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 over 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 with Game 6 set for Monday night at TD Garden.
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 how he used to dream about the Stanley Cup and pretend to play for it as a kid:
BOSTON -- As a kid, I always put myself in situations like the one we are in now -- next goal or next game wins the Stanley Cup. I always envisioned the scenario and tried to play it out, whether it was having a mini-series in my basement with mini sticks, playing road hockey with my buddies, pond hockey with them or even just playing some video games.
You wanted to win the Stanley Cup. You wanted to lift it, even if we didn't physically have it in our hands. Now we have a situation here where we can do that if we win Monday night and it's exciting. Talk about a great situation to be in.
I lived on a quiet street back in Orono, Ont., so we didn't have a lot of traffic in front of my house. We were able to get our road sticks out, pull out the nets and play road hockey.
It would always go something like this:
After school I'd run home, get unpacked, say hi to my parents and tell them, 'I'm going out to play some hockey with my buddies.' We'd play on the road or sometimes we'd go to the local pond. We didn't make any trophy or have any; it was all imaginary. We'd pretend like we were lifting it up in real life, but it would just be our arms in the air.
Just picturing it was great. Just thinking that the Stanley Cup could be in my hands was awesome.
But I can't say that I ever dreamed it would actually happen, like it did in 2010. I was so young and while I dreamt of doing it, it's surreal. There are only so many kids that get to live the dream and play in the NHL. There are only so many people that have a chance to do what we can do Monday night.
You dream about it, but it's an absolute thrill to be in this situation. Hopefully we can finish it.
Our team in 2010 did finish it and I was a part of that team, but it was different than it is now. I was the guy who got called up and sent down about 16 times that year. I was the main call-up for when they needed someone and I played four games in the playoffs, but I did not play in the Cup Final against the Philadelphia Flyers.
When I got a chance to raise the Cup the night we won it, it was surreal, but it was also a little weird. I was there to help them out, but it felt like I was there and I wasn't there.
Now being a part of it the way I am, being in the middle of it, I'm there and it's been a fun ride. There have been ups and downs and bumps along the way, but it's been exciting.
It was a rollercoaster year with the lockout, playing hockey in Europe because I didn't think there would be a season, but I still had to prepare myself. Then having a short season, it felt like they were playoff games all the time. We had an epic start, made history, but we have one big game now ahead of us and we have to win it if we're going to prove it was meant to be.
Author: Bryan Bickell | Special to NHL.com