CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell doesn't believe his hits against the St. Louis Blues in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series were dirty, despite Blues coach Ken Hitchcock recently voicing his concern.
Bickell was called for kneeing after he collided with Blues forward Vladimir Sobotka during the third period in Game 2 on Saturday. Hitchcock also thought a hit on Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo was questionable in the first period.
"They are hockey plays," Bickell said Monday. "I'm going to try to finish my check every time. I don't think I'm a dirty player that looks to throw knees out or hit high. I'm just an honest checker. Things like that are going to happen. Guys want to get out of the way to avoid hits. It happens that way and I just need to keep going."
Hitchcock believes there are too many similarities between the two hits.
"There was a similar hit on Pietrangelo the first period that was really concerning by the same player," Hitchcock said Sunday. "When you're leg-whipping people, it's a concern because it's career-ending. That's ACL, career-ending. That's a big concern for me, the safety of the players. That part bothers me more than the hit on David [Backes], a hit that went awry. The hit on Sobotka was a continuation of what happened to [Pietrangelo] in the first period."
Bickell also spoke specifically about the hit on Sobotka.
"I don't know [if the hit was dirty]; I don't think so," Bickell said. "I'm going to be finishing my check. I think [Sobotka] tried to avoid it, and I tried to lean into it a little bit, and I got a piece of him. I think he was all right. I know he tried to get more out of it, but he didn't miss his shift, so I think he's fine. Things like that are going to happen. The game is so fast, and I'm going to be finishing my checks, and I just need to keep my head down and keep going."
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville wouldn't respond to Hitchcock's comments, but he said Bickell's physical play was part of why the Blackhawks have had success in the past.
"With [Bickell], he gives you energy," Quenneville said. "I think last year we saw him making an impact on our team in the playoffs with his physicality and presence and was definitely influential the last two series and got up to the pace as the playoffs progressed that suddenly he was an impact player. I think he came on in that last game [against the Blues], gave us that energy he can bring, and we look forward from that going forward."
Bickell had a game-high seven hits in Game 2 and has a series-high 13 hits in the two games.