LOS ANGELES — Bryan Bickell is over the physical ailments that hampered him earlier this season, like that left-knee injury from which he returned in December. Right now, it’s all in his head.
“It’s more mental now,” he said on Monday. “I need to break through the tough times and do the little things to have confidence in myself.”
Bickell gets another chance to do that Monday night as he’s back in the lineup when the Chicago Blackhawks play the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center. He was in his familiar third-line spot, with Andrew Shaw and Brandon Saad at Monday morning’s skate. Bickell was a healthy scratch in three of the Blackhawks’ last four games, an obvious frustration for him. He’s looking to turn things around, fast.
“I’ve got to do whatever it takes,” he said. “Sitting out the last couple of games is tough. But I know this team needs me to bring my physicality and coming into these last games, I need to do it every game, every shift.”
While Bickell fights through this mentally, he said there’s no problems physically. Bickell missed nearly a month with a left knee injury. Not long after returning, he talked about adjusting to wearing a brace on each knee — he played through a right-knee injury last postseason. But Bickell said his left knee is “fine.” Mentally, however, this has been a trying time.
“It’s probably been the No. 1 one in my life,” Bickell said of his current situation. “There have been ups and downs in my career. In anyone’s career it’s like that.”
Coach Joel Quenneville said he’s reminded Bickell to take “baby steps.”
“You try to instill confidence in him, tell him to try to keep it simple. Take baby steps, do the right things,” Quenneville said. “The more little things you do, shift in and shift out, they add up over the course of a game, and that’s where we’re at.”
Bickell has had his teammates’ and coach’s support through all of this. Still, he knows it’s ultimately up to him to get back to his game.
“They’ve been positive, they believe in what I can do, and to help this team win they need me to be where I was,” Bickell said. “If it takes little steps to get there, hopefully I can start (taking those) tonight.”