NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Bryan Bickell is back in the lineup and Antti Raanta gets the start when the Chicago Blackhawks play the Nashville Predators tonight at Bridgestone Arena.
For Bickell, the wait has been an arduous one. But fully healed from his injury, and coming back one game earlier than previously anticipated, he’s champing at the bit to play.
“(Coach Joel Quenneville) asked me if I was ready and I said I was really, really ready,” Bickell said with a grin. “It’s been a month since I’ve (played). It was a long month. It felt like it was a year. He wants me out there, wants to get chemistry with the guys. To see how the team’s been going, hopefully I can help out in any way.”
Bickell will be at his familiar left wing on the third line with Andrew Shaw and Brandon Saad, who will switch to right wing.
“(Bickell’s) got a presence, gives us size and physicality and gives us some options. That line could be effective,” Quenneville said. “They all bring something different, and that could be a dangerous line.”
Saad will make some adjustments on the right side. But since he’s familiar with that spot, it shouldn’t be too difficult.
“I played right wing when I was younger, so I’m pretty familiar with both (sides),” he said. “It’s good to be versatile. It’s something you have to work at, but it’s something that’s good to have.”
Sheldon Brookbank will be the Blackhawks’ sixth defenseman tonight.
Meanwhile, Corey Crawford continues to improve off his lower-body injury. Quenneville said Crawford could hit the ice in the next few days. Nikolai Khabibulin’s status, however, remains unchanged.