VOORHEES, N.J. -- After a five-game absence, Philadelphia Flyers All-Star defenseman Kimmo Timonen will be back on the ice when his team hosts the New Jersey Devils.
Timonen has been out with a lower-body injury, but told reporters following the Flyers' morning skate that he was "95-percent sure" he was playing.
Timonen wouldn't specify the exact nature of his injury, but said he's hoping his time off will be enough to sustain him through the rest of the season and the playoffs.
"It's one of those things that I don't think it's going to go away, but hopefully this lasts," he said. "We'll see. … We go game-by-game and day-by-day and see how it feels."
Timonen, who had played in 248 consecutive regular-season games prior to sitting out, said he enjoyed the time off.
"Mentally it's been great," he said. "I've played a lot of hockey the last four years. The last 10 days I didn't do much. Mentally it's been really good, and hopefully it carries over to rest of the year and the playoffs."
Now, though, he knows rest time is over, and he's excited to get back into the lineup.
"It's a tough thing, you don't want to miss games," he said. "I played 3 1/2 years not missing any games, so it was tough. I knew it was going to happen (but) I'm excited to be back. Hopefully I can help the team."
The Flyers have been without Timonen, as well as fellow veterans Andrej Meszaros and Pavel Kubina. Rookies Erik Gustafsson and Brandon Manning have done solid jobs filling in, but with the return of one of their injured veteran blueliners -- Meszaros (lower body) and Kubina (upper body) remain out -- the Flyers should be a bit more composed in their back end.
"Kimmo is the same as Prongs (Chris Pronger)," Matt Carle, who was paired with Timonen at Tuesday's practice, told NHL.com. "They've been around so long, you just expect them to be in the right place and make the right plays because they've been doing it so long. No matter how much time they've missed, you expect them to be great. When he's out there he's so sound as a player that you're not going to notice too much of a difference with him whether it's bad or good. He's an even-keeled player like that."
Timonen has 36 points and is tied for third among NHL defensemen with 34 assists, but it's his role off the ice as much on it that the Flyers missed.
"He's looked up to on our team by a lot of guys," Carle said. "He's somebody who's been in the League a long time and somebody who's a leader."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK