PITTSBURGH – Bryan Bickell is itching to get back into the Chicago Blackhawks’ lineup.
When Bickell suffered his upper-body injury against the St. Louis Blues, he was coming off a stretch where he was playing much better and providing a much more physical presence. Now with the regular season closing, Bickell hopes to return soon and be ready for the postseason.
Bickell is out tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins but coach Joel Quenneville said the Blackhawks forward could return Thursday against the Minnesota Wild. It was a disappointing road trip for Bickell on the individual side; he’d hoped to play in one of these games. But he and Quenneville said they wanted to be careful with Bickell’s injury.
“It is what it is; we want to be smart about it, give him some rest tie and make sure he’s more than ready,” Quenneville said. “We’re going to need that presence at an important time, so we’ll make sure he’s ready. If this was a playoff game, I’m sure he’d play.”
“I’m kind of disappointed I didn’t get to play (on the trip); at the same time, I want the health,” he said after Sunday’s skate, in which he participated. “To get those extra days, it’s important. You don’t want to reinjure the injury. If it was a playoff game I wouldn’t miss a game, but it’s one of those things I don’t want to get worse.”
The playoffs are where Bickell shone last season, be it with timely goals or big hits. Bickell, who had that look again in recent games, hopes to recapture it when he returns.
If nothing else he’s very close cardio-wise, thanks to assistant coaches Mike Kitchen and Jamie Kompon.
“Kitch and Jamie have been putting me through the paces,” Bickell said with a grin. “I’m getting in better shape. It feels like those skates are harder; there’s no break. But they want to do that. Heal the body, heal the brain and be focused when I get back in.”