Bickell refreshed heading into 'new season'

CHICAGO -- Bryan Bickell wasn't pleased with where his game was when the Chicago Blackhawks last played two-plus weeks ago.

Physically, he felt good then. He just hadn't been happy with his mental approach and his confidence.

Bickell returned to the ice Sunday for the Blackhawks' first practice after a 15-day break and felt he had taken full advantage of his time off. He got some sun, did some fishing and removed himself from hockey for a bit and felt he was coming back mentally refreshed.

"It's been a rough start for me," Bickell said after practice Sunday. "The team is still doing good. I think to bring my game back up I can help the team in a way.

"It definitely helped to step away and not think about hockey for a couple weeks. Just to come back like it's a new season kind of thing. You have that time off and we have 20 more game left in the season. I have to bring it every shift because our Olympians are going to be tired."

Bickell's play has varied since he returned from a knee injury in December. He had three goals, one assist and a minus-seven rating in 21 games since his return. He was limited to less than 10 minutes of ice time in 12 of those games and was made a healthy scratch a few times on the team's late trip.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Sunday he felt Bickell began to show him more heading into the break. Bickell had a goal against the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 3 and had four shots on goal and played 12:04 against the Phoenix Coyotes on Feb. 7.

"Yeah, I thought the last couple of games on the trip that he was right where he'd like to be at, and I thought today he had probably as good as anybody out there at practice today," Quenneville said.

Bickell wouldn't have minded a few more days off, but he felt he was in a better place than a few weeks ago.

"The break actually went a lot quicker," Bickell said. "If you look at the calendar, you're like, 'Oh, my God, we got 19 days. What are we going to do?' To see some family and friends, time flies by. Refreshed for me, my mental game, I think I feel better now than going into the break. I'm reenergized and focused at what I can do and what I need to do."