Author: Mike Halford

Chicago Blackhawks v Philadelphia Flyers

More minutes? Timonen will ‘take whatever I get’ after Rozsival injury


Though he’s largely been a non-factor for Chicago this postseason — averaging just 9:25 TOI per night — Kimmo Timonen says he’s more than ready for an increased workload now that Michal Rozsival is done for the playoffs with a fractured ankle.

“If I get more, I get more. If I don’t, I don’t,” Timonen said, per the Sun-Times. “That’s my role and I’m happy to do it. If it’s seven, eight, 12 minutes — that’s more than I was supposed to play this year anyway.

“I’ll take whatever I get.”

Expect defense to be a major story in the Western Conference Final — specifically, the contrasts between Anaheim and Chicago. The Ducks are feeling great about the health and depth; they’re young, they’re fresh, Hampus Lindholm is emerging as a potential star and, should injury hit, the club is more than capable of dealing — trade deadline pickups James Wisniewski and Korbinian Holzer are sitting as healthy scratches, as are veteran Mark Fistric and youngster Josh Manson.

It’s a far different story in Chicago.

Head coach Joel Quenneville has relied heavily on his top four of Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Johnny Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson. Rozsival was often scrutinized by fans and media, but played an integral role as the No. 5 guy and will now likely be replaced by David Rundblad. The 24-year-old Swede did play a fair bit during the regular season but, as Brough pointed out, received protected minutes and started just 20.6 percent of his shifts in the defensive zone.

Which brings the conversation back to Timonen.

There’s an obvious opportunity here for him to see more ice, given almost all of Rozsival’s minutes were at even strength. The 40-year-old insists he’s feeling great and fit enough to be a factor in the Anaheim series, which might be a necessity given how effectively the Ducks rolled their forwards through the first two playoff rounds.

“I’m probably in the past shape I’ve been in years. I feel great,” Timonen said. “Once I get out there I do my job as well as I can. But it hasn’t been easy. It’s a role I’ve never been through before. It takes a little time to get used to it. It’s a lot of mental thinking.

“Every player wants to play more. When you play more you usually play better.”

Related: Rozsival injury puts Chicago blue line that much more under the microscope

‘There’s nobody that wants to fight Jamie Benn,’ says Stars GM

Francois Beauchemin, Jamie Benn

There’s been plenty of praise for Jamie Benn recently. After capturing the NHL’s scoring title with a final-night flurry — on what was later acknowledged to be a serious hip injury — then earning a nomination for the Ted Lindsay Award, it seems people can’t say enough about good things the Dallas captain.

Like his boss, for example.

“There’s nobody that wants to fight Jamie Benn,” Stars GM Jim Nill said, per the Dallas Morning-News. “I’ve seen it in so many buildings.

“The game gets a little bit rough, he kind of looks at somebody and the fire is put out.”

Benn, 25, is a pretty tough customer. He’s listed at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, racked up a team-high 120 hits this season and, over his six-year NHL career, has fought 14 times, which includes couple of memorable scraps.

Like this one, against Francois Beauchemin:

And another, perhaps most famously, against Joe Thornton:

The toughness factor has played a big role in Benn’s quick ascension to star status. Over the last two years, he’s accomplished an awful lot — won an Olympic gold and Art Ross, became team captain, helped Dallas snap a five-year playoff drought — yet never strayed from the gritty, sandpaper stuff.

“It’s amazing what he’s done just in the two years that I’ve been there,” Nill explained. “And what is he — 25? He’s not even in his prime yet.

“And he’s laying in bed right now with two hip surgeries. He played the whole year injured. People don’t understand that. It’s an amazing what he’s done. The encouraging part is where he’s headed. You know he’s going to get even better.”

Related: Stars’ Benn undergoes second hip surgery

Canucks’ pending UFA Richardson to undergo ankle surgery

Vancouver Canucks v Calgary Flames - Game Six

Veteran Vancouver forward Brad Richardson will undergo ankle surgery today to repair an injury that hobbled him throughout the latter half of the season, per News 1130.

Richardson, 30, appeared in just 45 regular season contests but did return to play in five of Vancouver’s six games in an opening-round playoff loss to Calgary. The ankle injury was a tough development for both the Canucks and Richardson; Vancouver lost the services of one of its better penalty killers and versatile forwards, and Richardson got sidetracked in what was shaping up to be his best-ever offensive season.

The former Avalanche and King scored eight goals and 21 points in 45 games this year, good for a career-high 0.47 points-per-game average (over 82 games, that works out to nearly 40 points.) That production came on the heels of a pretty successful 2013-14 campaign, in which Richardson scored 11 goals and averaged a career-high 14:54 TOI per night.

Richardson just wrapped the last of a two-year, $2.3 million deal with the Canucks and will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1.  Recently, he told The Province he’d like to re-sign in Vancouver.