Blackhawks

Blackhawks: Bryan Bickell ready to heed waiver wake-up call

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Blackhawks: Bryan Bickell ready to heed waiver wake-up call

What looked like a move to send Bryan Bickell to the Rockford IceHogs appears, in fact, to be the ultimate wake-up call attempt.

Bickell cleared waivers and will play Saturday night with the Blackhawks when they host the Dallas Stars in their preseason finale. Bickell was placed on waivers at 11 a.m. on Friday and cleared 24 hours later.

“I’m just taking it as an awakening, set a fire,” Bickell said following morning skate. “I look at the clock: it’s 11:16 and I’m still here and I’m looking to play tonight to really show them I can get that game back. I want to be a Blackhawk forever. Second opportunity.”

The Blackhawks have tried plenty of light-a-fire tactics in the past with Bickell, including healthy scratches. His overall game, however, hasn’t had the consistency it had in the spring of 2013, when he helped the Blackhawks win the second of their past three Stanley Cups. Bickell is in the third year of his current contract, which carries a cap hit of $4 million per season. Sportsnet.ca reported on Thursday that the Blackhawks and Edmonton Oilers talked of a trade regarding Bickell, but that didn’t happen.

[MORE BLACKHAWKS: Marko Dano among Blackhawks reassigned to Rockford]

“Organizationally we know Bicks can bring a lot to or team,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We’ll talk to him individually, like we will all the players on Monday, about roles and job descriptions. We think he can be a factor and we need him to be. So that’s where it’s at.”

Bickell is here right now. Will he stay? Ultimately, that’s up to Bickell and his play but if he’s still struggling in the short term the Blackhawks have options. According to generalfanager.com, the Blackhawks have 29 days/nine NHL games played in to reassign Bickell to Rockford without him having to clear waivers again.

“Yeah, I'm not sure what it is,” Patrick Kane said of Bickell getting the wake-up call. “But we were all happy to see him this morning. And I think he's playing tonight, so I'm sure he's excited about that. I'm sure it was a tough day for him yesterday. He's close with a lot of guys in here, so we all feel for him and I think we all hope he’s here.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up for the 2015-16 Blackhawks season!]

Bickell said he took Friday for himself to collect his thoughts and sort out what was happening. The Blackhawks sent him as big a message as possible while still keeping him here. As Bickell said, it’s up to him now.

“I know there’s been ... healthy scratches to kind of spark me. This is maybe a (motivation) to really show that I really want to be here,” Bickell said. “I don’t want to leave. [I want to] play like I used to play and be a physical presence on the ice; and with this team, that’s what I think we need and I need to bring it every night.”

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

It was a rare sight to see the Blackhawks in a shootout on Wednesday night.

It was just the second time this season — and first time at the United Center — that the Blackhawks made it past 3-on-3 overtime. 

The last came on Dec. 2, 2017, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Stars in Dallas. On Wednesday night, the Blackhawks were on the other end, beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in a seven-round shootout. Nick Schmaltz netted the game-winner.

"We'll take it," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we had a decent game tonight. Overtime not so good, I liked the shootout victory, Fors made some big saves for us particularly as the game got deeper. Our third was OK, I thought our first two were way better, and overtime we gave up some high quality, some bells were rings for a bit there. But it was nice to see the shootout win."

Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist, recording another multi-point game, his 16th of the season.

"I mean we need every point we can get at this point," Kane said. "There's still belief in this locker room. Obviously we need to go on quite a run and have a big record here down the stretch. But take it a game at a time and nice to get two points."

Anton Forsberg was a big reason the Blackhawks even recorded those two points. The 25-year-old netminder stopped 34 of 36 shots and made a handful of big saves down the stretch.

"It was really nice to get a win for sure," Forsberg said. "I would love to have a lot more wins, but right now just gotta look forward and get as many wins as possible."

Added Quenneville: "I think it was good for him to win a game the way he did. Lot of shots were on the line, as we progressed, got deeper, hitting the point first was big for him and for us and then finding a way to get the extra one was a good win."

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?