Bryan Bickell lowering the boom on the Anaheim Ducks’ Ryan Getzlaf set of a chain reaction for the Blackhawks on Tuesday.
The hit led to Brad Staubitz’s retaliation and instigator penalty, which led to a Blackhawks power-play goal, which led to a recharged Blackhawks team, which led an even-strength goal 28 seconds after their first goal.
Not a bad series of events for the Blackhawks. And for Bickell, that part of his game has to continue.
Bickell has had a solid start to the 2012-13 season, be it with hits like the one he doled out on Tuesday night or his steady play with the third line. Now in the final year of his current two-year contract, Bickell knows he has to keep his game strong, defensively, offensively and physically.
“I need to be consistent. My mindset needs to be ready to keep my feet moving and hit,” Bickell said following Thursday’s practice. “I know if I hit I’ll get myself and my teammates into the game. We’ll get space out there, get fans going.”
Teammates have recognized Bickell’s recent work, which also includes seven points this season.
“Bicks has been playing well,” said linemate Viktor Stalberg. “That was a big hit. It’s one of the things he has to do if he wants to be successful. He’s got a big body and can hit. That’s the role he tries to do and it got some momentum for the team.”
Andrew Shaw has also seen the difference.
“He’s got a lot of confidence right now. He’s throwing his body around a lot more,” he said. “He’s going to the net, taking the puck to the net, and good things are coming from it.”
Coach Joel Quenneville said Bickell’s physical side has been more noticeable, especially the past few games.
“He makes an impact on a game when he skates like that and finishes his check,” Quenneville said. “He goes at such a high speed those hits sometimes can be impactful for the game. It really compliments his individual game when he’s being physical because he has the puck more and (opponents) turn pucks over more with that type of pressure.”
Bickell had a rough 2011-12, one in which he was a healthy scratch several times during the regular season. He struggled with his confidence. But he rebounded during the playoffs, as he had been the previous year. And this lockout-shortened season has that kind of feel to him.
“This short season, it’s kind of like playoff hockey every game,” Bickell said. “That kind of hockey gets the best out of me; there’s more hitting and my type of game.
Bickell has put last season behind him. He’s been a good part of the Blackhawks’ run to a 10-0-3 mark and is bringing more of that physical presence the team needs. Bickell knows he needs to make an impact this season. So far, he is.
“I definitely feel better than last year,” Bickell said. “Fortunately last year was last year and this could one be big for me and the team to do well.”