ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Bryan Bickell knows the feeling that some of his Blackhawks teammates are going through this time of year.
As the playoffs have progressed, coach Joel Quenneville is playing hot potato with the players he scratches. In Game 3 against the Wild, defenseman Nick Leddy was scratched for the first time in the last four seasons. He was back in the lineup for Game 4.
On Friday, Kris Versteeg was again scratched for the third time this playoffs with Jeremy Morin getting the call in his place.
Bickell had experience this season being the odd man out, but the key, he said, was not to take it personally.
"It's tough. I've been on that side a couple times, but you take it as a learning experience to look back on what you were doing, what you need to do and why they take you out," Bickell said. "It kind of lights that fire underneath you to be better."
Brandon Bollig has experienced what that's like recently as well. He was a scratch for Game 2 against the Wild but was back in the fold for Games 3 and 4.
"It's obviously tough to deal with mentally, but it is something you have to deal with and you can't let it affect your game in a negative aspect," Bollig said. "You want to use it as motivation and really create that mindset that you're going to stay back in the lineup once you get there."
True grit: The Wild had an extra level of physicality in their lineup in Game 4.
Winger Matt Cooke returned after serving a seven-game suspension for a knee-on-knee hit on the Avalanche's Tyson Barrie.
Cooke has been suspended or fined 10 times by the NHL for illegal actions during his 15 seasons in the league. The veteran said even if his reputation as the dirtiest player in the league is warranted, it's not necessarily a bad thing to have opponents worried about him when he's on the ice.
"It's part of the game," he said. "Obviously, I don't want to see anyone get hurt and neither does anyone else, but you also don't want this to be a figure-skating contest out there. It's something I've tried to pride myself on, especially here over the last three years, that you can play physical without being at risk."
Injury updates: Quenneville was succinct Friday when asked if injured winger Andrew Shaw was skating yet after suffering a lower-body injury in Game 1.
"Hasn't skated yet," Quenneville said.
After sounding optimistic Shaw would return in the immediate aftermath of Game 1, Quenneville has been less rosy on the prospect of Shaw's imminent return, leaving Shaw's status for this series in doubt.
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