Bryan Bickell bringing the pain in the postseason

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ST. PAUL, Minn. — Eleven hits in Game 1. Twelve more in Game 2. If Bryan Bickell played like this all season long, he’d be one of the most feared players in the NHL. He might also also be in traction.

“It’s probably taxing doing that on your body over the course of 82 games, and the guys who do it, I’m sure it’s tough to be consistent in that area,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said before Tuesday’s Game 3 against the Wild.

But as has been well-documented over the years, postseason Bickell is quite a different animal than regular-season Bickell. In the regular season, Bickell is an enigmatic, inconsistent winger often wracked by confidence issues. In the playoffs, Bickell is a wrecking ball.

And his presence is felt — by both teams.

“It gets the guys perked up a little bit when he throws a big hit,” Andrew Shaw said. “Everyone loves it and we build off that. When you’ve got a 225-pound frame like that, you can do a lot of damage. Every time he finishes a check, I feel sorry for the guy on the other end of it.”

Added Andrew Desjardins: “That’s crucial, especially at this juncture, [to] get the guys a little bit nervous with the puck, if you havea guy like him coming down on you.”

With his eye-popping tallies in the first two games, Bickell entered Tuesday’s game as the NHL leader with 58 hits this postseason. He averaged just 2.6 hits per game during the regular season. His bulldozing style has helped new linemates Patrick Kane and Brad Richards do their thing offensively.

“[It’s important] for me to open ice for my linemates and get those [defensemen] second guessing, and hopefully we can get some turnovers and just wear them down,” Bickell said. “They’ve got a lot of guys that log big minutes over there. [It’s up to] me to be physical, and for anybody, to slow them down in any way.”

Bickell has said in the past that he doesn’t think he can play that style for 82 games. But he said the playoff are a “different game; you’re going to do whatever it takes.” And if that means some extra time in the ice tub after a game, so be it.

“I think I felt the 11 [hits in Game 1],” he said. “They were more painful on my body than the 12 [in Game 2]. But I’m ready for [Game 3]. I’m hydrated, and we’re excited.”

Power play

There was a power outage at XCel Energy Center on Monday night, and the ice was slushy early in the morning. Bickell said the ice was a little slower than usual during the morning skate, but nobody expected it to play a role of any kind in Game 3.

“It’s still better ice than the [United Center],” Shaw said.

Roster report

Minnesota was without winger Chris Stewart, who suffered an apparent right arm or shoulder injury in Game 2. Wild coach Mike Yeo said he’s “day to day.”


Michal Rozsival, the Hawks’ 36-year-old defenseman was asked if he has hockey-player friends who are jealous that he plays for a loaded contender like the Hawks.

“I have friends who are jealous because I’m still playing,” he quipped.


Twitter: @marklazerus

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