Bryan Bickell’s failed dump-in proves costly

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Matt Beleskey celebrates under the pile after his game-winning goal in Game 5. (Getty Images)

Bryan Bickell took a lot of heat from pundits and fans alike for his failed dump-in from center ice that turned into a 2-on-1 the other way and the game-winning goal 45 seconds into overtime of Game 5. Bickell’s slap shot from center ice hit Francois Beauchemin’s stick and somehow bounced softly and perfectly to Jakob Silfverberg, who triggered the 2-on-1 that Ryan Kesler started and Matt Beleskey finished while the Hawks were in the midst of a line change.

The safe play was to chip it into the corner and ensure the line change went smoothly. But given how Frederik Andersen had given up two late third-period goals to Jonathan Toews, including a terrible one to tie it, the Hawks’ game plan was to fire from anywhere and everywhere to test Andersen early in overtime. And with Toews still on the ice on his right side, Bickell appeared to be playing for a rebound and a scoring chance, all while still giving his team a chance to change.

“That’s something we talked about even going into overtime,” Brandon Saad said. “We get two quick goals like that [at the end of the third period], we want to test him as much as possible. Unfortunately, it ended fairly quickly on their side.”

It was something of a fluky play, but Bickell’s decision to shoot between two Ducks rather than safely chip it in proved incredibly costly.

“We talk about getting the pucks behind them and in deep,” Joel Quenneville said. “I’m sure he feels bad. They had to make a couple plays after that to put it in the net.”

Lineup changes?

Quenneville opened the door to possible lineup changes for Game 6, even entertaining the seemingly remote possibility that Trevor van Riemsdyk could make his return. The rookie, a pleasant surprise out of training camp, played 18 games with the Hawks before fracturing his kneecap blocking a shot in November. He then lasted eight games with Rockford of the AHL before undergoing wrist surgery.

Game 6 of the Western Conference final seems a big stage for a rusty returning rookie, but Quenneville didn’t rule it out at all.

“We’ll see,” Quenneville said. “Look forward to talking to him. He skated [Tuesday], we’ll see how he is. He’s going to skate with us in the morning.”

With Kyle Cumiskey acquitting himself well in this series, Quenneville could be reaching his breaking point with 40-year-old Kimmo Timonen, who’s averaging less than eight minutes per 60-minute game, and whom Quenneville said was just “OK” in Game 5.

“He doesn’t play a lot, I know it’s not easy on him,” Quenneville said. “But we’ll look at options.”

Nuclear option

Quenneville double-shifted Patrick Kane during the third period, and occasionally even had him skating alongside Jonathan Toews, a look he’s gone to in past postseasons when the Hawks were desperate for some offense. While the Hawks’ lines have been remarkably consistent throughout this postseason, the nuclear option is always on the table.

“We’ll see all our options,” Quenneville said. “Over the course of a game, you never know.”

Bunches of trouble

The first period of Game 5 was the seventh time the Hawks have given up three goals in a period during this postseason, a stunning number for the defensive-minded team. It happened four times against Nashville, once against Minnesota, and in each of the past two games (including the 37-second barrage in Game 4).

“We obviously have to be better in big moments of the games like that,” Niklas Hjalmarsson said. “It’s always important to keep the momentum on our [side].”

Said Quenneville: “We have big periods offensively, as well.But key shifts of quick goals is something we haven’t dealt with before. We’ve got to make sure we got to kill that.”


Twitter: @marklazerus

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