Blackhawks News

Bickell’s Return To Playoff Form Begins With Physical Play

By Keith Schultz

t  Dec 30, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Bryan Bickell (29) with the puck during the second period against the Los Angeles Kings at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

There are certain stats that are huge in the NHL, and there are some that you can take with a grain of salt.  One of the stats that usually finds it’s way into the grain of salt category especially with the Chicago Blackhawks is hits.  With the Hawks being such a great puck possession team they naturally have the puck more which means on almost every night the opposition will have more hits than the Hawks do on the scoresheet.

One player that does need physical play in his nightly resume is Bryan Bickell.  I’m not saying that him nor any Blackhawks player should go goon it up and take runs at people trying to send them 20 rows up into the stands, but Bickell is a power forward that needs to throw his body around to be effective on a nightly basis.

When Bickell is playing physical it leads to good things for #29 and the examples are as big as the bright blue sky all the way back to the Phoenix Coyote series in 2012.  During that regular season the staff was so upset with his lack of toughness he was a healthy scratch during the 2nd half of the season.  Bickell came back started hitting and it lead to good things especially against Phoenix where he was one of the better Hawks on the ice including an overtime winning goal.

Last season he led the Hawks in hits and good things happened for him from being on a very productive 3rd line during the regular season to his incredible run during the playoffs that led to his big new $4 million dollar contract.  Through line changes and injury, Bickell has been the biggest disappointment by far from any Blackhawk this season and some have to wonder if he’s even playing near 100 percent.

A glimpse of good came out though during the late stages of the third period and no it wasn’t Bickell making a play on the boards and hitting the goal post.  The play I liked seeing the most from #29 was the check he delivered behind Carey Price’s net.  It was a hard check and the type of physical play that could wake up the sleepy 2013-2014 season for Bryan Bickell.  The Hawks need Bickell to find his game and he usually finds it first with his physical play so hopefully last night’s check may be a small springboard to a productive 2nd half for Bryan Bickell!

What do you think? Was last night the start of something or just 2 good random shifts?