Bryan Bickell gets a scratch to go with lumps
By Adam L. Jahns firstname.lastname@example.org January 18, 2012 10:46PM
Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell is having a disappointing season. He has only four goals in 40 games. | Bill Smith~Getty Images
Updated: February 21, 2012 8:33AM
Bryan Bickell’s minutes already were decreasing, and with it, his responsibilities. With another healthy forward at his disposal for the first time in weeks, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville sent another message to Bickell.
“He’s had some stretches where he’s been OK, but we’re looking for more from him,” Quenneville said.
After playing 16 games in a row, Bickell was scratched Wednesday against the Buffalo Sabres as rookie Ben Smith was put on the fourth line.
It was the seventh healthy scratch for Bickell, who came in with reasonably high expectations after a solid first full season.
“I feel the same; I think I’m doing the same things,” said Bickell, who has only four goals in 40 games and a goal and two assists in his last 16.
“Last year it seemed like everything I threw on net went in. I need to look at the small picture and do the little things. Hopefully, it can expand to the bigger picture.”
Recently, Bickell, who had 17 goals and 37 points last season, has seen rookies Andrew Shaw and Jimmy Hayes overtake him in the lineup. They’ve provided the energy and physical play he hasn’t.
“Those two have come in and been putting in the goals when we need them,” Bickell said. “It’s huge. They’ve been getting an opportunity to play, and they’re doing their best with it.”
The biggest factor is that things never clicked for Bickell when playing with center Dave Bolland on the checking line. The Bickell-Bolland-Michael Frolik line hasn’t come close to last postseason’s levels.
“I think he wanted to change to get me off Bolland’s line because we were . . . putting the puck in our end and getting goals against,” said Bickell, who’s a minus-6.
‘‘My stats, it’s been a minus start. But I’ve been chipping away to get on the plus side. When you’re on a good team like this, it’s not good to see your game being a minus.”