CHICAGO – Bryan Bickell has watched his point production fluctuate throughtout the playoffs, remaining highly visible at times and completely disappearing at others.
Prior to the Blackhawks 6-5 overtime win in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, when he contributed a pair of assists – including on Brent Seabrook's game-winner – Bickell had been shut out by the Bruins. Over the first three games of the series, Bickell had his hands full trying to contend with Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara, whose imposing 6-foot-9, 255-pound frame gave Bickell fits.
Bickell admits that trying to keep his cool against Chara while remaining focused on doing his job hasn't been easy. Finishing hits on Chara requires a little more effort – and thinking – than against others Bickell has squared off against.
Bickell, who has registered eight goals and seven assists during the playoffs, has the luxury of playing with top-liners Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. But some of his offensive struggles earlier in the series came when he tried to do too much despite the talent around him, forcing Bickell to change his approach.
"(Hawks coach Joel Quenneville) talks to me – just to play my game and not not get too cute or make fancy plays," Bickell said after Saturday's morning skate. "I just have to go up and down my wing, finish my checks and go in front. If I do that, I know I'll open up ice for (Toews and Kane).
"If you give those guys space, they're going to make plays."
Not so special: The Hawks have already allowed four power play goals on 14 chances during the Stanley Cup Final, one more than they had on 58 chances during the first three rounds of the playoffs. The Bruins notched two power play goals, including one off a bounce off the back glass during Game 4.
It marked the first time the Hawks' penalty kill has allowed two goals in a game since March 10 against Edmonton. The Bruins have used some different approaches to the power play, forcing the Hawks' penalty kill to tweak their plan, with varying levels of success.
"You're going to have breakdowns – it's going to happen," Hawks center Dave Bolland said Saturday morning. "But you still stay strong, you sill stick with your game plan...but overall, I think our (penalty kill) has been pretty good.
"The approach is the same. You try to make sure they don't score. We're trying to break it down and try to make sure they don't get (the puck) in their zone and set up as quick as they want to and get that puck out as quick as we can."
Extra time: Three games of the Final have reached overtime, the first time that's happened in 20 years.
Players said Saturday that as evenly matched as the series has been, they're not surprised when games extend beyond 60 minutes. But even with the frequency the Hawks and Bruins have played beyond regulation, Quenneville said working an overtime strategy into his pregame strategy isn't part of his routine.
"I think that whether you're looking at the length of a game going into it, I think you're playing to win the game in 60 minutes," Quenneville said. " I think that's your thought process. As you go along you're just dealing with trying to play the game accordingly afterwards."