News, notes and quotes as the Stanley Cup Final resumes with Game 4 tonight in Chicago [8 p.m., NBCSN], where the Blackhawks will try to even the best-of-seven series. The Tampa Bay Lightning hold a 2-1 series edge:
Timonen returns: About a year ago, 40-year-old defenseman Kimmo Timonen was lying in a hospital bed in Finland with blood clots in his left leg and both lungs, asking doctors if he could ever play professional hockey again.
“They said, ‘Well, you have to eat this medicine for six months, then you have a small chance to get back on the ice,’” Timonen told reporters back on Feb. 28, after the Chicago Blackhawks acquired him from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for a second-round pick in 2015 and a conditional fourh-round pick in 2016.
“So in that moment, I decided if that small chance happens the only thing I'm missing from hockey career is a Stanley Cup. That was the only goal which I would return to hockey. It wasn't money. It wasn't anything else that was missing.”
Tonight, Timonen is expected to get the chance to play in a Stanley Cup Final for the second time in his 15-year NHL career. [He also played for the Flyers against the Hawks in the 2010 Final]. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said he’s also likely to play defenseman Johnny Oduya and rookie Trevor van Riemsdyk when the two teams face off at United Center.
Timonen has been a healthy scratch the past five games and has played a limited role in the playoffs, averaging 9:25 of ice time. He could be matched with Brent Seabrook on a second defense pairing.
“He gives us some predictability, coverage in the [defensive] zone, strength in the puck area,” Quenneville said of Timonen. “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.”
Timonen, who began his NHL career under Capitals coach Barry Trotz when both were in Nashville, said he’s embracing the opportunity.
“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.”
Kris Versteeg is also expected to return to the lineup, playing left wing on a second line with Brad Richards and Patrick Kane. Bryan Bickell is expected to come out of the lineup.
What about Bishop? The Lightning are keeping quiet about the availability of goaltender Ben Bishop, who labored through a 36-save victory in Game 3. Lightning coach Job Cooper said the team is in a “holding pattern” with Bishop, who 13-9 in the playoffs with a 1.19 GAA and three shutouts.
Did you know? Former NBA star Charles Barkley, who earlier in the post-season said he was rooting for Alex Ovechkin to finally win a Stanley Cup, has adopted the Lightning as his favorite NHL team still playing. The reason? He met Lightning coach Jon Cooper earlier this season and the two hit it off.
Stat of the day: Under Joel Quenneville the Blackhawks are 30-30 in Games 1 through 3 of a playoff series and 40-14 in Games 4 through 7.