Blackhawks: Bryan Bickell ready for another chance


Blackhawks: Bryan Bickell ready for another chance

The bus rides Bryan Bickell took with the Rockford IceHogs this season rekindled memories.

“I remember those old days, seven-hour trips on a bus. Maybe when I was 21 it was easier on the body, but just turned 30, so it was tough,” Bickell said with a grin. “It’s nice to get back and hopefully I won’t have to do that again. I’m here to play my best and do whatever it takes.”

This season has been a humbling one for Bickell, who has spent most of it with the Blackhawks’ minor-league affiliate. But as the regular season winds down the left wing is getting another chance, starting Thursday against the St. Louis Blues. Teammates said it was good to see Bickell again.

“You’re happy for him,” Trevor van Riemsdyk said. “He’s got a big smile on his face. It’s just good to see him. He’s such a good guy and having him in the locker room is always a nice thing.”

[MORE HAWKS: Marian Hossa out, Bryan Bickell in vs. Blues]

Bickell skated on the Blackhawks’ third line with Andrew Desjardins and Dale Weise, a line that should definitely bring a physical presence. Coach Joel Quenneville said Bickell must bring that physical game regardless.

“I think that’s one of his better attributes because he’s a big body, he can play against top guys and can wear a defense down,” Quenneville said. “He can get on the puck quickly, has a big shot, speed and gets to the net. We always talk about the appreciation for having a power forward that can create space, generate offense or can get the defensemen aware of being on the ice. I think Bicks can do that. But the consistency is what we’re looking for.”

The postseason is where Bickell has traditionally done well; it’s where he earned his four-year, $16 million deal during the 2013 Stanley Cup Final run. But that consistency of which Quenneville spoke of has been the issue. The 2015-16 season has been frustrating, at least at the NHL level. Entering this season still fighting the vertigo that cost him a few 2015 Stanley Cup games, Bickell couldn’t find any consistency. His latest stint in Rockford has been since January, but he’s played well there, recording 15 goals and 16 assists in 31 games. But it’s what he does here that’s going to count.

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“I think every game’s got to be real good from the situation I was in this year,” Bickell said. “It was tough. But to see these guys again and to be back up here, it’s lifting. Every game I’ve got to play like it’s my last, and do what I need to do.”

How Bickell is used going forward is uncertain. Quenneville said Bickell gets his opportunity vs. the Blues, “and we’ll see how it goes going into next week.” Bickell was reminded of his early Rockford days in his latest stint. He also took some valuable new lessons from the experience, and hopes he can apply those here now.

“Being positive is the biggest thing,” Bickell said. “I think going down there, I didn’t want to be a sore thumb. Have a positive attitude and work hard and I’m happy to be back up here for a couple games going into one of the times I like the most, the playoffs. Looking forward to it.” 

Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals


Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals

Four fans at the United Center were thrown out of Saturday's Blackhawks game for taunting Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly with racist remarks.

Midway through the third period, Smith-Pelly, who is black, was in the penalty box when fans shouted "basketball, basketball, basketball" at him, the Washington Post reported.

Here is a GIF of Smith-Pelly's interaction with the fans:

After the game, the Blackhawks released this statement:

Capitals head coach Barry Trotz also had this to say about the incident:

Cue Chelsea Dagger: Blackhawks blow out Capitals to snap eight-game losing streak


Cue Chelsea Dagger: Blackhawks blow out Capitals to snap eight-game losing streak

Win one game.

That was Joel Quenneville’s message during the Blackhawks’ eight-game losing streak, which finally came to an end on Saturday night.

How about a 7-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on home ice for a streak-breaker? Now that’s more like it.

Prior to Saturday, the Blackhawks hadn’t recorded a win in February — or a win at the United Center since Jan. 12. 

Though the Blackhawks will likely miss the playoffs for the first time since Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were rookies, a blowout win over the leaders of the Metropolitan Division Capitals had to have felt great.

"It’s a nice way to get over the hump," Toews said. "Sometimes you might just win a 2-1 game or just kind of grind it out, but it was nice for us to fill the net the way we did tonight."

Added Joel Quenneville, "Certainly feels 100 times better than coming in and trying to explain how we had a lead and were unable to sustain it. The complete 60 minutes, three periods the right way, more consistency in our game, way more pace than we’ve seen recently, composure with the puck, shooting around the net. It was fun but that’s one. Let’s see how we respond to this because there’s a lot of hockey left."

The Blackhawks are 25-26-8 with 58 points, and are 11 points out the final wild card spot, currently held by the Minnesota Wild.

Among the highlights:

— Seven different Blackhawks scored: Toews, Kane, Alex DeBrincat, Brandon Saad, Artem Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz, Ryan Hartman

— The Blackhawks are 74-6-4 in the regular season in which Kane and Toews both record a goal — and 41-0-0 in their last 41 games, according to NBC Sports Chicago stats guru Chris Kamka.

— Kane registered career assist No. 500, becoming the sixth Blackhawk with 500 or more. Kane is also the seventh U.S.-born player with 300-plus goals and 500-plus assists, joining Mike Modano, Keith Tkachuk, Jeremy Roenick, Pat LaFontaine, Joe Mullen and Phil Housley, according to Kamka.

"You think about the amount of great Americans that have played the game, how many players actually play hockey in the United States... Growing up all I wanted to do was play hockey," Kane said. "That means a lot, especially when you talk about American-born players."

— DeBrincat's 22nd goal of the season has him tied for the rookie-lead with Tampa Bay Lightning's Yanni Gourde. DeBrincat and Kane also lead the Blackhawks with 22 goals.