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Alex Ovechkin got his ice time tonight; Stu Bickel? Not so much

May 3, 2012, 12:39 AM EDT

ovikneegetty Getty Images

After days worth of stories about a superstar getting minimal ice time, it’s probably appropriate to shift from feeling stunned about Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin‘s reps to feeling really bad for New York Rangers defenseman Stu Bickel.

Ovechkin played an impressive 35:14 minutes in that triple overtime marathon, putting him in the thick of things with the Capitals’ biggest time on ice earners. The only players who really towered over Ovi were (logically enough) defensemen, as Dennis Wideman (40:42) and John Carlson (39:19) are going to need the most electrolytes and post-game protein.

So instead of second-guessing Dale Hunter about Ovi’s minutes, the attention might turn to John Tortorella’s total dismissal of Stu Bickell. I have no choice but to put this tidbit in italics and bold face:

In more than five and a half periods, Bickell received 3:24 of ice time.

Let that one sink in for a moment.

James Mirtle points out that Bickell’s final shift came with 15:42 left in the second period of Game 3. In other words, he sat on the bench for the equivalent of a full game. The Rangers’ big-minute defensemen carried the load instead, then. Ryan McDonagh played almost a regulation game’s worth of minutes (53:17), Marc Staal had 49:34, Dan Girardi had 44:26 and Michael Del Zotto had 43:33. If there’s one positive the Capitals can take away that’s a bit more tangible, it’s that New York’s D played huge minutes.

There are about a million questions one can ask about this memorable contest, but let me utter a rather obvious one: Bickell has to be a healthy scratch in Game 4, right?

  1. stakex - May 3, 2012 at 12:54 AM

    Wow. I can’t imagine how hard it had to be for Bickell to sit there for three periods without a shift. I also don’t know why Torts wouldn’t have given him a shift here and there (even as a winger perhaps) to not only give his other players a bit more of a break, but have a player on the ice with fresh wheels during the overtimes. Makes me wonder exactlly what he did to end up not only in the dog house, but a dog house on the roof no less…..

    • jkay1818 - May 3, 2012 at 1:01 AM

      i see you post on here a lot, you know torts always sits him in the 3rd, nothing new. he even does it in the regular season. i agree with you about a few shifts at forward but as the OT went on, the rangers had better legs. thats really risky throwing a cold player out there like that in such an impt spot. especially since he is prone to take penalties and turn it over a lot (which he does often)

      • stakex - May 3, 2012 at 10:24 AM

        Oh believe me I know Torts doesn’t like to use Bickell late in the game if he absolutely doesn’t have to, and your right about the Rangers having the better legs late in the game. Still though, just a bit of a suprise he didn’t see a few shifts once it hit the 2nd and 3rd overtimes.

  2. jkay1818 - May 3, 2012 at 12:59 AM

    is there really an article in regards to stu bickell? It didn’t really make much sense to throw bickell in this game after all of these OT’s, he was sitting on the bench, not in the game, a difft mindset. He would have been a complete liability out there, thats a recipe for disaster. A turnover, his legs not fresh etc. Steve Eminger should be playing over him anyway, then the rangers can roll with 6 dmen. Bickell is a tough guy and when playing decent, can get the puck out of the zone.
    To answer your last question, no, bickell won’t be a scratch in game 4. If you watched any games in this series or any of the ranger games since bickell has been called up, he is benched 9 out of 10 times in the 3rd period. I dont even have to check the stats sheet for game 1 or 2 and i can guarantee he MAYBE topped out at 2 mins combined in the third. this has been going on since the regular season. eminger has been out and now back and sauer who can fit in to their top 4 pairing at times has been out since the early winter.
    any hockey mind wouldnt have thrown bickell into that situation and an intense game like that after sitting that long, it would be absurd. Unless he throws in eminger which is highly unlikely, bickell will be dressed for game 4. good article.

  3. rwmilli - May 3, 2012 at 8:43 AM

    Were we watching the same game….? The caps poured on the pressure throughout the last 2 OT periods, I’m not a fan of either team btw, but the caps looked fresher and had more scoring opportunities. They were actually setting up plays instead of shooting easily seen puck after easily seen puck. Not to mention the fact they had 10-15+ turnovers in their own end, I credit king henrick for keeping these guys alive.

    • stakex - May 3, 2012 at 10:26 AM

      No, I do not think you were watching the same game as everyone else.

      Caps were better and faster in the first overtime, but the Rangers slowly took over going into the second and were the better team from there on out.

      • rfoster75 - May 3, 2012 at 10:51 AM

        neither eam was the better team until the very end. Sort of a silly argument. Opportunities were had by both teams. The Caps owned some golden ones however, of which they did not capitalize. When you do that more than once –they did it three times—you play with fire.

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