In the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, one could make the argument that no Blackhawks skater was as effective with his ice time than Bryan Bickell. In 2014, he has continued his penchant for timely production, recording three points (2G, 1A) in the last three games of the St. Louis series, including the tying goal in Game 4.
Heading into the second round, where the Blackhawks will face either Colorado or Minnesota for the right to play for the Western Conference title, Bickell met with the media to talk about getting back on the ice after a two-day break and preview the team's potential matchups.
With the Avs-Wild series going to Game 7, the Blackhawks got a couple of days to rest before coming back to practice today. Was it beneficial to get away from the rink and rest up before the next round?
Yeah, it was nice. You get into the routine of playing every other day, and that series was a tough one. To get a couple days' rest and then get back at it, we’re excited to get a few days of practice in before the next series.
Do you feel a little jump in your step?
It felt like we hadn’t been on the ice for a week – everyone was really ready to go. To be around the guys again and get the first practice in, was good. Tomorrow will be even better.
With as much hockey as this team has played in the past two seasons, was having these two days off especially important?
That was a tough series. Having those two full days off helped a lot of guys take care of those bumps and bruises; Zus (Michal Handzus) and Hammer (Niklas Hjalmarsson) blocked a lot of shots, and other guys have things like that. Having time to let those little things heal is important.
The team really had to raise the level of play in the past series, and didn’t really have the opportunity to “ease into” the playoffs.
It was a good test to come out of that series. [St. Louis] is a good team. Last year [in the first round] against Minnesota, we weren’t playing good hockey, and then we met Detroit, who really let us have it, but we made it through. Coming out of this past series the way we did, we’ve got some confidence heading into the next round.
Does not knowing who you’re facing affect preparation for the next series?
Today was just more to get back on the ice, getting back into the flow of things. Tomorrow is more video and preparation for whoever we’re going to play.
Do you have any preference on who you’d like to play?
No. There’s different sides to it; Colorado has had our number this year. Minnesota has closer travel. The higher altitude in Colorado doesn’t favor the bigger guys like me. But we’re just waiting to see; I’m sure whoever we play, we’re going to adjust.
You mentioned the challenges of playing in Denver... does it take a while to get used to playing at altitude?
It’s tough, but I think you get used to it. A lot of the time, you’re playing a back-to-back, and you have to adjust quickly. But you can adjust to it with time.