It’s what distinguished him and made him wealthy over the last few years. He generated nine goals, 17 points and 85 hits in 23 games during the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup run in 2013. Those performances earned him a hefty raise with a four-year, $16-million deal. He lived up to that reputation again last season and had seven goals, 10 points and 80 hits in 19 playoff games.
Bickell had an ordinary regular season, but the assumption was he'd turn it on again come the postseason. This time it's been a different story. He’s increased the physical portion of his game as he’s recorded 89 hits in 14 games, but the scoring has gone missing. He entered this season’s playoffs having scored a goal in nine consecutive series, and he hasn’t scored in any of the three series this season. He has zero goals and five points through 14 games.
Bickell had some of his best chances in this season’s playoffs during Game 4 of the Western Conference finals against the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday. His greatest opportunity was shot just a bit too high and connected with the crossbar. He attempted three shots and had one shot on net.
“Yeah, you know, it would be nice to see the puck going in the back of the net a little more than it has,” Bickell said Sunday before the team departed for California. “It's getting closer. If you don’t get those opportunities, then you ask what’s wrong. But I ran one off the crossbar last game. It was an inch from going in, to swinging the game. You know, I just need to be physical, get in the paint, create havoc that way, and I'm sure eventually one will go in.”
Bickell’s shots on net have been down from the previous few seasons. He has 16 shots on goal and has had just one game of more than two shots in this year’s playoffs. He had 44 shots and six games of three-plus shots last season and had 49 shots and 10 games of three-plus shots in 2013.
“I feel like I'm doing the same thing,” Bickell said. “To be physical, hard on the defensemen, create opportunities from that, be in front of that. ... Looking in my journal every day, back in 19 -- no. ... Pretty similar, yeah. I don't write a journal, by the way.”
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville directed everyone’s attention to similar aspects of Bickell’s game. He felt Bickell was contributing to the team even if he hasn’t been scoring.
“I think, you know, he still gets on the body,” Quenneville said. “I think he's a threat. He hit the crossbar. He had a great chance I think to end it in Game 2. Last night, a couple decent looks. A couple plays looked like they almost got through. I still think he brings something to our team, yeah.”