, it’s important for me to play my game.”
The playoffs are all about the team effort but there’s usually one or two players that have standout, perhaps even surprisingly so, performances. That was Bickell last season. Starting on the third line and working his way up to the first, Bickell recorded nine goals and eight assists. His last goal was his biggest, the game-tying effort in Game 6 against the Boston Bruins.
The Blackhawks appreciated his efforts last spring and summer. They could use him this time around, too, especially with everything the St. Louis Blues are going to bring. Be it physical, scoring a timely goal or playing strong minutes, Bickell needs to be a force again.
“He was a huge influence on our team last year and made a big contribution in a lot of ways,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I think his size, physicality, timely goals, he just made an impact on each and every game. He was wearing down some players on the other team as well. We’re looking forward to him being a big part as well this year. I think he’s trended here at the end of the year to be ready for that type of contribution.”
Bickell’s admitted many times that postseason hockey plays more into his strengths. It’s not pretty hockey, it’s not stylish hockey. It’s win-at-all-costs, muck-it-up hockey, and that falls in the big left wing’s wheelhouse.
“It’s the physicality, (the game’s) simplified,” Bickell said of the postseason. “There are not many tic-tac-toe goals and pretty plays. I don’t have many of those in my bag of tricks. It’s just straight lines, get to the net and get the greasy goals and second opportunities.”
Bickell had a rough go of it most of this season. He started looking more like himself from mid-March on, when the Blackhawks were fighting for points and a potential home-ice advantage. Teammates say they noticed Bickell getting back to his game more recently. They look forward to seeing it the rest of the way.
“The last month or so, you’ve seen it,” Ben Smith said. “He’s worked hard all year but he’s really ramped it up last month or so. It’s going to be exciting to see what he brings. Playoff hockey is his kind of hockey, that grinding, physical game, going to the net and scoring ugly goals. It’ll be exciting to see what he can bring to the playoffs here.”