EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Bryan Bickell’s eyes probably got as wide as saucers as he waited for Patrick Kane’s pass to him on Monday night.
At least he hoped Kane would pass it to him.
“I’m like, ‘You better pass that to me.’ I was wide open,” Bickell said following Tuesday’s practice. “I knew he was, but he wanted give the goalie a little head fake. It was a terrific pass and I put it in the back of the net, so I felt good about that.”
Bickell needed a feel-good moment, something to give him a little confidence during a tough stretch. The goal didn’t hurt. Bickell didn’t log a lot of minutes in Monday’s 5-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings — it was a special teams-laden contest, and Bickell doesn’t play on either the power play or penalty kill. But playing better when he was out there was a boost.
“Just to have a good 60 minutes. If I do score or don’t, I feel comfortable I played a good game,” Bickell said. “It’s a good step of getting confidence and chemistry back out there. I just need to do the same (Wednesday).”
Wednesday offers another game in which Bickell can be, and needs to be, a factor. The Anaheim Ducks are one more physical group in a road-trip schedule that’s been loaded with them. If he got some confidence out of that goal on Monday night, he’ll need to apply it to his physical game as well.
Coach Joel Quenneville was happy to see Bickell break out of the doldrums somewhat.
“He didn’t get a ton of minutes but it was progress,” he said. “We expect him to continue to get confidence, get some predictability in his game. He did some good things last night, and it was nice to see.”
Bickell got a welcome bit of relief on Monday night. For a guy struggling as bad as he’s been, it’s something. Teammates say he can turn it into something more.
“He’s a huge part of the team. When he’s going, he’s physical, he sets a tone,” Kris Versteeg said. “Hopefully he can keep that confidence rolling and (keep) playing the way he did last game. We all know what he’s capable of when he’s at the top of his game. Hopefully he keeps that going.”