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.
Apr 19, 2014, 1:57 AM EDT
“We should have been 5-on-3.”
Apr 19, 2014, 1:29 AM EDT
Ryan Getzlaf, Frederik Andersen and Corey Perry “are winning that battle,” he said.
Apr 19, 2014, 12:56 AM EDT
Eventful last few days for the captain.
Apr 18, 2014, 11:59 PM EDT
“It was one individual effort that made the difference today.”
Apr 18, 2014, 11:14 PM EDT
Apr 18, 2014, 10:40 PM EDT
Bolts just needed a spark, he explained.
Apr 18, 2014, 10:27 PM EDT
There was no penalty on the play.
Apr 18, 2014, 10:08 PM EDT
Jimmy Howard had a shutout in the goaltending duel.
Apr 18, 2014, 9:55 PM EDT
Can Dallas build on its late-game momentum?
Apr 18, 2014, 9:44 PM EDT
Game 3 will be played in Montreal.
Apr 18, 2014, 9:09 PM EDT
Naturally, the Blackhawks-Blues triple-overtime game was very popular.
Apr 18, 2014, 8:51 PM EDT
Detroit was near the bottom of the pack in hits in the regular season.
Apr 18, 2014, 8:34 PM EDT
They took a 1-0 lead over Tampa Bay in the process.
Apr 18, 2014, 8:23 PM EDT
“We expected a tough series against (St. Louis).”
Apr 18, 2014, 7:43 PM EDT
The rookie had three assists last night.
Apr 18, 2014, 7:04 PM EDT
The last of the first round series is about to begin.
Apr 18, 2014, 6:34 PM EDT
Montreal has a 1-0 series lead.
Apr 18, 2014, 6:17 PM EDT
This isn’t the first time he’s been fined.
Apr 18, 2014, 5:59 PM EDT
That’s a pretty bold statement, given that Nashville used to have blueliners like Kimmo Timonen and Ryan Suter.
Apr 18, 2014, 5:06 PM EDT
Apparently, the “Coyotes, Ducks, Kings, and Sharks are on board” with relocating their minor-league affiliates closer to home.
- Getzlaf powers Ducks to Game 2 victory, 2-0 series lead over Stars 0
- Video: Lucic spears DeKeyser from behind 69
- Detroit stuns favored Bruins with late goal to take Game 1 34
- Crashing Lightning: Montreal crushes Tampa Bay, takes 2-0 series lead 6
- Quenneville gets $25,000 fine for ‘bush-league move’ 12
- NHL looking into Quenneville’s ‘grabby’ gesture from Game 1 41
- Getzlaf to play Game 2, looks awful 20
- Video: PHT Extra — can Detroit exploit Boston’s blueline? 13
- Sharks go on the attack, defeat Kings in Game 1 16
- Avalanche win in OT, complete third-period comeback 63