By now, everybody knows the rap on Bryan Bickell — outstanding in the playoffs, not so much during the regular season.
Some things never change.
Bickell, with just one goal in 12 games this year, has seen his ice time plummet recently, getting just 6:40 in a shootout loss to Ottawa last week and 7:21 in Sunday’s loss to Winnipeg — these coming after he’d already received a “slap on the wrist” from head coach Joel Quenneville.
So, cue the usual:
Bickell said it’s tough to snap out of a slump when you’re playing 7 minutes a night. But “pissed-off is a good thing to get you fired up.”
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) November 4, 2014
Bickell’s been through this before. Last year, the 28-year-old struggled through a nightmarish second half of the season, sitting several times as a healthy scratch before turning to YouTube and Dr. Gary to try and rebuild his confidence. (Just read the link.)
The hope, of course, is that Bickell will eventually do what he always does: Show up in the spring.
For all of his regular season struggles, there’s no denying Bickell’s impact in the playoffs. He scored seven goals and 10 points in 19 games last year as the ‘Hawks fell one game short of the Stanley Cup Final; the year prior, he had nine goals and 17 points in 23 games when Chicago won it all.
But it’s clear Quenneville wants more during the regular season, and is trying to find ways to motivate.
Against Toronto, Bickell got just three shifts in the third period and didn’t play at all during final 7:38. Against Winnipeg, same thing — just three shifts in the third, including a 10-minute benching midway through the frame.
Quenneville didn’t directly call Bickell out following those games, but did make it clear that ice time — or, lack thereof — was based on performance.
‘‘Delegation of ice time is probably one of the better mechanisms you can use as a staff,’’ Quenneville said, per the Sun-Times. ‘‘But you educate them and, when you’ve got a little history there, put them in situations where they can excel.
“And they might lose or gain some quality ice time based on performances.’’