With Ben Smith gone to Rockford and no one called up in his place, winger Bryan Bickell has chance to reclaim his spot in the Blackhawks lineup after being a healthy scratch in five consecutive games.
And, he's not about to let it slip from his grasp.
"It's unfortunate it has to come to that," Bickell said. "Ben was working here hard and to show that he wants to be here. Unfortunately, he's gone down. But I'll take the opportunity and do the best I can do with it."
Bickell had an impressive rookie campaign last season, displaying a solid wrist shot and recording 17 goals. But this season, Bickell has been different. He didn't score once in the month of November, which led to Smith's initial recall and him being a healthy scratch.
"It was quite frustrating the first couple games," said Bickell, who has three goals and a minus-8 rating in 24 games. "I was hard on myself. But I had to take it on the ice and pick up my work ethic. ... I think the work has paid off."
Coach Joel Quenneville would like to see the 6-4, 233-pound Bickell assert himself physically more often. At practice Tuesday, Bickell was back on center Dave Bolland's checking line. Andrew Brunette was at the other wing.
"We like his speed, we like his size, his physicality," Quenneville said. "He can be better with the puck. Defensively, he's got some responsibilities when [Bolland] gets matchups. He had a really strong year for us last year. He had a good start. We want to get him back to that pace."
As far as Smith, Quenneville said assigning him to Rockford was a matter of him getting more playing time.
"I think Benny his upside offensively, he can give us something there," Quenneville said. "I think not playing the quantity or the quality that we would like or he would like, we want him playing. Having an extra guy around here, he's in position where we can get him back there and get that game back to where he finished the season with us [last year]."
Ray Emery will remain in goal for the Hawks when they play the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday.