Bryan Bickell has been patiently waiting to play again. It looks like his wait is over.
Bickell, who’s been sidelined with an upper-body injury the past two weeks, will play on Thursday night when the Blackhawks host the Minnesota Wild. Bickell will be a refreshed addition to a Blackhawks roster that has been limping into the end of the regular season, literally and figuratively. Patrick Kane (left leg) was already sidelined until the postseason. Jonathan Toews, who suffered what looked to be a shoulder injury on Sunday night, is also out until the playoffs.
No, Bickell’s not here to fill either of those guys’ shoes. He’s back to play his game, and he was doing that before he was sidelined. There must be something about late March/early April for Bickell, who was looking more himself his last few games. Now it’s a matter of getting the legs and the game back again.
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“It’s important for me to get back and be playing the hockey I know,” he said following Wednesday’s practice. “It was frustrating sitting out with the little injury I had. But to get the rest the last three days helped it to be ready for tomorrow.
Joel Quenneville has already seen the jump in Bickell, even without that first game back.
“He was flying there in practice,” he said. “He’s been skating really well. Going into that trip we thought he could’ve played. But certainly we could use his size, speed and pace and physicality. He was definitely playing his best hockey going into that injury.”
Bickell has gotten his on-ice workouts in, thanks to assistant coaches Jamie Kompon and Mike Kitchen. It’s been a long two weeks for Bickell, who went on the shelf just when his game was looking more like the one he brought last postseason. Now, to get it back as quickly.
“I feel great,” he said. “All those skates got me in better shape than before. It’s just about being out there and giving the team a spark. It’s important for me to just play my hockey and get to the net.”