Bickell grinding out goals, providing laughs

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Bickell grinding out goals, providing laughs

Thursday, Dec. 9, 2010
Posted 5:19 PM
By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Bryan Bickell was just fine with changing his game a bit.

The Chicago Blackhawks forward has played more of the grinder role in his American League and young NHL career. But in recent games, Bickell has adjusted to a new role: checking-line wing.

And so far, change has been very good.

Bickell has been part of a solid shut-down line with Dave Bolland and Troy Brouwer, and has added a few points for good measure. It's been a bit of an adjustment for Bickell, but so far, so good.

"We have a pretty good line and it's been going well; we've been playing a lot of minutes against lines," said Bickell, whose line with Bolland and Brouwer was good for two goals and three assists on Wednesday. Bickell, who had a goal (his sixth of the season) and an assist, said he's adapting to his new role.

"You have to change your game to the style up here," he said. "You never know. Next year it could change again. But so far it's been working out well."

Bickell entered this season as someone the Blackhawks wanted to be a big, physical presence on ice. He showed glimpses of it, but not enough and was scratched for a few games. Quenneville said Bickell responded once he was back into the lineup.

"He had a decent stretch, then not in the lineup to now when he's playing good minutes and doing a good job," he said. "Bicks can skate and can see and make plays. He's learning the defensive side of the game and his own end. There's room for improvement in that game but his awareness can make him a better player."

Bickell said he's also comfortable working with Bolland, as the two have played together in the past.

"We're old buddies from back in the day and now we're having fun right now here," he said. "Hopefully it keeps going."

Brouwer said Bickell's added plenty on the ice.

"He's been funny out there, that's for sure. He's an animated player," Brouwer said. "He's done a great job out there. He's got a great shot, he sees the ice well and he's playing a lot of good minutes. Q's got a lot of trust in him right now. He's playing against the team's top line every night and still finding ways to produce."

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Hawks Talk Podcast: What's the cause of recent struggles?

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: What's the cause of recent struggles?

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Steve Konroyd discuss the latest slump and how much does Artem Anisimov's injury play a role in their struggles?

Konroyd tells us he was surprised by Ryan Hartman's benching in Tampa.

The guys play the game, playoff minutes or press box minutes?  They run through the players who are on the bubble when it comes to postseason play.

They also discuss the Hawks chances of overtaking Washington for the President's trophy.

Plus, Konroyd breaks down possible first round opponents: St Louis, Calgary and Nashville.

Tanner Kero latest to try and fill Artem Anisimov's skates

Tanner Kero latest to try and fill Artem Anisimov's skates

PITTSBURGH – Tanner Kero's been thrown into a lot of different situations in his time with the Blackhawks, be it third- or fourth-line center or penalty kill.

But with Artem Anisimov out, the second-line center spot has become new top-line, left-wing spot: The Blackhawks will keep trying guys out until they find one that works. Kero's the latest to get that opportunity, and since it worked well on Monday, he'll be there again on Wednesday.

Kero will center Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane again when the Blackhawks host the Pittsburgh Penguins. The line had a good start to Monday's game against the Lightning in Tampa, scoring the team's first two goals — Kero assisted on Panarin's opener.

Coach Joel Quenneville liked Kero's first go-around there.

"Defensively he's in a good spot — he's usually in a reliable spot in his own end — he made a couple of nice plays offensively and didn't change his game too much," Quenneville said. "It's not easy playing with guys at that next level. It's certainly a great challenge and a great opportunity, so I thought he did a great job, took advantage of it. We'll see how he does going forward but we'll keep him in there for [Wednesday's] game and that gives us some more options."

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Learning on the fly can be part of a rookie season, especially when injuries arise. Jonathan Toews said Kero's handled everything well this season.

"Come to think of it, it's one of those little things that maybe goes over my head but he's definitely one of those versatile players who's as consistent as ever," Toews said. "He has, for his age, an incredible level of maturity and he carries that with him wherever he goes. You're seeing offensive improvement, too. He was making some good plays with Bread Man and Kaner. He's showing he can do it all and I think his work ethic and attitude's a source of that success."

Earlier this season Kero was with guys like Ryan Hartman and Vinnie Hinostroza. They were all familiar with each other from their Rockford days, and that showed. Playing with two guys you don't know so well? It's a bit of a challenge, and one the three talk out. But ultimately, Kero said you have to rely on your instincts. 

"You go over things before the game and on the bench, get a feel for what you might want to do. But then you just have to play hockey," Kero said. "You have to trust your game, make plays. You know they're going to make plays with the puck so you try to use your speed and get open and try to go to the net, create space for them and a little traffic in front and try to capitalize on opportunities."

Anisimov will be out another 1-2 weeks. Asked if Anisimov has started skating back in Chicago yet, Quenneville said, "I don't think so but I'm not positive. But he's progressing." Filling Anisimov's skates isn't easy, as evidenced by the Blackhawks' search for his temporary replacement. Kero is the third guy to get that shot, and he took advantage of his first showing.

"Obviously it's a great opportunity to play with two great players," Kero said. "You just try to do everything you can and do the little things right."

Briefly

- Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith didn't practice on Tuesday but both are expected to play against the Penguins.

- Corey Crawford gets the start against Pittsburgh.

- Hartman, scratched after a rough game against the Florida Panthers, is probably back in against the Penguins.