With the first game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs less than 6 hours away for the Chicago Blackhawks, I can already sense the building excitement. Who couldn’t, especially after catching some of the playoff intensity that was in full effect yesterday during night 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Each of the three games ended up going to the wire and each team only lost by one goal. Which leads to what I would like to share. During the first series when the Chicago Blackhawks face the St. Louis Blues they will need to see production from all areas of the ice. With that being said, I would like to identify the 5 secondary players that could decide the Blackhawks first round outcome. Depending on how tough of a series it develops into, these 5 players may have to contribute more than average to help take some of the burden off of a freshly returning Partrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
With a healthy Bryan Bickell in the lineup the Blackhawks have a versatile player who serves many purposes on this team. He makes himself very valuable when playing both sides of the puck. When he is playing an offensive role he has the ability to post up in front of the net and cause havoc for the goalie. Tuukka Rask would be the first to tell you that after he was scored on twice within 17 seconds during Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals last year. Bickell was the one who scored the game tying goal with only 76 seconds left. His physicality on the defensive side of the ice is also a key to the Blackhawks being successful. With a team built around skills and speed you always want to have a couple of players in your lineup to keep the other team in check on the boards. Expect Bryan Bickell to give another solid Stanley Cup Playoff performance with the cup on the line.