Bickell's strong play might affect Hawks' future
DETROIT — Bryan Bickell will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, but the left winger might have earned himself a new contract with his strong play in the playoffs.
Either that or he has priced himself off the team, with the Blackhawks expected to have more salary cap problems this summer.
Bickell scored his fifth goal of the playoffs in the 4-3 win in Monday's Game 6, and he has been a physical force for the Hawks. Only Patrick Sharp had more goals with 6.
Not bad for the lowest-paid forward on the team with a salary of just $541,667. Teammates Brandon Bollig, Andrew Shaw, Ben Smith, Jeremy Morin, Jamal Mayers and Daniel Carcillo all make more than Bickell.
"He's been effective," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "You look back over the last couple playoff years and Bick usually finds a way to make an impact in games. We notice him because he gets in on the forecheck and he gets a big hit or two early in games to set the tone.
"His production is kind of a bonus for us. You like his speed and all year long Bick has had a nice year for us and been consistent with his game and that line has been consistent for us. Everybody is looking for those type of players and they usually jump out at you come playoff time."
Patrick Kane thinks Bickell is a pretty scary guy when he gets that look in his eye.
"He's a big boy, that's for sure," Kane said. "Like I've said before, there aren't too many guys on our team who can bring that physical presence like he does. I think he's a guy we really count on.
"He's got tremendous size and power and he's got a hard shot. When he's hitting guys and finishing his checks you see how good he really can be. The last game I thought he was huge for us. He really helped us get the momentum at the start of the game with a couple of hits and scoring the first goal."
The Hawks have six unrestricted free agents in Bickell, Viktor Stalberg, Mayers, Michal Handzus, Michal Rozsival and Ray Emery. Nick Leddy and Marcus Kruger are restricted free agents.
Power vs. power:
While everyone has made sure to point out how the Red Wings had kept Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa off the score sheet for most of the series, they failed to recognize that Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk have been just as silent for the most part.
Zetterberg has no goals and 3 assists in the first six games. while Datsyuk has 1 goal and 1 assist.
The first two lines basically canceled each other out until Monday when Hossa scored and had an assist and Toews had 2 assists.
"Everybody knows the goal is to win the series," Datsyuk said. "Nobody cares about this. Our team is our star."
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said it's not the first time he has seen a team's top two lines cancel each other out in the playoffs.
"That's what normally happens in hockey, that's why they give you a third line," Babcock said. "And that third line is supposed to win you the series. That's what depth is all about.
"That's what happened to Chicago and Anaheim during the regular season, their third line was better than everyone else's. Our third line has to be good."
Hossa said he is trying to score.
"There's not much room out there," Hossa said. "It doesn't matter who scores. You have top two lines against top two lines so you sort of cancel each other. We have to play extremely well defensively against each other because you can't give a little room."
Hawks forward Jamal Mayers was fined half a day's pay for his antics on the ice before Game 5 on Saturday.
Mayers was fined approximately $1,600 for shooting pucks into the Red Wings net during the warmup.
Mayers, who has yet to play in a playoff game but dresses for every warmup, said he was trying to get under Detroit's skin.
Cocky Red Wings:
Detroit defenseman Jonathan Ericsson might not have meant it to come off this way, but his words following Monday's morning skate blew up in his face.
"They came out a lot harder than we did and were better throughout the whole game," Ericsson said about Game 5. "We know we can play a lot better and we've showed that. The last game we didn't come out at that level and they didn't let us come up to that level, but we'll show them tonight."
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