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Blackhawks forwards Bickell, Kruger to play Game 1

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was coy Monday when asked whether forward Bryan Bickell sat out the final 40 minutes of Game 7 of the Western Conference Final because of injury or poor play.

"We'll say it was my decision, but we'll say a little bit of both," Quenneville said.

Bickell and center Marcus Kruger each will play in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports), Quenneville said.

Bickell did not play again Saturday after leaving the ice with 3:36 left in the first period of Chicago's series-clinching 5-3 win against the Anaheim Ducks. He did not have a shot on goal or a hit in 4:22 over seven shifts.

Kruger missed the final 6:07 for an unknown reason.

Bickell has not scored a goal in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He's the Blackhawks' biggest forward and leads the postseason with 99 hits. That, however, is not the only area Quenneville would like to see Bickell utilize his size.

"I thought he had a real good Game 6, a good response in a tough game," Quenneville said. "Physically he has to bring it. He adds that element to our team that helps us. Obviously some scoring [is needed], but going to the net, being hard to play against, bring some pace."

Quenneville said David Rundblad and Kyle Cumiskey most likely are going to continue filling the fifth and sixth defense spots, but rookie Trevor van Riemsdyk (wrist surgery) made the trip and will be reassessed at practice Tuesday.

Quenneville is keeping his options open regarding the Blackhawks' top line. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane started Game 7 with Brandon Saad, and the line scored the game's first three goals.

"It's nice having some flexibility, and we still haven't made up our mind yet," he said.

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