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Bickell concentrating on smaller picture

1/8/2014

CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell's plan is to eventually get back to being the difference-maker he was in last season's playoffs.

For now, though, he knows he must keep it small and simple.

Bickell's goal is to focus on the little things to get his game back on track. Since returning from a left knee injury on Dec. 17, he's had one goal, one assist, a minus-four rating and has seen his minutes gradually decline.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville limited Bickell's ice time to a season-low 5:20 against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday. Bickell was also held to 8:16 of ice time against the New Jersey Devils the previous game.

"I've been struggling as of late," Bickell said after Tuesday's morning skate. "He knows I have more. I know I have more. The confidence level is right there. For me, I'm not confident. He's not confident he can put me on the ice. I have to work extra hard on the ice during practice and such to get better and get my game where it was.

"We need to make that picture smaller. I've got to do the smaller things to help my game get my confidence back on the ice for me and for him to put me on the ice."

Bickell arrived into the season with high expectations after breaking out for nine goals and 17 points in the Stanley Cup finals last season. He was rewarded with a four-year, $16 million deal in the offseason.

Bickell began the season on the team's top line with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, but he was moved to the third line after a slow start. He scored goals in four consecutive games shortly after the change. His offensive production dipped again after that, but Quenneville had been pleased with the third line's play before Bickell injured his knee against on Nov. 19.

Bickell missed nearly a month of games due to the injury. He's now wearing a brace on it during games and has said that's been an adjustment.

Quenneville believes Bickell's injury has been a factor in his inconsistent play.

"I just think that's definitely part of it," Quenneville said. "I know he's coming off an amazing finish to the season and getting up to that pace again this year. I think that Bick can always be more consistent in his game. I think we want to recapture the way he exited last year's season as best we can or get close to it, but we've still got some work to do to get there and that consistency an pace to his game. We're not there yet, but that's definitely ... coming off the injury is definitely a factor."

Quenneville said Bickell has to get back to playing to his strengths.

"We want him playing more consistent, playing his game -- very direct, very simple, physicality," Quenneville said. "You know, go to the net, up and down his wing, getting bold. The last couple games I didn't give him much of a chance to get into the game. Then again, let's get more from him.

"Sometimes when things aren't going your way, you've got find a way where you're doing something well. I think that with him he can bump and he can bang and he can go to the net. He's got a nice shot as well. Just go up and down your wing, you'll get a little more as you go along."