Odd goal gets Blackhawks’ Bickell back on track

Odd goal gets Blackhawks’ Bickell back on track
January 18, 2014, 2:30 pm
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(USA TODAY Sports Images)

The bounces that Bryan Bickell’s shot took on Friday night, off, over and past Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller, were certainly odd. They were also joy inducing for the beleaguered left wing.

“When I celebrated I was happy, but it was a different happy,” Bickell said the day after he snapped his 11-game goal-less streak with what turned out to be the game-winner vs. Anaheim. “Just to get that monkey off my back. We played a good game, and when it came right down to it, that was a crucial goal for us. It was huge for me, and the team.”

Bickell’s been struggling with his game and, in turn, his confidence for a while now. But it doesn’t always take much to turn both of those in a positive direction, and Bickell’s hoping last night’s goal does that. He played a stronger game on Friday night, although one of his biggest hits was on his own teammate – Kris Versteeg, who is fine.

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Versteeg said he knows how big any score can be when you’re struggling.

“Scoring a goal or getting an assist, I know for myself and a lot of guys it gives you some bounce in your step,” he said. “He’d been playing good the last few games; he’s starting to get back to where he wants to. On that goal, he showed it by beating a guy with speed and taking it to the net the way he does. He expects a lot of himself and so do we. It’s good for him, and hopefully he can keep rolling with it.”

Coach Joel Quenneville said he hopes the same.

“Every game he’s getting better, and scoring can help,” he said. “It can give you more confidence; you’re more patience with (the puck). It can only add to his presence on the ice.

[ALSO: Versteeg OK after hit, Crawford to start vs. Bruins] 

What could also help Bickell is to be in the right areas, too. Bickell’s got a tremendous wrist shot, one he can certainly take and make from anywhere. But with his big body, being there for in front of the net, being there for greasy and second-opportunity goals is where it’s at for him.

Bickell got some bounces to go his way on Friday night. It’s been a while since he could say that. No, his game isn’t solely about scoring; it’s about being physical, about being a presence with or without the puck. But if a good bounce on a much-needed goal gets that confidence going again in all parts of his game, that’s fine.

“To get where I (want to be), I still need to improve myself,” he said. “Getting that one was crucial. It helped. Hopefully I can keep it moving.”