Bickell: Quenneville’s ‘slap on the wrist’ sparked improvement

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Bryan Bickell’s developed a certain rep during his time in Chicago — specifically, that of a guy that needs prodding to live up to his potential.

And this season has been no different.

Bickell was largely a non-factor through the first four games of the year so, prior to No. 5, ‘Hawks head coach Joel Quenneville gave the burly power forward a kick in the rear, so to speak, and Bickell responded with a goal, assist and six hits in Tuesday’s 4-0 drubbing of Philadelphia.

More, from CSN Chicago:

“That’s what I aim to do every game,” Bickell said of his Tuesday performance. “I think to be physical — I know the last handful of games weren’t what they wanted or what I wanted. I kind of got a slap on the wrist and said ‘wake up’ and for me to be physical… it’s definitely important to get me going. (Tuesday) was a step in the right direction.”

Throughout the Blackhawks’ first four games, Bickell had tallied just one assist, and the third line as a whole failed to do much in terms of production prior to Tuesday’s game.

Bickell said coach Joel Quenneville sat down with him prior to the Flyers’ arrival and told him things had to change.

“He just talks to me and knows I need to be better,” Bickell said.

The bigger story here might be how Bickell found instant chemistry on a line with Brad Richards and Brandon Saad. Amazingly, it’s Chicago’s third line — Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa man the top unit while Andrew Shaw centers Kris Versteeg and Patrick Kane on the second — and it could be a boon for Quenneville, who not only sparked Bickell but also found potential linemates for Richards, who’s still trying to find his groove in Chicago.

Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

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CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.

Lightning donate $2 million to Hurricane Ian relief efforts

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TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

The NHL team announced that $1 million each will be donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.

“This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Vinik said in a statement released by the team. “In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”

Ian made landfall Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of the Tampa Bay area. The Lightning postponed two home preseason games and moved the club’s training camp to Nashville, Tennessee, during the storm.

Maple Leafs sign defenseman Rasmus Sandin to 2-year deal

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TORONTO — Rasmus Sandin has signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the club announced on Thursday.

The 22-year-old from Sweden was the 29th overall selection in the 2018 draft. Sandin had 16 points in 51 games with Toronto last season. He’s played in 88 career regular-season games, with six goals and 22 assists, and has one goal in five playoff games.

“Got a great set of tools,” fellow defenseman Jake Muzzin said. “With experience, I think they’re only going to get better.”

The signing comes as the Leafs’ blueliners been hit hard by injuries. Muzzin has been dealing with a back issue, and Timothy Liljegren recently had surgery for a hernia.

Toronto then lost Jamie Benn (groin) and Carl Dahlstrom (shoulder) in Wednesday’s 3-0 preseason victory over the Montreal Canadiens, pressing forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Alexander Kerfoot into defensive roles for two periods.