Blackhawks: Bryan Bickell still looking for scoring touch


Blackhawks: Bryan Bickell still looking for scoring touch

Bryan Bickell is pretty sure he’s doing the same things he’s done in previous postseasons, when pucks were going in for him much more than they are now.

“I look into my journal, ‘Back in 19…’” Bickell said to laughs on Sunday, prior to the Blackhawks’ departure to Anaheim for Game 5 of the Western Conference Final. “I feel like I am [doing the same things]: be physical, be hard on defensemen, create opportunities off that.”

The pucks, however, are not going in this postseason. He’s gotten a couple of assists but no goals. Even a series against the Minnesota Wild, which usually has a bull-in-a-china-shop affect on the Blackhawks forward, got his production going. He’s been close: he hit the crossbar and redirected a Brent Seabrook shot that hit the post in Game 4,  a 5-4 double-overtime victory for the Blackhawks.

[MORE: Blackhawks' mantra - Be better in Game 5]

So Bickell keeps going, and tries to avoid pressing, while he looks for that elusive postseason goal.

“It’d be nice to see the puck go into the back of the net more than it has,” he said. “It feels like it’s getting closer. If I don’t get those opportunities, then you guess what’s wrong. I rang one off the crossbar, an inch from going in and swinging the game.”

Any postseason Bickell ever has is compared to 2013, when he had a tremendous one. Bickell recorded nine goals and eight assists in those playoffs, including the game-tying goal in the Stanley Cup-clinching Game 6 against the Boston Bruins. That postseason earned him his current four-year, $16-million contract. He was solid last postseason, with another seven goals in 19 games. But through 14 games this spring, he has just five assists.

Physically, Bickell’s been there. He currently leads all players this postseason with 89 hits. That’s been key, especially in this series against the Ducks, which has been a physical one.

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As far as that offense, coach Joel Quenneville said Bickell’s still taking the right approach.

“I think, you know, he still gets on the body. I think he's a threat,” he said. “He hit the crossbar. He had a great chance I think to end it in Game 2. Last night, a couple decent looks. A couple plays looked like they almost got through. I still think he brings something to our team, yeah.”

Bickell’s not happy he’s gone scoreless so far this season. But pressing isn’t going to solve anything. So he’ll keep trying what’s worked for him previously.

“I just need to be physical, get into the paint and create havoc,” Bickell said. “I’m sure one will eventually go in.”

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

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?

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?


Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Adam Burish and Pat Boyle discuss which Blackhawks could be on the trading block and what players are building blocks for the Hawks future.

Burish also shares a couple memorable trade deadline days and his “near” return to the Blackhawks in 2012. Plus, he makes his bold trade deadline prediction for the Hawks.

Listen to the full Blackhawks Talk Podcast right here: