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Bickell understands benching, says he’ll get physical

Pittsburgh Penguins' Deryk Engellleft Chicago Blackhawks' Bryan Bickell battle as they wait for puck during second period an NHL preseashockey

Pittsburgh Penguins' Deryk Engelland, left, and Chicago Blackhawks' Bryan Bickell battle as they wait for the puck during the second period of an NHL preseason hockey game in Chicago, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

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Updated: January 29, 2014 1:08AM

CALGARY, Alberta — Apparently, winger Bryan Bickell received coach Joel Quenneville’s message loud and clear. In fact, he wholeheartedly agreed with Quenneville’s decision to bench him Sunday against the Jets.

Since returning from a knee injury Dec. 17, Bickell hasn’t looked like the player who had nine goals and eight assists during the Stanley Cup playoffs last season. He has disappeared on the ice, unable to bring the physicality his team needs.

“It’s frustrating, but as my game has been going, I feel like I deserved to sit out, and I think he wants to get me more angry and mad on the ice and bring the physical game to where I needed it,” Bickell said.

“It’s an example to myself and the locker room that, [regardless of] how many years you have played here, you still can find your way out of the lineup. I know I haven’t deserved to be [in it]. But hopefully I can turn it around on this road trip.”

The six-game, 11-day trip began Tuesday night in Calgary, where Bickell returned to the lineup. The trip will take the Hawks into the Olympic break, which runs from Feb. 9 to 24.

At the morning skate, Bickell said he intended to bring that anger and aggression into the game. Though Bickell’s scoring also has been missing — he has one goal and one assist in his last 14 games — Quenneville is looking for him to at least throw around his 6-4, 233-pound frame.

“He needs to be physically involved in the game, more direct in his play,” Quenneville said. “He’s got to be stronger in the puck area and be involved in the game by doing those type of things.

“If he does the right things shift in, shift out, that’s what we’re looking for. I think that he’s got some speed to his game. He’s got some physicality and some size. Just contribute in that way, and he’ll be adding to our team game and feel better about himself, as well.”

A long road trip might be the perfect place for Bickell to do those things. He said the Hawks play a simpler game on the road, which is conducive to turning his season around.

“First couple of shifts, you want to bring what you can to help the team,” Bickell said. “My strengths are my physicality and my [ability to keep it] simple, and I need to keep it more simple right now.”


Twitter: @SethGruen

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