If Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville is looking for volunteers to fill the void left by Michal Rozsival’s season-ending injury, veteran Kimmo Timonen is raising his hand.
“That’s out of my hands — but if that brings me anything more, I’m ready to take it. I’ll happily take it,” said Timonen, who is averaging just 9:25 of ice time in the playoffs.
“It’s tough to see a guy go down like that. It was a tough injury. I feel bad for him. He was playing well. But that’s part of the game. Injuries happen [and] everybody else has to pick it up and do their job.”
Rozsival’s 2015 playoff ended abruptly and painfully when he suffered a broken ankle in Game 4 against the Minnesota Wild. David Rundblad will take Rozsival’s roster spot. The top four of Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Brent Seabrook and Johnny Oduya figure to pitch in with more ice time.
And then there’s Kimmo Timonen. The 40-year-old veteran had not played this season when the Hawks acquired him in a Feb. 27 trade with the Philadelphia Flyers. The question of how much he had left once he re-acclimated himself to game-speed hockey is being answered by Quennville —Timonen’s playoff minutes in games decided in regulation have diminished from 10:50 in Game 2 vs. Nashville to 5:44 in Game 3 before Rozsival’s injury.
“I’m not a young guy anymore — I’m 40 years old,” Timonen said. “There’s a long period of times when you’re on the bench and then you have to go. It takes a lot of mental toughness to stay in the game. It’s not easy. I’m trying to do my job and not make any mistakes and help the team any way I can.”
It would add a storybook chapter to Timonen’s quest for a Stanley Cup championship after 17 seasons in the NHL — the grizzled veteran reaching deep down for a dose of rejuvenation that helps the Hawks to a championship. Then again, those are called “storybook” events for a reason. It doesn’t sound like more time for Timonen is Plan A at this point.
“We’ll see,” Quenneville said. “The play and the score and [Rundblad’s] play and how the other guys are managing their minutes [will be a factor]. It’ll all sort itself out.”
Quenneville has managed Timonen’s minutes well so far. Timonen is a plus-3 in his limited playing time and has not been on the ice for any of the 28 goals the Hawks have allowed in 10 playoff games. Like any player, Timonen feels he has more to give. But he knows it’s not his decision.
“I’m probably in the past shape I’ve been in years. I feel great,” Timonen said. “I feel good on the ice. But that’s the role I have and I have to accept it. I take whatever [ice time] I get.
“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.
“If I get more, I get more. If I don’t, I don’t. 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. We’re going to the conference finals. The team is playing well. I’m really happy to be part of a winning team.”