Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Bickell a big deal for Blackhawks

Categories: Chicago Blackhawks, VAN vs. CHI, Vancouver Canucks

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Chicago Blackhawks left wing Bryan Bickell (29) scores a goal past Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo (1) during the first period in Game 4. (Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press) Chicago Blackhawks left wing Bryan Bickell (29) scores a goal past Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo (1) during the first period in Game 4. (Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press)
Who could have guessed losing Bryan Bickell would be a big deal for the Chicago Blackhawks?

It is because he's been effective throughout the series, providing the Hawks with one of their biggest advantages -- secondary scoring. Bickell scored two goals and one of them, his goal to open Game 4, was a series turning point. Bickell turned Kevin Bieksa inside out, and the Hawks haven't looked back. Bickell along with Michael Frolik and Ben Smith have outscored the Canucks second, third and fourth lines combined.

But Bickell is out after wrist surgery and head coach Joel Quenneville will have to make a decision on this third line. Replacing Bickell will either be Fernando Pisani or Marcus Kruger. Tomas Kopecky isn't ready and won't play.

Recent history is not on the Vancouver Canucks side. In the past 10 Game 7's in the NHL playoffs, the away team has won eight of them. The Blackhawks have continued to say all of the pressure is on the Canucks. Vancouver is the Stanley Cup favourite which has blown a 3-0 lead in the series.

Patrick Kane said: "I still feel all the pressure's on them," Kane said. "They're the ones who were up 3-0, they're the first seed in the West, they were kind of predicted to win the Cup this year and go really far."

Several of the Canucks admitted to nerves. That's understandable with history closing in. But Henrik said the team isn't thinking about the possibility of a loss, which could be considered the worst in Canucks' history.

"We're not thinking about losing a 3-0 lead or anything," Henrik said. "It's not on our minds. We've got a Game 7 at home and we're looking at it from the positive side. We're looking forward to a long road ahead. It's up to us to do it."

Henrik has downplayed the impact recent history. The Blackhawks have ended the Canucks season in each of the past two years.

"It's a Game 7 but it's not about our history with Chicago because it's two totally new teams with new faces," he said. "So I don't treat it any differently than the other Game 7s I've been in. But it's different because before we were never really the big favourite and we are now."

The Canucks are making three big lineup changes from Game 6. Sami Salo is out with an injury, which means Keith Ballard, a $4.2 million US healthy scratch in Games 5 and 6, draws back in the lineup. Cody Hodgson is out, and Tanner Glass is back in which gives the Canucks some more grit. And the biggest is in net. After watching Cory Schneider getting the Game 6, and relieving him when cramps knocked him out of the game, Roberto Luongo makes his return. No one can be sure with what to expect from Luongo. He's been great in some games this series and mediocre in others. The Canucks said they have full confidence in him.

"I think he's going to answer the bell," Schneider said. "I have no doubt in my mind. He's a competitor in the truest nature and you see how much he hates to lose or lose a shutout.
"He's pretty sick and tired of everybody questioning him and having to answer all the speculation and proving himself all the time when he's been one of the best goalies the past 10 years."

Expected lines


Stalberg - Toews - Kane
Smith - Sharp - Hossa
Pisani - Bolland - Frolik
Scott - Johnson - Brouwer

Keith - Leddy
Hjalmerson - Campbell
Campoli - Scott