Bickell 'pretty sure' he will play Thursday

Chicago Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell said Tuesday he was “pretty sure” he was going to play against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday after missing the last six games with an upper-body injury.

“Getting better,” Bickell said on WGN-AM 720 on Tuesday. “I feel ready for Thursday. It was a frustrating road trip, I know, watching those games and losing the way we did. We need to get back on the roll of things back home.

“I’m pretty sure I’m in [Thursday.] It’s big with the guys we’re missing right now.”

The Blackhawks have been cautious with Bickell. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Sunday that Bickell would have returned earlier if they were in the playoffs. He has 10 goals, two assists and a minus-seven rating in 53 games this season.

Bickell was not in uniform when Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews suffered an upper-body injury after taking a hit from the Pittsburgh Penguins' Brooks Orpik on Sunday, but Bickell was asked a general question Tuesday about under what circumstances players do seek retribution for hits.

“I think you stand up for your teammates,” Bickell said. “I don’t think you go running around and try to hit their star players. I know for me I was watching the game; I thought the hit was a little high. But the speed on the ice is so quick and it happened so fast. I’m sure someone could have gave him a talk, but it was in the moment. He thought maybe nothing came out of it. Hopefully Toews is all right.”

Quenneville said Sunday he did not believe Toews’ injury was serious. The Blackhawks are also without forward Patrick Kane, who is expected back from a lower-body injury at the start of the playoffs.