Blackhawks: Backing the Bickell Benching

According to reports, the Chicago Blackhawks will roll out new-look lines on Tuesday night in an effort to get the team out of a funk. Part of that new look will be Bryan Bickell watching from the press box.

Why is Bickell potentially getting the night off?

Looking back to the end of the season’s first couple weeks, the Blackhawks third line of Bickell, Dave Bolland and Michael Frolik was being praised by people everywhere in the league. And yet, according to Adam Jahns of the Sun-Times, here is what the lines might look like on Tuesday:

First: Patrick Sharp — Jonathan Toews — Michael Frolik
Second: Daniel Carcillo — Patrick Kane — Marian Hossa
Third: Andrew Brunette — Dave Bolland — Rostislav Olesz
Fourth: Viktor Stalberg — Marcus Kruger — Jamal Mayers

So what happened? Honestly, not much.

Bickell, 25, is in the middle of a Byfuglien-esque stretch of hockey right now. And we’re not talking about the good, “make Luongo cry” Byfuglien. Since Oct. 18, Bickell has zero points, is minus-seven, and has six penalty minutes.

What’s worse, he has been credited with as many shots on net as he has hits – only 13 – in those nine games. His ice time has been fairly consistent over that stretch, but his play hasn’t been.

Frolik’s offensive game has actually improved over the same stretch. While his plus-minus is still grossly on the wrong side of the ledger (minus-four over the stretch), Frolik has three goals and two assists in his last nine contests. That is why the Blackhawks have bumped him up onto the first line with Jonathan Toews in hopes of sparking the offense.

What Blackhawks fans will see tonight is two things.

First, if Rostislav Olesz still exists and actually does play, the Hawks will get a third chance to see if he’s worth anything. If he isn’t then the organization knows enough that it should be time to begin considering alternatives with Olesz for the rest of the season (as we discussed yesterday).

Secondly, the Hawks will get a look at what Frolik can do with Toews. He has two 20-goal seasons in his young career, and has been looking for his shot a lot more recently. If he can succeed on the top line, that gives coach Joel Quenneville another option up front.

The third part of the equation won’t be seen until Thursday… assuming Bickell only sits for one night. How the young power forward responds to this not-so-subtle motivational move by Quenneville will play a big part in his role with the Hawks the rest of the season.

4 thoughts on “Blackhawks: Backing the Bickell Benching

  1. I’m glad Q is juggling the lines again. Let’s see if it sparks a few guys tonight. Let’s just move on from the Canucks disaster, which was out of hand almost immediately, and get moving forward.

    Although 10 88 81 was a ridiculous line and much fun to watch, it looked liked Towes was pissed off and working all by himself. His line with Bruno and Stals just wasnt generating enough offense. Towes arguably had to do all the work himself because Bruno is too slow and Stals isn’t that good. Putting Sharpie with Towes gives the lines more balance and gives Towes someone who can actually put the puck in the net so he doesn’t have to do it all himself. Bolland may be getting the short end of the stick here but he can basically shut down any teams line and I expect Olesz to play big and hard tonight since this is the time to prove himself.

    2pts tonight is big even though it is an early November game. Lets go Hawks!

  2. Bruno can’t keep up with his shadow… let alone the other team’s best players if he is on “checking line”… really, If he has to play, perhaps w/ two great skaters and play makers, Hossa and Kane, Bruno might find some open ice, while the D is chasing Kane and Hoss.
    Bruno needs to be replaced by Smith or Morin. Hayes on PP and PK by mid year replacing Bruno and Rusty.

  3. Bryan Bickell needs a one way ticket to Rockford. Victor Stalberg should go with him. These two are AHL players, at best, and don’t belong on a Stanley Cup Contending NHL Team. Well, the experts have said Stanley Cup favorite even. I had predicted after the first week that this team would finish 5th in the Western Conference because I just didn’t see the spark with this team. There are too many reminders of last year. Lethargic performance after lethargic performance after which the players say, “We need to be better.” If you know you need to be better, then be better. There is way too much lazy play from this group. The “jam” that was brought in is not “jamming”. Go back to the Stanley Cup year, the Hawks would not only out skate and out score the competition, they OUT HIT them too. Gone is that team. If they want to contend again, they need to find that team again. Too bad Kyle Beach got injured in Rockford as he was finally showing signs of becoming a responsible player. Where is Ben Smith? We all fell in love with his game at the end of last year because it was complete. I’m hoping Jeremy Morin gets a shot after he’s allowed to right his ship in Rockford after missing so much time with the concussion hangover. And, finally, I’m beginning to wonder, do the players have an issue with coach Q? I mean, you keep hearing him say that the players are making mistakes which are fundamental mistakes on things they stress as foundational to the way they play, yet the mistakes keep getting made. That is a sign of either closed minds or closed ears. And, Duncan Keith can stop getting beat to pucks any time he wants to now. Okay, that’s enough for now.

  4. Oh, and yes, Wall, Jimmy Hayes should be in the mix as a call up too. He’s big and I’ve been impressed by his skating down in Rockford (I live there and see the team often.)

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