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After six-game absence, Bickell back for ‘Hawks


After losing star forwards Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews to injury, Chicago is finally getting some good health news up front.

Bryan Bickell will return to the lineup tonight versus Minnesota, marking the first time he’ll suit up since Mar. 19. The burly power forward has missed the last six games with an upper-body injury but declared himself “100 percent” to make his return on Thursday.

With Kane and Toews out, Bickell will have a chance for some extended minutes in the hopes of reviving what’s been a down year. Bickell cashed in on a stellar playoff scoring spree this summer with a four-year, $16 million extension with the ‘Hawks, but has struggled in the face of heightened expectations -- just 10 goals and 12 points in 53 games, and a 16-game stint on the shelf earlier in the season with a knee injury.

There are big hopes in Chicago that Bickell can regain his form in time for the playoffs, given how valuable he was a season ago. The 6-foot-4, 230-pounder had nine goals and 17 points in 23 postseason games en route to the Stanley Cup championship, scoring the game-tying goal just seconds before Dave Bolland’s winner in the Game 6 victory over Boston.