Playoffs bring best out of Hawks' Bickell

CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell tweeted at 6:30 a.m Tuesday, "This is where boys turn into men playoff time. #gameone."

Bickell was sharing with his 29,000-plus followers his excitement for Tuesday's Game 1 of the Blackhawks-Minnesota Wild series, but his tweet was also in a way a message to himself. Bickell has excelled in the playoffs the past two seasons, and he's out to do so again this year.

Bickell has scored as many goals as any Blackhawks player in the playoffs in the past two seasons. With four goals, he's tied for the team lead with Michael Frolik, Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp. Bickell scored two goals in six games in the 2012 playoffs and had two goals and two assists in seven games in the 2011 playoffs.

"There's some players they're regular-season guys, and there's some players who are playoff guys," Bickell said after Tuesday's morning skate. "I feel like when it comes around to the playoffs that feels like my time. It brings the best out of me. … I know there's a lot of teams that need those kind of players to get them through."

Bickell's game has evolved in the past few seasons where he's able to be a physical presence with his 6-foot-4, 233-pound frame while also contributing offensively with his athleticism and strong shot. He believes that combination makes him perfect for the playoffs.

"I think the playoffs are more my game," said Bickell, who had nine goals and 14 assists in 48 regular-season games. "I know the hitting, the level goes up. I feel that's good for my game. I think that brings the best out of me by hitting and getting more into the game. Other than that, I need to learn from what I did before and carry it over from this year and the previous playoffs."

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said often it's players like Bickell who emerge during the playoffs.

"He's had some good playoffs," Quenneville said. "I think he's a physical guy. He's got some speed to his game. I think that a lot of nights your top guys get a little more attention. Guys like him, sometimes the quiet guys that you don't know much or talk about much over the course of the season, they seem to jump out come playoff time.

"He's had that ability to do that. I just think he's had some real strong games this year, as has had that line, and we're going to need him."