Hawks' Bickell playing well at right time
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Bryan Bickell and Brandon Saad pressure King's goalie Jonathan Quick in first-period action in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Los Angeles Kings.
Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer
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If Bryan Bickell were a taxi, that would be the sound of his pay meter going up and up.
Bickell is in the midst of a special postseason and his timing couldn't be better as he's scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after the season.
Bickell is the Blackhawks' lowest paid forward with a salary of $541,667.
"He's a big body and he knows where to go," linemate Jonathan Toews said. "He creates space. I think just the way he thinks the game, he makes smart plays, he keeps things simple when he has to.
"He's got the confidence as a player to make some moves, make some nice passes. But more and more he is understanding, especially in these playoffs, there's some situations where less is more. You just have to keep it simple, get the puck deep. His work ethic is there every single night. You're seeing with the ability he has, the physical presence that he has."
Bickell has become more than just a big body.
"When I bring my physicality, I think it opens the ice for my linemates," Bickell said. "The opportunities for me have been there."
Bickell played in four games in the 2010 playoffs and made a difference against Nashville, but he didn't get his name on the Stanley Cup. That's a motivating factor for him now.
"The experience, what they went through in 2010 was unbelievable, just to be there, to see what it takes to win the ultimate goal," Bickell said. "Experience-wise, it was a good learning experience for me to bring my game where it is."
Bickell considers himself much more consistent now.
"I started my career in the minors because my game needed to be more consistent to be up here," he said. "I felt the last three years it's been something I've wanted to concentrate on. I think as of late this year, it's been a huge boost for me and my confidence. I know I can be more consistent. Just got to keep this rolling here."
Bickell admitted there was a time when he patterned his game after Dustin Penner, now with the Kings but who started with Edmonton.
"He's a bigger guy that has good puck possession, got a great shot," Bickell said. "I think looking at when he was in Edmonton, I kind of patterned myself a similar style as he did.
"But, you know, I'm not Penner. It's my own game. I just need to bring it every night."
Penner was asked what he thought of Bickell.
"He's improved over the last three, four years," Penner said. "I remember him when I was in Edmonton. You need big bodies and competitors in the playoffs. I think that's what he's brought to their team."
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