In the middle of the Chicago Blackhawks‘ recent funk, there was a name that was being brought up every now and then who was just as much a victim of the slump as everyone else. Bryan Bickell was, for a long time, a role player until he broke out in the 2013 playoffs. Bickell looked to continue that this year until he was sidelined with a knee injury in the first game of the Circus Trip against the Colorado Avalanche. Since then, he’s struggled to find his scoring again.
Bickell was benched for much of the game against the New York Rangers. Understandably, he was not happy about it.
“It’s not good,” he told the media. “You want to be out there helping your team win.”
Bickell has only had six goals and two assists in the games he’s played so far. That’s not the kind of production you’d expect out of someone who got a four-year, $16 million contract during the offseason. Why he hasn’t been able to might be a confidence issue.
“[Head coach Joel Quenneville] knows I have more and I know I have more,” he told the media. “For me, if I’m not confident, he’s not confident he can put me on the ice so I have to work extra on the ice during practice and such to get better and get my game to where it was.”
Bickell’s confidence diagnosis might be the key. That and the knee brace he’s been wearing, which isn’t something he can control. But his confidence is.
Perhaps it’s just jitters that Bickell is suffering from. In all likelihood he’s just having a bad year (like many players do), and the pressure to excel after that postseason could be exacerbating the problem. In this case, Bickell will just have to find the same mentality that helped him during the playoffs.