Bryan Bickell returned to the Blackhawks with a bang – and a big hit.
His collision with former teammate Dustin Byfuglien just over a week ago was a welcome sight for the Blackhawks, who needed that physical element back in their game. It was also a welcome delivery for Bickell, who, back in the Blackhawks fold, knows he needs to bring his best game every night.
“I think every game is like the last game,” Bickell said. “The reality check was going down there and doing that and coming back up to fight my way in.”
Bickell just about had his first goal of the season on Sunday night, but it ended up being an assist when Dennis Rasmussen pushed over the line in the Blackhawks’ 4-0 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Still, it looks like he’s finding a good level with Shaw and Rasmussen, who Bickell also played with during his Rockford time.
For Bickell, it’s about playing at the right level every night.
[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]
“Me, Shaw and Ras aren’t giving up much defensively and getting some offensive looks,” he said. “Personally I think I’ve been doing what they’ve asked me: keeping it simple, straight lines and finishing checks.”
Coach Joel Quenneville said, “Bicks has been fine.”
“There’s been a presence there. I think he’s progressed in his game as well but the simpler he keeps it the more efficient and effective he can be,” Quenneville continued. “We notice him in the lineup just being a presence along the boards and in the puck area.”
The Blackhawks missed Bickell during his time in Rockford. They knew their teammate was struggling but also knew what he was capable of, given his part in previous Stanley Cup runs.
“Right from the start he brought some energy. It was just nice having him back in the room, regardless of what he can bring on the ice,” Jonathan Toews said. “It’s not fun to have gone through what he’s gone through, especially with what he’s accomplished, what he’s done for our team the last number of years. But he sucked it up, came back and he’s ready to work and to play well, and we’ve seen that so far.”
What happens if the worst-case scenario looms again? If Bickell starts struggling again and the Blackhawks choose to give him the ultimate wake-up call again, Bickell would have to go through waivers again. Here’s Article 13.5 for Waiver Expiration:
The rights granted under this Article to Loan a Player(s) who is otherwise required to clear Regular Waivers to a minor league club expire for any Player(s) who, after clearing Regular Waivers:
(i) is not Loaned to a minor league club, or is Recalled from a minor league club (except on emergency Recall) and remains on an NHL roster for thirty (30) days (cumulative) or plays ten (10) NHL Games (cumulative).
Bickell took advantage of his time in Rockford and he’s starting to find his game and line chemistry here. He knows there is no room for off nights.
“I want to fight every game like it’s my last, as long as possible,” Bickell said. “Keeping my physicality every game is crucial for this team and I need to bring it.”