Kyle Cumiskey

Timonen to make series debut tonight for ‘Hawks


CHICAGO — Kimmo Timonen will play for the Blackhawks in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.

“He gives us some predictability,” head coach Joel Quennville said of Timonen on Wednesday, confirming the veteran d-man would play tonight. “I think his coverage in the D zone, strength in the puck area. He’s smart, experienced.

“I think he did a good job for us throughout the playoffs. Gives him a chance to get in here in an good moment, a big moment. His reads and his position awareness and coverage in his own end will help him.”

So we know Timonen’s in, but the rest is uncertain. There’s been no firm update on the health of Johnny Oduya, who was injured during Game 3 and played just 9:10 over the final two periods.

If Oduya plays (and per Quenneville, it sounds like he will), it’s probable that Kyle Cumiskey — who, like Timonen, is a left-handed shot — will be the odd man out on defense. Cumiskey took some serious heat for losing Cedric Paquette on the game-deciding goal in Game 3, and finished with just 7:38 TOI.

Should things play out this way, Trevor van Riemsdyk would stay in on defense over David Rundblad for the second straight game.

As for the 40-year-old Timonen, he’s set to make his series debut and will play for the first time since Game 5 of the Western Conference Final against the Ducks — which was 16 days ago. That contest, a 5-4 Anaheim win in overtime, was one of Timonen’s roughest outings in what’s been a forgettable playoff; the veteran Finn was minus-2 in just 8:06 of ice time, and received just three shifts in the third period and OT.

“Coaches make the decisions, they put the best lineup on the ice and that’s it,” Timonen explained. “I’m just the one piece of the team here.

“I decided I’m going to work hard at the practice and stay positive and make sure if that chance comes I’m ready to go, and it looks like it’s here.

Quenneville believes Oduya will be ‘all right’ for Game 4


CHICAGO — Sounds like Chicago’s blueline won’t be even further thinned out at the Stanley Cup Final.

The day after a 3-2 defeat to Tampa Bay in Game 3, Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville said that injured defenseman Johnny Oduya — who played just 9:10 over the final two periods last night — looked to be OK and could be ready to go for Wednesday’s Game 4.

“I think he’ll be all right,” Quenneville said on Tuesday. “He looked all right today. We’ll see how he is tomorrow.”

The ‘Hawks can ill-afford to lose Oduya’s services. He’s averaging over 24 minutes a night as one of Chicago’s much talked-about top-four defensemen and, if he’s out, the club would suddenly then have to promote one of Kyle Cumiskey, Trevor van Riemsdyk, David Rundblad or Kimmo Timonen into a more prominent role — which could prove problematic given all four have their, ahem, limitations.

Not much is known on the severity of Oduya’s injury. It’s of the upper-body variety, and was believed to have occurred on a second-period hit from Tampa Bay forward Ondrej Palat.

The Victor: Hedman sets up Paquette’s goal (Video)


If you want a contrast between defensemen Victor Hedman and Kyle Cumiskey, merely watch the goal that put the Tampa Bay Lightning up 3-2 against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 3.

Hedman generated his second beautiful (and primary) assist of the night setting up this tally by Cedric Paquette, while Cumiskey was exposed on a rare shift:

Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook rightfully get a lot of attention, yet the way the 2015 Stanley Cup Final is going, Hedman might just become a mainstream star. (He’s already a star to many, after all.)

Video: ‘Pests’ Paquette and Shaw trade goals

Heading into Game 2, Jonathan Toews noted that Cedric Paquette has big shoes to fill compared to the pesky ways of Ryan Kesler. The Tampa Bay Lightning would likely be satisfied if he scores some points.

That happened early on Saturday, as Paquette paid of a stream of Lightning chances with this 1-0 goal:

The Lightning came into the 2015 Stanley Cup Final undefeated when they scored first in the postseason, yet they lost Game 1. Can they hold off the Chicago Blackhawks this time around?

One thing’s clear: the pace of Game 2’s first period is right up there with Game 1’s hectic opening frame.

Oh yeah, and Jonathan Drouin is definitely making his presence felt. Speaking of presences, could we see Kyle Cumiskey as a scratch after that 1-0 goal?

Update: So far, it’s a night for pests, as Andrew Shaw sent home a rebound to make it 1-1. Tampa Bay’s lead did not last very long.

Also, this:

‘Very good chance’ that van Riemsdyk plays in Stanley Cup Final


TAMPA — Tonight in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, the Chicago Blackhawks will go with the same six defensemen they’ve used since David Rundblad replaced Kimmo Timonen for Game 6 of the Western Conference Final.

But don’t dismiss the chances of rookie Trevor van Riemsdyk making an appearance at some point in the series.

“Not playing today, but he’s real close,” said coach Joel Quenneville. “He’s sitting there. He’s that close. We expect a very good chance he’s going to be in the series.”

Barring an injury to one of the Blackhawks’ top-four defensemen, van Riemsdyk would most likely replace Rundblad or Kyle Cumiskey, depending how those two perform against the Lightning. A right shot, he may be more likely to replace right-shooting Rundblad versus left-shooting Cumiskey.

In Game 7 against the Ducks, Rundblad logged just 5:35 of ice time, while Cumiskey played slightly more, at 8:31.

Quenneville talked glowingly today about van Riemsdyk, the 23-year-old who’s still recovering from wrist surgery and hasn’t played for the ‘Hawks since Nov. 16.

“We saw firsthand what he was able to do when he came into training camp. Surprised us all how well he played, how effective and efficient he is,” said Quenneville.

“We’ve been skating him in practice every day. One of his strengths is his reads, positionally aware, decision-making with the puck. He’s got a lot of attributes that can help our team. I think he came onto the scene rather fast for us. I think we have a lot of confidence and trust in him.”

Related: Blackhawks recall van Riemsdyk