Chicago Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell has become a prominent figure during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, taking on a key offensive role for a team seeking to win its second championship in four seasons.
Bickell, 27, scored eight goals during the first three rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs -- one fewer than he had in 48 regular-season games. In the Western Conference Final, Bickell scored goals in three consecutive games, then added a pair of assists in the clinching Game 5 win against the Los Angeles Kings.
Bickell was shut out through the first three games in the Stanley Cup Final, but he came through with two assists in Game 4 and added another in Chicago's 3-1 win in Game 5 on Saturday that gave the Blackhawks a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 championship series.
He has been gracious enough to agree to keep a player blog that will appear on NHL.com throughout the series against Boston.
In his latest entry, Bickell writes about being one win away from winning the Stanley Cup:
It's exciting to be in this situation. It's surreal to be in this situation.
However, we have to still think about carrying this momentum we have after back-to-back wins into Boston. The Bruins have been a good team in their building. They're not just going to lay down for us. That's not their style and that's not their history.
You can look back to 2011, the year they won the Cup, they were down like this, 3-2, going into Game 6 in their building. They won at home and then they went to Vancouver and won there to win the Cup.
We're not quite there yet. Yes, we're one win away, but it's still do-or-die for us, at least that's how we have to think about it. We know we can still lose in Boston and have a chance to win it here, but obviously nobody wants to even think about something like that.
Hopefully we can finish it off in Boston.
I think we really need to think about the position we're in to let it sink in, to understand what kind of situation we're in. But we can't let nerves or excitement bother us. There have been nerves every game in this series, but after a couple of shifts you get over them and you're out there competing and doing whatever it takes to get wins.
That's what happened in Game 5. I felt really good coming out of Boston tied 2-2 and having momentum on our side. We had a great good morning skate Saturday. We were relaxed and having some fun, and come game time we were ready.
Our game plan was there and we executed it really well. We didn't take any unnecessary penalties like we had in previous games. We didn't give the Bruins much of a chance to get back in the game.
Jonathan Toews didn't play in the third period. I guess Q thought it was best to be cautious. I'm not sure. But other guys stepped up to shut down Boston's chances. We did whatever we could to get the win and I felt Marcus Kruger, Dave Bolland and Andrew Shaw helped us play a good third period.
Overall it was a good win, setting us up for what we hope is a great situation in Boston.
I've written about my parents in this blog before and they finally got to Chicago at about 4 o'clock in the morning Saturday. Fortunately they didn't wake me up, so I was able to get a good night of sleep to be prepared, but I was able to see them for about an hour after I woke up.
They had a long trip from Orono, Ont., about a nine-hour drive. My dad doesn't like flying too much, so they hop in the car and drive when they can. I talked to them quickly to check on what's going on, but then I left and I haven't seen them since because I came to the rink and we always stay in a hotel on the day of games to make sure we get a full nap in and a good pregame meal in order to get focused on the game.
They are going to Boston, but they're actually going to be flying this time. We'll see how that works out. My dad has flown before, but he chooses to drive most of the time. With the situation we're in now, I don't think he has much of a choice.
Hopefully, that moment comes in Boston when they will get the chance to come out onto the ice and celebrate with me, raise the Stanley Cup with me. My fiancée was with me the last time in Philadelphia, but to have my parents and sister with me would certainly be thrilling.
But it's not something I can focus on or even think about right now. We're still one win away and it's a long ways to go. It's going to be a grueling game, and we're looking forward to the task.