Blackhawks updates: Timonen, Versteeg in for Game 4


Blackhawks updates: Timonen, Versteeg in for Game 4

Kimmo Timonen has been on the outside looking in for the last several playoff games. Wednesday night, he’s back in.

Timonen will play and Johnny Oduya is “likely” to play, according to Joel Quenneville, when the Blackhawks host the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. The move was a bit of a surprise – Timonen has been a healthy scratch since midway through the Western Conference Final. But the Blackhawks have been trying to shore up their fifth and sixth defensemen spots for some time now. Trevor van Riemsdyk is also expected to play Wednesday night.

“He gives us some predictability, coverage in the [defensive] zone, strength in the puck area,” Quenneville said. “He’s smart, experienced; he did a good job throughout the playoffs. This gives him a chance to get in in a big moment. His reads and positional awareness and coverage in his own end will help him.”

[RELATED - Blackhawks' confidence grows as series progresses]

Timonen talked about the frustration of not playing at media day last week. Wednesday morning, he wasn’t revisiting that – “I’m living in the moment. The past is the past.

“I just try to play my own game, play smart. I don’t want to make mistakes, cost the team goals,” Timonen said. “The only thing I can say is I’ll enjoy the moment. There aren’t many moments I’ll get like this. This is my moment.”

Meanwhile, Kris Versteeg is back in, taking the left-wing spot on the second line with Brad Richards and Patrick Kane. Bryan Bickell, who played in Game 3, is out. Bickell struggled with vertigo coming off Game 7 of the Western Conference final and was a late scratch in Game 1 of the Cup final.

“It’s frustrating but they switch the lineup for a reason, to get a spark from somebody or some line,” Bickell said. “It’s disappointing. I’ve been off for a week, play one game [and] I thought it went pretty well. But there are still more games to go. I just have to make a big impact when I get back in.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans]

As for Tampa Bay, coach Jon Cooper said the Lightning are in the same “holding pattern” regarding Ben Bishop. The goaltender was a question mark heading into Game 3, as he looked to be fighting an injury. But he got the victory, stopping 36 of 38 shots.

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


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


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.