Bickell continues to soar in playoffs

June, 7, 2013
6/07/13
12:45
AM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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LOS ANGELES -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville once believed forward Bryan Bickell flew under the radar.

These days, Bickell's presence may break the radar.

Bickell added to his ever-expanding 2013 playoff highlight reel with another goal and assist in the Blackhawks' 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals on Thursday. He now has eight goals and three assists in 16 playoff games.

"I think he's one of those guys that you really appreciate all year long," Quenneville said. "He's one of those guys that maybe flies under the radar. He's got all the assets that could make him a top forward power-wise. He can hit, skate, shoot, he sees plays and is big at the net, physical. All the ingredients you want put together. That process, he'd like to see it come together game in, game out. Probably this playoff round, it seems like he's really progressed."

Bickell touted the playoffs as being his time of year before the opening round began in April because of all of his tools, but even he couldn't have expected to produce like he has over the past month. His eight goals in the playoffs are just one short of his regular-season total in each of the past two seasons.

"No, I don't think I've had a stretch like this, especially this time of year," Bickell said. "But it's been fun. The bounces are going my way. Hopefully, we can keep this going here."

Bickell got a favorable bounce on his goal Thursday, but it was also created thanks to his effort. In the first period, he gained possession of a loose puck near the blue line and delivered a knuckleball wrist shot at Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick, who was able to deflect it, but it continued into the net.

"Both teams were changing, just hopped on the ice, I just shot through the screen and snuck one by him," Bickell said. "He got a piece of it, but it just snuck in the side of the post. I was happy to get that equalizer to tie it up 1-1."

Bickell helped the Blackhawks to another goal in the second period when he stood in front of the net and deflected a shot by teammate Niklas Hjalmarsson. The puck got past Quick again and appeared headed into the net, but then Patrick Kane skated in and knocked it in himself. Bickell and Kane later joked about Kane stealing the goal.

Whether Bickell has contributed a goal, assist or a big hit, his teammates have been pleased to have him during their playoff run.

"He's been great," Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook said. "He's been unbelievable in the playoffs all season for us. He's a big body. Being a defenseman, it's tough when those big bodies are coming down on you. With his speed, momentum, it hurts. It's nice to see him playing physical. By doing that, gives himself some room.

"He's got a great shot. He's really finding the soft spots and getting the shot through. Probably the biggest thing, Kaner would probably agree, he's hitting the net now. That's been huge for us. I think it's paid off dividends for Bicksy."

Bickell has tried to keep an even keel with all of his success, but he admitted he's built off each playoff performance.

"Confidence-wise, I'm pretty much on cloud nine right now," Bickell said.

And that would be him now flying over the radar.
Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Patrick Kane
PTS GOALS AST +/-
23 10 13 1
OTHER LEADERS
GoalsP. Kane 10
AssistsP. Kane 13
+/-K. Versteeg 8
GAAC. Crawford 1.92