|Martin Biron (left) and Derian Hatcher (center) believe the Flyers can deal with the loss of defenseman Kimmo Timonen. (Getty Images) |
(Pittsburgh, PA) – For the Philadelphia Flyers, facing adversity is nothing new this season.
The club got a fresh dose of just that on Thursday afternoon, when it learned that all-star defenseman Kimmo Timonen
would be lost indefinitely and likely for the entire series with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Timonen’s skills and leadership have been evident throughout the Flyers’ impressive playoff run thus far, but they will now have to deal with his loss.
According to Danny Briere
, it’s just another hurdle the club must overcome. He’s confident that it can be done.
“We feel like we've battled through adversity all year long,” said the team’s leading playoff scorer, making his third straight appearance in the conference final. “Yes, Kimmo is a big part of our team, but at the same time we've been faced with those situations before.
“We’ve found ways to pull through, to come together. We believe we can do the same thing.”
Briere scoffed at any suggestions that the Flyers have no chance in the series, even before Game 1 begins. It’s a theme they have heard numerous times this season, only to prove the doubters wrong.
“Start with the ten game losing streak, and everybody thought we were done at that point, that we weren't going to get back up. Going down the stretch, at one point we were ninth or tenth place in our conference. You look in the playoffs, the way we found ways to blow two-goal leads a couple times.
“Once again, people started doubting us and we found ways to come back. So that's what we mean when we're talking about adversity and finding ways to get back up together when people thought we were going to collapse.”
Derian Hatcher, sure to see more ice time in Timonen’s absence, agreed with Briere.
“We have the attitude we can win this series. We had it with [Timonen] and we have it now,” said the veteran defenseman.
“Hockey is one of the true team sports. It's not an individual sport. He will be missed, but, you know, we feel we can get on without him until we have to.”
“Hockey is one of the true team sports. It's not an individual sport. He will be missed, but, you know, we feel we can get on without him until we have to.” - Derian Hatcher, on dealing with the loss of Kimmo Timonen
Martin Biron, excelling in his first playoff run as a starting goaltender, remembered back to his Buffalo teams which were able to battle through injuries of their own.
“Two years ago in Buffalo, we lost four of our top five defensemen in the first two rounds. We ended up playing with three guys that hadn't played a game in the NHL that year for Game 7 against Carolina, and the guys did an incredible job. They really came through. I think the whole team ended up playing better because they were asked to do so.
“This is the same thing here. I think our whole group of six defensemen that are going to play have to play better because we're losing a guy like Kimmo that's been a pillar for us on [defense]. Our forwards are going to do a much better job to help out our defensemen.
“When you're challenging guys like this at this time of the year on this stage, it brings out the best in everybody, and that's what we want to see,” concluded Biron.
John Stevens announced on Friday morning that Jaroslav Modry would be reinserted back into the lineup in Timonen’s absence. On the power play, Randy Jones will see time playing the point position.
Modry last saw action in Game 5 of the first round series with Washington.
“I think our defense has done a great job of playing within themselves,” said Stevens. “I talked to some guys today; Jonesy (Randy Jones), Hatch (Derian Hatcher), Mo (Jaroslav Modry), Smitty (Jason Smith). They're all going to play more.
“I think they're ready to do that. They're excited for the opportunity, and they want to do what they can to help here.”
Like his players, Stevens is confident that his team can continue to play well and earn a berth in the Stanley Cup Finals.
“[It’s] just one of those situations where we've dealt with all year that we just have this ability to pick each other up when something happens,” said the head coach. “I'm fully confident that's what's going to happen here again.”