Sep 27, 2013, 8:36 AM EDT
“Under Pressure” is a preseason series we’ll be running on PHT. For each team in the NHL, we’ll pick one player, coach, GM, mascot or whatever that everyone will be watching closely this season. Feel free to play the song as you read along. Also feel free to go to the comment section and tell us we picked poorly.
For the Chicago Blackhawks we picked… forward Bryan Bickell.
Let’s be honest. Chicago just won the Stanley Cup for the second time in four seasons. Expectations are high, but as a team, they could fall short this season and there wouldn’t be a lot of anger or calls for change.
There are players though that are out to prove that they can replicate their personal success from last season and then there are players that will be asked to do far more in 2013-14. Bickell fits into both categories.
Bickell has averaged just 12:39 minutes per game over the course of his career and he didn’t get much more playing time than that during the 2013 regular season, but he had a solid campaign and then took things a step further in the playoffs. He finished second on the Blackhawks and fifth in the league with 17 points in 23 postseason contests.
The timing couldn’t have been better for him because he was set to become an unrestricted free agent, but Chicago couldn’t let their playoff hero go so they inked him to a four-year, $16 million deal. That’s quite a step up from his previous three-year agreement that paid him an average of $541,667 annually.
“[Bickell is] one of our key parts of our lineup now. He’s got to know that going into this season and realize he’s not counted on being a third-line player or a checking-line guy.
“He’s got to do what he did in the playoffs. That’s what’s expected from him now.”
And Bickell seems to understand that.
“I need to have that same mind-set I had in the playoffs all year,” Bickell told the Chicago Sun-Times. “I felt I was focused and really learned what I needed to do to be the player I want to be.”
It’s a lot to ask of Bickell, who had just 67 points in 172 NHL games before the 2013 campaign, but the Blackhawks are taking a significant chance. If he regresses and performs as a third liner, then his $4 million cap hit will look pretty bad on a team that’s trying to make the most of their glory years.
The Blackhawks didn’t want to lose significant pieces of their team like they did 2010. Now Bickell needs to show that they were right to count him among the players that they couldn’t part with.
For all of our Under Pressure series, click here.
Mar 12, 2014, 1:21 AM EDT
He received a minor penalty for the hit.
Mar 12, 2014, 1:04 AM EDT
JVR seems OK, though.
Mar 11, 2014, 11:48 PM EDT
Dallas moves into the second wild card spot for now.
Mar 11, 2014, 11:26 PM EDT
The San Jose Sharks aren’t happy about their game, either.
Mar 11, 2014, 10:52 PM EDT
And an interesting one overall for the East.
Mar 11, 2014, 10:25 PM EDT
Another memorable save for the icon.
Mar 11, 2014, 10:07 PM EDT
That’s eight in a row for Pittsburgh between these two teams.
Mar 11, 2014, 9:11 PM EDT
The contest featured his former team the Saginaw Spirit.
Mar 11, 2014, 8:33 PM EDT
The 20-year-old had been missing since March 3.
Mar 11, 2014, 7:49 PM EDT
On the bright side, there’s the Batmobile.
Mar 11, 2014, 7:19 PM EDT
The Pens have won seven in a row vs. Washington, including Monday.
Mar 11, 2014, 5:33 PM EDT
Because there’s a really good chance they will.
Mar 11, 2014, 4:56 PM EDT
Big development for the ‘Hawks.
Mar 11, 2014, 4:47 PM EDT
Click for the details.
Mar 11, 2014, 4:26 PM EDT
All the latest from the blue paint…
Mar 11, 2014, 3:54 PM EDT
“We played well in the first game, but then it all disappeared.”
Mar 11, 2014, 3:49 PM EDT
The sons of George and Brian, respectively.
Mar 11, 2014, 2:49 PM EDT
Whether he does or not will impact the Flyers’ roster.
Mar 11, 2014, 2:41 PM EDT
A big defenseman from Lake Superior State.
Mar 11, 2014, 2:18 PM EDT
Burly power forward’s in the midst of a disappointing season.
- Stars win one night after Peverley collapse, give Miller first Blues loss 3
- Crosby, Pens continue recent dominance of Ovechkin, Caps 19
- Terry Trafford’s body found in Michigan on Tuesday 8
- PHT Extra: What happens if the Caps miss the playoffs? 17
- Wings can’t afford regulation loss to Jackets 6
- ‘It’s obvious Tortorella can’t come back next year,’ writes Vancouver reporter 57
- NHL on NBCSN: Capitals fight to earn first win vs. Penguins in 26 months 11
- Vanquished: Isles stun Canucks with seven-goal third period 27
- Peverley asked to return to game following ‘cardiac event’ 23
- Peverley hospitalized, conscious after collapsing on Stars bench (Update) 19
- BLOCKBUSTER: Lightning trade St. Louis to Rangers for Callahan (82)
- Kings make splash, acquire Gaborik from Columbus (72)
- Steve Moore remains shocked, disgusted about Todd Bertuzzi attack (71)
- Chiasson ‘shaken up’ by Peverley incident, won’t dress for Stars tonight (69)
- Flyers’ Luke Schenn on first-period brawl: ‘That’s the way it goes’ (57)