Kimmo is a No Go
Paul Holmgren announced today that Kimmo Timonen will be sidelined indefinitely due to a blood clot in his foot. Timonen was placed on blood thinners and is not expected to return during the Flyers-Penguins series.
Unquestionably Timonen has been the Flyers best defenseman during the 2008 Stanley Cup playoffs. From his role as a key member of the five-man shutdown unit implemented against Alexander Ovechkin to his quiet, flawless efforts throughout the Montreal series, Timonen is the true unsung hero of the team. He stands behind the goaltending genius of Martin Biron, the power play prowess of Danny Briere, and the breakout brilliance of RJ Umberger.
It’s quite possible that the Penguins will exploit Timonen’s absence to their scoring advantage. Without Timonen, who will defend Crosby and/or Malkin? Who’s going to play point on the top power play unit? And who’s going to kill penalties? I’m sure the pundits are predicting this injury skewing the series heavily in Pittsburgh’s favor.
On the other hand, the Flyers may prove some unseen defensive depth. This team has found ways to win when things seemed hopelessly stacked against them time and again. It was not so long ago that the Flyers faced a tough final stretch in the regular season, with the highly skilled Atlantic Division teams ahead and the Washington Capitals, Florida Panthers, and Buffalo Sabres breathing down their necks. Yet they managed to pull out some incredible victories versus the New York Rangers and the New Jersey Devils.
Players who could step forward:
Braydon Coburn – He’s grown tremendously since the preseason, elevating his game and soaring from a second pairing with Derian Hatcher to top line duties with Kimmo Timonen. He played excellent hockey during the first two rounds and may have yet another level within.
Jason Smith – He’s a veteran who has proven his mettle in the playoffs before. Lest you forget, he led the eighth ranked Edmonton Oilers to their unlike Stanley Cup run two years ago. And they weren’t eliminated until the third period of Game 7, despite losing starting netminder Dwayne Roloson.
Derian Hatcher – Big and slow are two words that come to mind. But gritty hits, massive experience, and terrific penalty killing are the other side of that coin. And as the only American to captain a Stanley Cup championship team, Hatcher knows what is required to win.
Randy Jones – At times, Jones can become overexposed in the NHL, making poor choices along the boards and shooting a lot of pucks that get blocked too close to the blueline for comfort. On the other hand, he has a plus-eight rating in the 2008 playoffs. And unlike Smith, Jones is capable of scoring the occasional goal. Should he get his hands on whatever RJ Umberger’s been drinking lately, he could become the story of the playoffs.
Here’s a link to Tim Panaccio’s coverage of Timonen’s injury.