Blackhawks

Blackhawks: Kimmo Timonen hoping for another chance

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Blackhawks: Kimmo Timonen hoping for another chance

TAMPA, Fla. — Kimmo Timonen’s trip to the Stanley Cup Final is a bittersweet one.

This is why he came back to the game, why he worked so hard to overcome blood-clot issues last summer and play once more for a shot at the Cup. But as of now, the Blackhawks defenseman is not playing. He was a healthy scratch in the last two games against the Anaheim Ducks and looks to be the same when the Blackhawks face the Tampa Bay Lighting in Game 1 on Wednesday night.

As disappointed as he is, Timonen said he puts the emotions aside and waits for a chance to play again.

[MORE: Blackhawks: Toews blown away by high compliment from Yzerman]

“To be honest, it’s been a long process to get to this point,” Timonen said. “Am I frustrated? Kind of surprised? Mad? Yeah. But this is not about me. This is about the team and winning the Stanley Cup and I’m going to do everything I can to help this team moving forward.”

Timonen played limited minutes in his 19 regular-season games with the Blackhawks. That didn’t change in the postseason despite Michal Rozsival going down with a fractured left ankle. Coach Joel Quenneville, as expected, leaned heavily on his top-four defensemen. Timonen’s highest ice time came in the Blackhawks’ triple-overtime Game 2 victory over Anaheim, and even that was just 16 minutes, 45 seconds; his lowest was 5:15 in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final. Perhaps age and last summer’s health issues caught up with the 40-year-old Timonen, but his play, and lack of it, was frustrating.

“I knew coming in, these four are going to play a lot and they’ve been playing really well. I was hoping to play better but it just didn’t happen. I was hoping to be 10 years younger but that didn’t happen, either,” Timonen said with a laugh. “I don’t want to look back. Maybe when the season’s over I’ll talk more about it but right now I’m focused on this team and helping any way I can.”

[RELATED: Brad Richards ready to make new Cup memories with Blackhawks]

Timonen’s trip to the Cup hasn’t turned out exactly as he planned it. He’s here, but he’s not playing and he struggled when he did. Still, the defenseman will prepare as he always does and if he gets the call again, he’ll be ready.

“I could show up and be mad, be whiny and that kind of thing, but I won’t do that,” he said. “Would I like to be playing? Sure. Anyone would say that. I just want to stay positive, stay loose and if I get back into the lineup, I’m happy to do that.”

BRIEFLY

  • Trevor van Riemsdyk practiced with the Blackhawks on Tuesday but, based on defensive pairings in drills, it doesn’t look like he’ll play in Game 1 on Wednesday night. The top three pairs were the same on Tuesday as they were Games 6 and 7 against Anaheim: Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson, Kyle Cumiskey-Brent Seabrook and Johnny Oduya-David Rundblad.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Get your Western Conference Champs gear here]

  • Cumiskey was nervous when he made his 2015 postseason debut in the Western Conference Final. But that experience, he said, if he ends up playing against the Lightning. “I’m definitely glad I got to play the series before,” he said. “I’m sure I’ll be nervous when I first step on the ice but hopefully I’ll calm down.”

  • Crawford got a big smile on his face when talking about Tampa Bay goaltending coach Frantz Jean, who guided Crawford when the Blackhawks goaltender played with the Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL). “Frantz was great in Moncton,” Crawford said. “It was a stepping stone for me as a goalie and as a person, going into pro hockey. I spent a few great years with him. I really learned a lot and I’m happy to see him here and be playing against him.”

Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals

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AP

Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals

Four fans at the United Center were thrown out of Saturday's Blackhawks game for taunting Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly with racist remarks.

Midway through the third period, Smith-Pelly, who is black, was in the penalty box when fans shouted "basketball, basketball, basketball" at him, the Washington Post reported.

Here is a GIF of Smith-Pelly's interaction with the fans:

After the game, the Blackhawks released this statement:

Capitals head coach Barry Trotz also had this to say about the incident:

Cue Chelsea Dagger: Blackhawks blow out Capitals to snap eight-game losing streak

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USA TODAY

Cue Chelsea Dagger: Blackhawks blow out Capitals to snap eight-game losing streak

Win one game.

That was Joel Quenneville’s message during the Blackhawks’ eight-game losing streak, which finally came to an end on Saturday night.

How about a 7-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on home ice for a streak-breaker? Now that’s more like it.

Prior to Saturday, the Blackhawks hadn’t recorded a win in February — or a win at the United Center since Jan. 12. 

Though the Blackhawks will likely miss the playoffs for the first time since Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were rookies, a blowout win over the leaders of the Metropolitan Division Capitals had to have felt great.

"It’s a nice way to get over the hump," Toews said. "Sometimes you might just win a 2-1 game or just kind of grind it out, but it was nice for us to fill the net the way we did tonight."

Added Joel Quenneville, "Certainly feels 100 times better than coming in and trying to explain how we had a lead and were unable to sustain it. The complete 60 minutes, three periods the right way, more consistency in our game, way more pace than we’ve seen recently, composure with the puck, shooting around the net. It was fun but that’s one. Let’s see how we respond to this because there’s a lot of hockey left."

The Blackhawks are 25-26-8 with 58 points, and are 11 points out the final wild card spot, currently held by the Minnesota Wild.

Among the highlights:

— Seven different Blackhawks scored: Toews, Kane, Alex DeBrincat, Brandon Saad, Artem Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz, Ryan Hartman

— The Blackhawks are 74-6-4 in the regular season in which Kane and Toews both record a goal — and 41-0-0 in their last 41 games, according to NBC Sports Chicago stats guru Chris Kamka.

— Kane registered career assist No. 500, becoming the sixth Blackhawk with 500 or more. Kane is also the seventh U.S.-born player with 300-plus goals and 500-plus assists, joining Mike Modano, Keith Tkachuk, Jeremy Roenick, Pat LaFontaine, Joe Mullen and Phil Housley, according to Kamka.

"You think about the amount of great Americans that have played the game, how many players actually play hockey in the United States... Growing up all I wanted to do was play hockey," Kane said. "That means a lot, especially when you talk about American-born players."

— DeBrincat's 22nd goal of the season has him tied for the rookie-lead with Tampa Bay Lightning's Yanni Gourde. DeBrincat and Kane also lead the Blackhawks with 22 goals.