When he went to see Dr. Ronald Fairman at the University of Pennsylvania hospital on Thursday, the Flyers’ defenseman was already resigned to the fact that the blood clot in his left foot would keep him out of action for at least the rest of the Eastern Conference Final series with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Now, he is back on the ice, and could return for Sunday’s Game 5 at Mellon Arena (3:00 p.m., NBC). Timonen skated by himself and spoke with the media afterwards on Friday at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone
“I went to the hospital yesterday, [and] I didn't know what to expect. I didn't expect this news,” he said. “So, obviously, this is a good chance for me to play, and I wanted to make sure, and I'm sure everyone else wanted to make sure, that there is absolutely no danger at all.
“Like I said before the series started, it's my dream to be able to play in this kind of situation, and now I'm back in it so it is a pretty good feeling.”
Timonen was originally told that should the blood clot break up, he could possibly face losing his toes. As it stands right now that danger is gone, but he will still have to play through some significant discomfort.
“It takes only 15 minutes to skate, and I can't feel my toes,” he said. “That is the biggest thing. When that happens, the pain comes in. But I'm sure we've got some medicine for pain (laughing).
“I'm going to practice [Saturday], and I'll let you know after practice how it goes. But the pain and the numbness is still what we're dealing with here.”
"It's my dream to be able to play in this kind of situation, and now I'm back in it so it is a pretty good feeling.” - Kimmo Timonen
John Stevens would obviously welcome his top defenseman back to the lineup, after the Flyers pulled out a 4-2 victory in Game 4 to keep the series alive. A Game 5 win would bring the series back to Philadelphia.
“He's a huge part of our team. Through this year he's progressed, and in the playoffs he's really taken his game to another level,” said Stevens. “I think just his presence around our team all year; he's got deep respect by all his teammates. He just has composure all the time. I think that's infectious on our team.”
Another player who would love to see number 44 back on the ice is his goaltender, Martin Biron.
“Kimmo is one of the best puck moving defensemen in the league,” said Biron, who has nine wins in his first career playoff run as a starting goaltender. “He's even better on the ice when you don't notice him because he does the little things right all the time. He makes guys think twice. It's no secret he's an All Star.
“There's guys around the league that have probably never noticed him. But when you play against him or play with him, that's when you appreciate his full value.”
Timonen’s partner in the playoffs, Braydon Coburn
, is also hoping to get back in for Sunday’s game. Coburn left Game 2 after a nasty cut near his left eye when he was struck by a deflected puck and has not played since. Coburn will also skate with the team when it resumes practice on Saturday morning before a flight later that day to Pittsburgh.
“His eye is improving. I think the swelling has gone down to the point where he can see,” said Stevens. “I think the swelling hasn't gone all the way down, but I think he can get to the point where he can see well enough to play.
“It's just a matter of getting back on the ice. He's going to have to wear a visor now. He rode the bike today for a little bit just to keep his legs going. We're hopeful we can get him on the ice tomorrow in practice, and see how he does. That will be the tell tale sign for us.”
Stevens was forced to shuffle his lineup with Timonen and Coburn out, and was impressed with the way the defense corps held up in the absence of two key components. Among those players that held their own was rookie Ryan Parent, who played a particularly strong game on Thursday night.
“He's been impressive for a young player coming in this situation,” said Stevens. “Pittsburgh is arguably the best team the East. They've been the hottest team in the playoffs. He's coming in, in an intense environment with our season on the line, and played very well for us.”
Biron also lavished some praise on the young blueliner they call “Bernie,” in honor of his last name (although it is pronounced differently than the legendary Flyers goaltender).
“I was just watching some video clips this morning, one on ones against some of the best players in the league, really holding his ground,” said Biron. “Really playing with confidence, and making the simple play. But, you know, making great passes at times.
“He hasn't played a lot in the last two months, but he's definitely responded well. And him and Jason [Smith] have played well together. They seem to have fed off one another. He’s been a lot of help to us.”