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.”
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.