After notching upsets over the third-seeded Washington Capitals
in the opening round and the top-seeded Montreal Canadiens
in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Philadelphia Flyers
now will endure a best-of-seven series against Pittsburgh without the services of All-Star defenseman Kimmo Timonen
The Flyers learned Thursday night that Timonen will be sidelined indefinitely with a blood clot in his left foot. In 12 playoff games, Timonen not only chipped in with six assists, 34 blocked shots and a plus-5 rating, but also played a large part in containing Washington’s Alex Ovechkin
and Montreal’s Alex Kovalev
in previous rounds. He was also a calming presence to defense partner Braydon Coburn
. He likely would have played opposite Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin
The Flyers begin the Eastern Conference Final against the Penguins tonight at Mellon Arena (7:30 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS). Timonen was hit with a shot by Montreal’s Andrei Markov
late in Game 4 of the Flyers’ semifinal-round series with the Canadiens. Despite playing through the pain in Game 5, he felt numbness in the foot throughout the week. Timonen will go on blood thinners, but his return for the series against Pittsburgh is doubtful. He suffered a similar injury to the same ankle five years ago while playing for Nashville and developed a clot as well.
Said Timonen via a conference call: "It’s a huge disappointment. I wasn’t expecting this result. It’s the most disappointing thing in my life, hockey-wise. It’s been getting sorer and sorer every day. We thought we’d get it checked out because it did not get better and they found a blood clot. This has been an awful day for me.
"I asked the doctor what was the worst-case scenario. He said, `If you get hit there again, the blood clot might break up and go down to your toes and we’d have to cut off your toes.’ That’s not a very good scenario.’’
According to Flyers coach John Stevens
, veteran Jaroslav Modry
likely will fill Timonen's spot since he has far more experience. Rookie Ryan Parent
, who totaled just over 13 minutes in a first-round Game 1 loss to Washington on April 11, also might see time.
– Sidney Crosby
, who is the youngest captain in the history of the Pittsburgh Penguins
, is being compared to a young Steve Yzerman
in his heyday with the Detroit Red Wings
. Yzerman was the youngest captain in Detroit’s history and held that role for 20 seasons.
While he is flattered, Crosby admits he still has a lot to learn.
"I think each year you play, you try to improve everything,’’ Crosby said. "You realize how important every detail of the game is and what a difference it makes when you’re playing. It might not always show up on the score sheet, but those are little things that help your team win and are important to show and lead by example with.’’
Yzerman, now in his second season as Vice President of the Red Wings, played 22 years with the Red Wings. In 1,514 games, he scored 692 goals (eighth all-time) and dished out 1,063 assists (seventh all-time). His 1,755 career points rank sixth all-time.
Biron impressed with Fleury
– Philadelphia Flyers
goalie Martin Biron
, who is 8-4 with a 2.72 goals-against average and .914 save percentage in 12 playoff starts this spring, has been very impressed with the performance of his Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury
"There are only a few guys in this League that have perfected the butterfly position, and Marc-Andre is one of them,’’ Biron said. "He’s so flat, so square and so wide to the shooter. He’s also flexible, quick and comes across the net very well. He and (Mathieu) Garon of Edmonton have an amazing butterfly and great glove hands.’’
Fleury is 8-1 with 1.76 GAA and .938 save percentage for the Penguins this postseason.
"The way (Fleury’s) been playing the last two months of the season is the way he was playing as a youngster on the junior level in the American Hockey League,’’ Biron said. "And that’s where a goalie needs to be at this point in the season. Once he gets into a rhythm, it’s tough to beat him.’’
– The familiarity between players and Pittsburgh Penguins
coach Michel Therrien
has played a huge part in the team’s success this season.
"We’ve got a lot of young players and we’re growing together,’’ Therrien said. "I’ve spent some time with a lot of the young guys in the American Hockey League so it gave me a chance to know them really well. Some still need a tap on the back and this is the only way they will get better and be on the top of their game. There are some guys that I spent almost three years with and others who didn’t have to spend that much time in the minors. But you start to know your players and begin to realize what it will take for them to be successful. Each player is different from one to the other, but the bottom line is that knowing your player is a big plus for any coach.’’
Battle of Pennsylvania
– Therrien and Flyers coach John Stevens
are armed and ready for the first playoff meeting between the teams since the conference semifinals in 2000.
The Flyers and Penguins have played three times in the playoffs, with the Flyers winning all three series.
"When I was coach of Wilkes-Barre (in the American Hockey League) and John Stevens
was with the Phantoms, we had our battles there, as well,’’ Therrien said. "They’ve had some good teams and we’ve had good teams when we were in the minors and this year is no different on the bigger stage. We know what we’re talking about when we facing each other because we’ve been there. For me, like I said, it’s been five years, so I’m involved emotionally. Certainly, it should be a really good and fun series to be part of.’’
"The buildings (in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh) are so intense,’’ he admitted. "The fan support is just terrific and it tends to ratchet up even more each step you go. We want to be aggressive and play with urgency and intensity. But if we’re undisciplined, we’re just neutralizing ourselves. That’s certainly something we can’t afford to do.’’
Contact Mike Morreale at email@example.com.