Bryan Bickell was starting to bring that physical game as the calendar got closer to the postseason. He hasn’t let up since.
The Blackhawks forward was especially noticeable with those big hits in Game 3, recording eight as part of the team’s top line with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. For Bickell, bringing that physical edge has always been the biggest asset to his game, and it’s good to have it back in full swing.
“I felt good physically,” Bickell said of Game 3. “I want to be out there, making some (space) for my wingers and being physical. I need to keep that up. For me to be a big part of that, it gets me going.”
It also gets the rest of the Blackhawks going. The energy was high for Game 3, mainly because the Blackhawks were in an 0-2 hole in this series and desperately needed a victory. But Bickell’s hits brought even more of that.
“Bicks has been real good,” head coach Joel Quenneville said. “He has a speed to his game that gets him in contact areas but he’s dangerous off the rush with pucks that are lying around with a quick stick and a quick shot. The way he played toward the end of the season and the way he’s played his first few games here, it looks like he’s ready.”
This is Bickell’s time of year, no doubt. Everyone’s familiar with his 2013 postseason, which also brought its share of offense. Bickell ended up being a top-line player by the end of the playoffs, and he’s back there again now. He provides protection for the Blackhawks’ two stars, both of whom had injuries at the end of the regular season. He also helps clear space for them to work.
“I definitely need to make room and just give notice to the D that I’m coming every shift,” he said. “And if we’re chipping the puck in, just give (the defense) that second thought in their head that I’ll finish my checks and hopefully we get some turnovers.”
Sure, Bickell would like to get back to the scoring ways that were also part of his 2013 postseason. He hasn’t recorded a point in the last three games. His main focus, however, is making sure the guys known putting up big points are still given the chance to do so – and that the hits just keep on coming.”
“To give those two the puck and me be out of the play and make room for them, I’ll take that all the time,” Bickell said on making sure he finishes his checks. “We had some opportunities last game and didn’t score but the bounces will come our way soon.”