Is there a point to Stu Bickel right now?

In last night’s 3-2 victory that sent the series to a seventh game, Stu Bickel was nowhere to be found. In fact, he only played three shifts the entire game for less than two minutes of ice time. In the Rangers 2-0 loss in Game Five, Bickel played just seven shifts for less than five minutes of ice time. Game Four? Seven shifts for 3:33 of ice time. Game Three? Ten and 9:18. Game Two? Six and 3:40. His first ever playoff game? Eight and 6:42.

Total all that together, and you get 41 shifts for roughly 32 minutes of ice time. Bickel is getting about as much time as Mike Rupp. John Tortorella is rolling five defensemen right now, and it makes you wonder why.

Bickel was one of the coach’s favorite defensemen during the season. Bickel saw time on the top four while Marc Staal was working his way back to regular playing time. With Staal fully healthy and back to at least 85% of his former self, compounded with the emergence of Anton Stralman as an apparent offensive and defensive force, Bickel has been seeing more pine than a dendrophiliac.

It makes you wonder if and when someone like Steve Eminger –who is healthy enough to play– will get a shot in the lineup. It’s not like Bickel is bringing anything other than some intimidation to the bench. But intimidation only means something if you play. Just ask John Scott how long his intimidation factor lasted with the Rangers.

Prior to Game Six, when the Rangers looked like they were running around in their own zone, you have to question why Torts didn’t at least try to dress someone with more foot speed than Bickel. Was Eminger just not ready? Surely the Rangers would have benefited from at least dressing him a game to see what they have. It’s not like they are really sacrificing ice time, reliability, or chemistry (that we know of). What Eminger lacks in physicality he makes up for in foot speed, at least when you compare him to the now pine-riding Bickel.

Every single forward has more ice time than Bickel, including Rupp. That speaks volumes when there are twice as many forwards as there are defensemen. The top five on the Rangers appear more than willing to play the full 60 minutes –well, 58 minutes.

Maybe it has to do with the fact that this series has been played at even strength for about 50% of the series, and there haven’t been many opportunities to get Bickel out there at even strength.

Maybe it has to do with matchups. Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh must be out there for the Jason Spezza line. Marc Staal and Anton Stralman must be out there for any combination of Kyle Turris, Chris Neil, and any other scoring threat. Bickel could only be getting ice time against the Senators fourth line, but even they are seeing twice amount of ice as Bickel.

So again, what is the point of dressing him right now? Is there anything lost in seeing what Eminger can do?

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  • Im a bit lost on this as well. He could definitely add strength down low when OTT crashes the net but I guess Torts plan is to try to stop them at the blueline with speeder D to prevent them getting down low. But that’s not working all that well.

    Maybe it would be worse with Bickle? Still, Eminger hasnt played in forever and I would still rather see Bickle get minutes over him. Hell even play him as forward and try to take out Neil. Just have him shadow Neil and frustrate the shit out of him. He is bound to take a penalty.

  • Problem is Bickel, Eminger, and Woywitka are poor skaters. While Eminger may be the best of the 3, he still isn’t very good. I don’t think Eminger would fare much better than Bickel out there for this game 7.

    I agree that Bickel or any guy who plays his spot needs more minutes, but with a game 7 coming up Mcdonagh-Girardi will be playing a ton of minutes and maybe even around 30 depending on how it goes.

    If there is a next series the 6th defenseman role needs to change but for this game I don’t think it matters.

  • It is a shame because Stu has played well for us this season, and he stood up for the players when called upon.

    Is it me, or am I imagining it, but when the games went into OT, the defense look like they were sucking air. They looked dead tired, and if that is the case, Torts is to blame. Look, Stu could be out there against their 4th line, give a break to the other five guys. Well, maybe Torts has a hiar up his butt, and is taking it out on Stu!!!!

    Lets just win tomorrow night, and all will be forgiven. Stu gets back in the next round.

  • Theres another use for Bick here…..he could always pull a Carkner. Pummel someone and force a third man in ( take out Spezza and Neil as a third man in)misconduct. That would certainly justify his two minutes/game loss of ice. Unfortunately, the Rangers and Bickel are NOT going to do this because they have CLASS – unlike the Senators.

    • Great point, and idea as well!!!!!

      No, Torts won’t go for it because the next team, in round two may pull that crap on us. No need to stoop down to the curb, like the trash that Neil, Carkner, and the entire Sens team is.

      • I gotta say, I am a bit surprised that Maclean has really allowed his guys to play that dirty. Didn’t think he was that kind of coach, but I guess he is.

  • I don’t think this is a reflection on Bickel at all. It’s the amount of power play/short handed time + the fact Torts always shortens his bench in the third period. Any other 6th D would be in his position.

  • Stu wil be there when needed. Its not on him that he isnt playing. The other guys are just that dam good…

  • Stu will be on the ice when needed. The time he has played, he’s played well. He saved the shutout for Hank the other night. He is available for his “willingness”. Tort’s will use him when needed. Personally I would like him to wipe the ice up with Niel 🙂

  • No where else to post this yet… But no surprise Lunquist, Quick, and Rinne for Vezina… this is Henrik’s year… but Quick has a solid case for him

  • Quick is a North American. He will win the Vezina hands down.Too bad That Lundqvist will be up against a click who is partial to North Americans especially Canadians.

  • Bickel is a victim of Tortorella’s weakness as a coach which is to use players to their max strengths while hiding their weaknesses,

    Bickel by barely playing is struggling to get into the flow of the game so when he does get that odd shift, he winds up making mistakes that rationalizes Tortorella’s lack of confidence in him.

    I can understand not using him late in the games but why bother dressing at all if yoou won’t use him?

    • What coach worth his salt doesn’t have a strategy that plays to the team’s strength and away from their weaknesses? That makes zero sense.

      Torts has to dress Bickel because he has no other options. Scott can’t be trusted and Eminger isn’t a better option.

      I’d much rather see the other 5 defenders get additional minutes in critical games such as these than see the alternatives out there.

  • Yeah there is a reason to keep Stu in the line up. 1) he is getting some minutes in and 2) He is there if need be for the rough stuff. He is getting valuable experience for next year as part of the team. I believe he will be resigned by the Rangers. He doesn’t hurt the team.

    • I think if Stu went to Boyle’s skating instructor he would be an a really good player. Maybe get to the level of Michael Sauer. What a defense that would be…

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