Mar 2, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Kimmo Timonen (44) warms up prior to the first period at the United Center. Chicago won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
The Chicago Blackhawks brought in 39-year-old defensemen Kimmo Timonen to not only give him one last chance at a Stanley Cup, but to help shore up a Blackhawks d-core that has been lacking during this current season.
From injuries to sub-par play, the Blackhawks defense has not been the lock down force that it has been in years past. That was where Timonen came in.
At 39, the former Flyer wasn’t going to come in and skate Duncan Keith type minutes. That’s notwithstanding the fact that Timonen missed most of the current campaign with blood clots in his calves and lungs. It’s a miracle that playing hockey was even on the table.
So it shouldn’t be surprising to see the veteran come in and need an adjustment period back to the NHL level of play. Timonen wasn’t brought to Chicago for a President’s Trophy. The Blackhawks and it’s front office had it’s sights set on getting this roster shaped for postseason play.
Timonen only played 9:21 in the Blackhawks 2-1 victory in Phoenix Thursday night. He has seen a sharp decline in his ice time over the course of his first four games as a member of the Blackhawks.
For a guy who didn’t have a training camp, didn’t play all season, he is being thrown right into game action.
The third d-pairing seems like the settling spot for Timonen when he gets his legs under him and starts playing the level of hockey he’s known to play. Add to this his ability to quarterback a power play, and the Blackhawks can have a dangerous weapon come playoff time.
Getting Duncan Keith back with Brent Seabrook for the playoffs is the number one priority for this defense. If Keith has to babysit Michal Rozsival come the postseason, the Blackhawks will find themselves watching the Stanley Cup Finals on television. Timonen helps fix this problem.
He can essentially force Rozsival to the press box for most of the playoffs, as Timonen can pair with David Rundblad or a returning Trevor van Riemsdyk. Timonen gives the Blackhawks options and having options is something they haven’t had a lot of defensively this season.
Kimmo Timonen isn’t the end-all, be-all piece that is going to put the Blackhawks over the top come the postseason. He is however, a piece that can contribute in an area that has had it’s fair share of problems this season. And for a team struggling on offense as of late, shoring up the defensive end of the ice can only help.