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Chicago Blackhawks using veteran guile against young Ducks

CHICAGO - When Blackhawks defenseman Kimmo Timonen made his NHL debut in 1998, Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm was 4 years old.

It is part of an intriguing mix of youth and experience in the Western Conference finals as the Blackhawks visit the Ducks today.

The Blackhawks are the oldest and most seasoned team remaining in the NHL playoffs, according to STATS, with an average age as of Friday of 29 years, 205 days among their players with at least one appearance in the 2015 postseason. They also lead the way with 1,706 career playoff games for the same group, compared to 692 for the Ducks.

"We like to think that it's going to help us," Chicago forward Patrick Sharp said, "and it's helped us to this point. A lot of ups and downs throughout the season, but we've seemed to come together at the right time and then play our best hockey.

"Sometimes that youth can help you this time of year. You know they got some fast players, some guys that are playing really well the first or second time through the playoffs. So it's however you want to use it. We like the experience on our side. Hopefully we can use it to our advantage."

The Blackhawks are in the conference finals for the third straight season and fifth time in seven years. They won the Stanley Cup in 2010 and 2013.

Timonen, 40, who was acquired in a February trade with Philadelphia, is the oldest player still in the postseason. He could take on a more prominent role against the Ducks after Michal Rozsival broke his left ankle against Minnesota.

With 97 career postseason appearances, Timonen fits right in with a group that has seen it all.

"I think at the end of the day when you talk about our experience we have in this room, I think that means the most when you get in tough situations," Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said, "whether you're down a couple goals in a game or you might be down a game or two in the series, regardless of the situation that you don't want to be in, we find ways to stay alive and to creep back into the position that we want to be in."

Timonen's situation can also show the downside of experience, with his long career exacting a toll on his legs. The speedy Ducks, who have a fleet of athletic 20-somethings spread throughout their lines and defense, could attack Timonen when he takes the ice.

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