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Flyers vs. Blackhawks preview: It's Kimmo Timonen night as Cup champs make a visit

It's Kimmo Timonen night in Philadelphia as the Flyers host the Blackhawks.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

After a solid shutout win in their home opener on Monday night, the Flyers are back in action on Wednesday with a visit from the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

The game is the main event tonight, but the real focus for a lot of us will be the ceremony to honor Kimmo Timonen before puck drop. Timonen of course won the Cup in his final season last year, traded to the Blackhawks from the Flyers near the March trade deadline.

Timonen may have won the Cup in a red jersey, but he's living back in the Philadelphia area -- in fact, he never really left -- and he's a sure bet to eventually work in the Flyers organization in some capacity. He's called the Flyers "his team." It's sure to be an emotional and awesome ceremony before the game tonight.

Scouting the Blackhawks

As for the game, well ... that's probably going to be a tough one. The Blackhawks are still very very good at hockey despite some offseason moves. They lost Patrick Sharp to a trade with Dallas and Brandon Saad to a trade with Columbus. Also gone are Timonen (obviously), Brad Richards, Johnny Oduya, Antoine Vermette and Kris Versteeg.

This is what the Blackhawks do, though. Their core is still together and firing at all cylinders, and the ancillary pieces? They just plug in new guys without any apparent struggle. It's damn impressive.

Off the ice, their summer has been considerably less impressive. Yes, we're talking about the Patrick Kane situation. It's still an open rape investigation in Erie County, N.Y., and the district attorney has said it will still go one of two ways: charges will be dropped or it'll go to a grand jury. As long as the investigation remains in question, it's going to linger like a dark cloud over the Blackhawks everywhere they go. And it's going to lead to vicious chants from visiting crowds. More importantly, it's going to make many fans cringe at the sight of Kane on the ice. It's ugly all around, and hey ... this is Philly. It's not going to be any different tonight.

Minor changes for Flyers

The Flyers will have one lineup change tonight: Sam Gagner and Wayne Simmonds swap lines, with Simmer playing on a line with Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier while Gagner plays with Matt Read and Scott Laughton. R.J. Umberger remains out with an upper-body injury, while Luke Schenn remains the odd-man out on defense. Vincent Lecavalier also remains scratched.

Charlie O'Connor has more insight on tonight's changes here.

Michal Neuvirth gets the start in goal against Corey Crawford. Steve Mason is back with the team but is on the non-roster list, still out due to personal reasons. He's not talking to the media so we don't really know exactly what's up, but we hope everything is OK with him. In the meantime, Jason Labarbera is still with the team and will likely serve as Neuvirth's backup tonight.

We'll have a scouting report with help from our friends at Second City Hockey later this afternoon. Our game thread will be here at 6 p.m. ET for tonight's 8 p.m. faceoff. It can be seen nationally on NBC Sports Network or through the NBC Live Extra app.

2015-16 NHL Season :: Game 4 of 82
chicago blackhawks logo box
2-1-0, 4 points
4th in Central
1-1-1, 3 points
3rd in Metropolitan
Wednesday, October 14, 2015 :: 8 p.m. ET
Wells Fargo Center :: South Philadelphia, Pa., USA
Get the Chicago perspective at Second City Hockey
How to Watch / Listen In Philly
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Click here for the NBC Sports Live Stream.
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Click here for the NBC Sports Live Stream.
Projected Lineups
Garbutt - Toews - Hossa 1st Line Raffl - Giroux - Voracek
Panarin - Anisimov - Kane 2nd Line B. Schenn - Couturier - Simmonds
Bickell - Teravainen - Tikhonov 3rd Line Read - Laughton - Gagner
Desjardins - Kruger - Shaw 4th Line VandeVelde - Bellemare - White
Keith - Hjalmarsson 1st D Pair Schultz - Streit
Svedberg - Seabrook 2nd D Pair Manning - Del Zotto
Daley - van Riemsdyk 3rd D Pair Medvedev - Gudas
Crawford / Darling Goalies Neuvirth / LaBarbera

Scratches Mason, Umberger, L. Schenn, Lecavalier