Bickell elevating his game in the playoffs

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Chicago Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell started a four-year, $12 million contract this season. The hope was that the 28-year-old would elevate his game after a solid 2013 campaign and a great performance in the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup-winning run.

Instead, Bickell recorded just 15 points in 59 games in 2013-14, averaged 11:21 minutes per contest, and was listed as a healthy scratch more than once.

“We need more,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said of Bickell back in January.

They’ve gotten more out of him since the playoffs started. He’s been logging 16:14 minutes per game and scored the game-tying goal in Chicago’s 4-3 overtime win last night.

“He … was gunning for the playoffs. He was picking up his game. I think he likes the big stage,” Quenneville speculated, per the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Potash.

Bickell is one of the Blackhawks’ key complimentary players, which is why they were willing to risk overpaying him rather than let him walk as an unrestricted free agent. The Blackhawks need all the help they can get in their tight series against the Blues, so naturally it’s important to them for Bickell to continue to show that he has put his rough regular season in the rear view mirror.