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Bickell looking for mental edge again

Bryan Bickell has struggled to regain his form since returning from an injury. Rob Grabowski/USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell has never encountered anything in his career as psychologically testing as what he’s enduring now.

Bickell suffered the worst month of his career in January, finishing with one point and a minus-seven rating. He was also made a healthy scratch twice in January and once to start February. He will return to the lineup Monday against the Los Angeles Kings after sitting out the Blackhawks’ last two games.

“This is probably No. 1 on my list, I think,” Bickell said Monday of the difficulties he's faced. “But there have been ups and downs through my career. I think anybody’s career it’s going to be like that, but to get through this one, hopefully I can start tonight.”

Bickell’s struggles have occurred for much of the last month and a half since returning from a knee injury on Dec. 17. He missed nearly a month due to the injury. Since returning, he’s had two goals, one assist and a minus-eight rating in 18 games.

Bickell and Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville don't think Bickell’s decline in play is related to his previous injury.

“I think he’s fine,” Quenneville said. “I just think having a little more confidence in what you’re able to withstand and what you’re able to do and won’t have a little bit of a hesitation. I think that’s going to come. There shouldn’t be a hindrance of an inability to do what he can do because he’s cleared to play. He’s just got to recapture it.

“I would think whether it’s a healthy scratch bothers him or his play bothers him I would hope both of them bother enough that he’s going to do something about it.”

Confidence is everything in Bickell’s eye. When he looks back at what led him to stardom during the playoffs last season, it was confidence. It’s something he believes he’s lacked as of late.

“I think coming into the season there was a high,” Bickell said. “Coming off the summer, it wasn’t the greatest summer for me. It was fun, but it wasn’t the way I wanted to start. I just need to simplify and do the little things. Hopefully, I can get my confidence. I know confidence is any league helps you get through things that are not going the right way. But I just need to simplify and do the little things and do what coach wants me to do.

“[My coaches and teammates have] been positive. They believe what I can do. To help this team, I think they need me to be where I was. It takes little steps to get there.”

Simple and small were also words Quenneville used when talking about Bickell.

“You try to instill some confidence in him knowing that, ‘Try to keep it simple, Bick,’” Quenneville said. “‘Try to get every shift build on it. Taking baby steps whether it’s doing the right things and more the little things you do shift in and shift out they add up over a course of a game.’ I think that’s where we’re at with him.”