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 over 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 on Wednesday when the Blackhawks defeated the Boston Bruins, 6-5, to tie the best-of-7 series 2-2.
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 battling with Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara:
Let's start out with a funny story.
When I was playing for the Ottawa 67's, Zdeno Chara was playing for the Ottawa Senators. I took what we called co-op, which gave us school credits toward graduation for working outside of class. One time I did it at a construction site, another time at a sports store, but now I was getting credit for working with the Senators and it was my first real glimpse at Chara.
My job was basically to do things like laundry and fill up the water bottles, you know, things to help the team get ready for practice or clean up after practice. But to see Chara there, to see his work ethic and how physically strong he is, it was just amazing. His body fat is like 4 or 5 percent. He eats healthy and it pays off because he is a beast.
I was mesmerized by how big he is. To see him control guys, control fights, it was amazing. He controls guys everywhere. He's got that strength and he uses it well.
Why do I bring this up? Well, in a bit of an ironic twist of fate, my job now to help us win the Stanley Cup is to battle with and try to control Chara.
It's not easy, but it's my role right now on the line I'm on with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. I've got to thrive in it because when I do I know it opens up ice for them.
Chara is a big man. He covers a lot of ice. He's the best defensive defenseman in the League today. But we need to wear him down and I need to hit him at any chance I get to slow him down and get him out of position. The battle with him for position in front of the net is difficult but I need to stick with it because I know if both of us get to the front of the net that plays to our advantage.
He's a big man and if he's in front he can help us out by screening Tuukka Rask.
I like this challenge of facing Chara and battling with him. It's intimidating and exciting. I don't know that a lot of the guys in the League want to battle against him because 95 percent of the time he's going to come out on top, but playing with Toews and Kane, I know he's going to be out on the ice against us and battling him is what I have to do to help the team.
That's my job. It's important. And I feel comfortable doing it. I know I'm going to lose some battles because of how big and strong he is, but I need to win some to help us.
At the end of the night there will be some bumps and bruises, but that's OK if I do whatever I can to help make this team win. I have all summer to rest and heal from any bumps and bruises.
I know I'll be seeing a lot of him again come Saturday night and that's the price I have to pay to help this team win the ultimate prize.