It was two weeks ago when Bryan Bickell got the jolt of his career.
Several Canadian outlets reported the league’s daily waivers and Bickell was on them. At first glance, it seemed like the Blackhawks were dangling their forward to the rest of the NHL, and if he wasn’t picked up he was headed to the Rockford IceHogs.
Instead, it ended up being the biggest wake-up call Bickell’s ever received in all this time with the Blackhawks. Two weeks later, Bickell is still trying to bring the right response to that call.
Bickell is still looking for his first point of the 2015-16 season and he’s still looking to make a consistent impact. But coach Joel Quenneville liked Bickell’s game against the Washington Capitals on Thursday, so much so that Bickell was the latest left wing elevated to the top line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa.
Now the way this left-wing audition on the top line has gone so far this season, the guy who ended the night there the previous game usually started there the next game. If that’s the case, look for Bickell to be with Toews and Hossa again — at least to start — against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night.
Perhaps that really gets Bickell going. Prior to that move, Quenneville said Bickell’s been fine in early games.
“The simpler he keeps it, the better and more effective he is,” Quenneville said. “I think we’ve noticed him in doing what we were looking for him to do. He doesn’t have to be flashy; just keep it up and down, get your chances, finish checks. That’s what we’re looking for.”
“It’s just keeping it simple, going up and down my wing, not to have so many mistakes” Bickell said recently. “Just keep it more simple and straight up and down and finishing checks when they’re there. And keeping the puck out of the back of the net is the biggest thing. I don’t want opportunities against.”
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As far as opportunities for, Bickell has had them, mainly on the third line with Teuvo Teravainen at center. If he ends up playing with Teravainen again, Bickell said he has to be prepared for the young Finn’s quick passes.
“You have to be ready. He’s sneaky. It seems like he’s looking over here, but no he’s really looking over there,” Bickell said. “He keeps you on your toes I just have to be ready.”
If he’s with Toews and Hossa on Saturday, he has to be ready to try and stay there, bring some stability to that line and his own game.
— The Blackhawks swapped forwards with Rockford on Friday afternoon, recalling Vincent Hinostroza from there while sending fellow forward Kyle Baun to the IceHogs. Baun played in two games, including Thursday night’s game in Washington, D.C., with the Blackhawks. Whether or not Hinostroza, a native of Bartlett, is in Saturday’s lineup is unknown.
— Defenseman Michal Rozsival (ankle) could either skate with the Blackhawks on Saturday morning or at their next practice, according to Quenneville. Rozsival still won’t play for some time; he was placed on long-term injured reserve on Oct. 6, which means he has to be out 10 games and 24 days.