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 Opening Day roster starting to take shape

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Opening Day roster starting to take shape

The Blackhawks' Opening Day roster is starting to take shape.

With the Rockford IceHogs starting training camp on Sunday, the Blackhawks made a large wave of roster cuts over the weekend and trimmed their roster from 51 players to 33.

Let's take a look at the remaining list:

Forwards (17):
— Artem Anisimov
— Alex DeBrincat
— Victor Ejdsell
— Alexandre Fortin
— John Hayden
— Matthew Highmore
— Luke Johnson
— Dominik Kahun
— David Kampf
— Patrick Kane
— Marcus Kruger
— Chris Kunitz
— Andreas Martinsen
— Brandon Saad
— Nick Schmaltz
— Dylan Sikura
— Jonathan Toews

Defensemen (12):
— Adam Boqvist
— Carl Dahlstrom
— Brandon Davidson
— Gustav Forsling
— Erik Gustafsson
— Henri Jokiharju
— Duncan Keith
— Brandon Manning
— Connor Murphy
— Jan Rutta
— Brent Seabrook
— Joni Tuulola

Goaltenders (4):
— Corey Crawford
— Collin Delia
— Anton Forsberg
— Cam Ward

Of those 33, Forsling and Murphy are expected to start the season on injured reserve. It's unclear whether Crawford will be ready by that point too. That means seven more cuts need to be made for the Blackhawks to reach the 23-man limit.

A few things to note: Joel Quenneville reiterated on Sunday that they will not carry eight defensemen, which eliminates a spot on the back end. He also said the hope is to have 22 players rather than 23 — to avoid having three healthy scratches every night — but that will likely depend on who's most deserving of the vacant spots. If three players are deserving of being on, it wouldn't seem fair to cut one simply because they want to stay at 22 even though it would be beneficial to have whoever is sitting out play meaningful minutes in Rockford.

Up front, five guys appear to be battling for one or two spots: Fortin, Highmore, Johnson, Kampf and Kahun. Each of them have made a solid case to stay.

Kahun was promoted to the top line with DeBrincat and Toews during Sunday's practice, indicating they've liked what they've seen from him and are giving him a stronger look at what he can do in a top-six role.

"He's coming off a real good game the other night in Ottawa," Quenneville said of Kahun. "He can play basically all three positions, I thought he played well at center. But I want to see how handles playing up there and playing some top guys. I think he sees plays, makes plays. We'll see how well he complements them."

It's also worth noting there's a clause in Kahun's contract that allows him to return to Europe if he doesn't make the team out of camp, but even if he didn't, he has been one of the standouts from the young crop and it's unlikely the Blackhawks would keep him around strictly because of that. He's earned his way if he's one of the 23 left standing.

At the same time, Johnson has been equally impressive and could be fighting for the 13th or 14th forward spot if the Blackhawks choose to go that direction.

"He’s really improved each year, how he’s trained, how he’s taking care of himself, his quickness in the game," Quenneville said of Johnson, who said he dropped a lot of weight this summer. "Bigger, stronger, faster. He always had a pretty good head for the game but he’s got some bite to his game as well and has made some nice plays. Some physicality, some tight areas. From the faceoff circle, he’s been really effective."

On the back end, Boqvist, Dahlstrom, Davidson, Jokiharju and Tuulola are essentially vying for two spots. At this point, it's hard not to see Jokiharju making it. But Dahlstrom and Davidson have also each done their part so far on making these decisions difficult on the coaching staff.

There also remains the possibility of Boqvist staying on and playing in a few regular-season games — up to nine before burning the first year of his entry-level deal — before getting sent to the OHL's London Knights. Quenneville said there's a "good chance" he plays in each of the remaining three preseason games at the United Center and will re-evaluate then. Boqvist took several shifts with Keith at practice on Sunday, so don't be surprised to see the two of them together during one of the preseason games to see how Boqvist handles playing against top competition and with high-end players.

It's all up for grabs.

In goal, Quenneville has already been on record saying he doesn't plan on carrying three goaltenders, so a decision will have to be made on whether Delia or Forsberg will back up Ward if Crawford isn't ready to go. Forsberg might have the inside track because of experience along with the fact he'd have to clear waivers if he were to be sent to Rockford, but Delia has been sharp and it showed during Friday's preseason game in Ottawa.

"He’s done a real good job," Quenneville said of Delia. "Last year was a good year for him as far as getting stabilized and being a pro and getting a lot of net, and did a really good job of getting [Rockford] in the playoffs. He’s coming off a special game the other night, and he can do some pretty neat things. But [Forsberg] has had a good camp as well. We’ll see how it all plays out. Those things are going to get answered for us either by performance or time.

"We’re in a winning business. Sometimes it’s who’s more deserving. We know with goalies, time is probably beneficial, but at the same time, if a young kid’s ready to go, we don’t want to get in their way."

All of this could get interesting if Crawford is, indeed, cleared to play by Oct. 4. He has yet to practice with the team after skating on his own with goaltending coach Jimmy Waite for a little more than a week now, but Quenneville said Crawford had a "real good day" on Sunday and didn't rule out the possibility of him joining the team this week.

Anton Forsberg to tribute Avicii with new mask

Anton Forsberg to tribute Avicii with new mask

Goaltender masks are often a place for artistic expression and tribute. Blackhawks goalie Anton Forsberg is adding his own touching tribute this season.

The 25-year-old Swedish goalie chose to tribute Avicii with an image of the musician on his goalie mask. Avicii, a fellow Swede, died by suicide in April.

David Gunnarsson, a professional mask artist, did the art for Forsberg's mask and posted it on Instagram.

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Today we have the honor to present Anton Forsberg´s new Blackhawks mask for the coming season😊🥅. Anton knew what he wanted on his new mask, he wanted to pay tribute to the Swedish DJ legend Tim Bergling❤️, a.k.a Avicii, who recently passed away. Just as Anton I am also a big admirer of his music and person and family🙏🏻❤️. It was a huge honor for me to paint and create this painting together with Anton in honor to Avicii´s family, they were also the first to see this painting❤️. The rest of the mask is painted in an old school and clean style, and on the other side of the mask Anton`s best friend pop up and makes him company in the net. @antonforsbeerg @nhlblackhawks @nhl @daveart

A post shared by David Gunnarsson (@daveart) on

According to Tracey Myers of NHL.com, Forsberg asked Avicii's parents for permission before going ahead with it.

"I've always listened to his music and have been a big fan of it," Forsberg said. "For me, there was no hesitation putting him on the mask."

Forsberg wore last season's mask in his preseason debut in Detroit on Thursday so he hasn't shown off the new gear just yet. That may need to wait for the regular season.