Bryan Bickell, Michal Handzus

‘Hawks re-sign Bickell: Four years, $16 million


After clearing some cap space by dealing Dave Bolland to Toronto and Michael Frolik to Winnipeg, the Chicago Blackhawks signed power forward Bryan Bickell to a four-year contract extension.

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports it’s a $16 million deal, with an average annual cap hit of $4 million. That’s a sizeable raise for Bickell, who was making a modest $541,666 per year on his old deal.

The 27-year-old winger had a breakthrough playoff performance en route to the Stanley Cup, in which he scored 17 points in 23 games — including nine goals — emerging as the big-body, net-front presence the club lacked since Dustin Byfuglien filled it during the 2010 Stanley Cup run.

That came on the heels of a successful 2013 regular season, in which he had 23 points in 48 games while averaging close to 13 minutes per game.

Bickell had indicated his desire to stay in Chicago, hinting that he’d be willing to take a hometown discount to remain in the Windy City. He was originally selected by the ‘Hawks at the 2004 NHL Entry Draft and has spent all six of his professional seasons with the team.

According to LeBrun, Bickell will receive a $1 million bonus plus $2 million in salary for next season, then $4 million in 2014-15, then $4.5 million in each of last two years of the deal.

Should be noted that Chicago shed approximately $5.7 million in salary today with the Bolland and Frolik deals.

Vatrano presence: Bruins edge Red Wings in overtime

Frank Vatrano David Krejci

The Boston Bruins keep flipping the script.

In Wednesday’s case, it swerved to a “Cinderella” story, as little-known forward Frank Vatrano scored two of Boston’s three goals – including the overtime clincher – as the B’s beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 (OT).

Here’s his first goal of the night:

While this is his overtime game-winner:

It wasn’t a perfect night for the 21-year-old, yet it may have been a convincing one.

The Bruins continue to begin a month on a sour note before ending up with impressive sprees.

October: 0-3-0 start, finished month with four straight wins and victories in six of seven contests.

November: 0-3-0 start, losses in four of five; currently on a four-game winning strek with victories in five of six.

Boston faces a challenge in closing this month out against the Rangers on Friday, and it’s possible that this trend may continue, as they begin December with a three-game road trip through Western Canada.

More than anything else, the safest bet with the Bruins is for ups and downs.

Crosby roars, Malkin scores in OT for Penguins win

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Controversy just seems to find the Pittsburgh Penguins. Credit Sidney Crosby & Co. for responding with a win on Wednesday.

Crosby generated two pretty goals, including this slam-dunk slapper:

… While Evgeni Malkin‘s overtime-winner stood as the Penguins managed a 4-3 overtime win against the St. Louis Blues tonight.

(You can see Malkin’s OT-clincher in the video above this post.)

Will this win and strong performance from Crosby silence murmurs about his relationship with Mario Lemieux? Probably not, yet it likely turns the volume down in some ways, including killing the “Is he struggling because of distractions” storyline.

You know, at least for a little while. Maybe.

Fight video: Claude Giroux vs. Nick Leddy


Claude Giroux isn’t the nastiest, most physical captain the Philadelphia Flyers have employed. Even so, he can be feisty at times.

Wednesday showed that, as he clearly wasn’t happy with an earlier Nick Leddy hit, and eventually got the New York Islanders defenseman to drop his gloves.

You can see the fight and the check that inspired that scrap in the video above.

It’s the fourth fight Giroux has been a part of, with his most recent adversary being may his most bitter rival.

Not a heavyweight bout between Giroux and Leddy, mind you, but sometimes it’s amusing to soak in such a rare sight.

Update: The fight may have inspired the Islanders more than the Flyers, as they bested Philly 3-1 on Wednesday.

Carter Hutton gets flipped, stays in game

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Carter Hutton is getting something that might make fellow Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne jealous: goal support.

Still, there was at least one moment where Rinne was likely happy to be on the bench, as Hutton was left flipping during this collision with Buffalo Sabres forward Marcus Foligno:

Remarkably, Hutton remained in the game.

If you’re the type who loves adding to your “hockey players are tough” files, put this under the goalies section.

Check out this incredible shot of that moment:

Update: The Predators held off the Buffalo Sabres to win 3-2.