|Kimmo Timonen will miss the Eastern Conference Finals due to a blood clot in his foot, but Flyers coach John Stevens refuses to use the absence of the All-Star blueliner as an excuse for the Philadelphia's poor defensive play in Game 1.
was not accepting excuses for the Philadelphia Flyers
’ Game 1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins
in the Eastern Conference Finals, especially when it came to playing without defenseman Kimmo Timonen
“Let's stop there right now,” Stevens said at his postgame press conference when the first question involved Timonen, who is out for the series after developing a blood clot in his foot. “Kimmo's not our lineup. We have six guys that are capable of moving the puck. I thought we had the start we wanted. We had the shots on that. We had the lead. We just didn't manage a puck as a group of five on the ice. Our support got too far away.
“You turn pucks over and give up rushes against (Sidney) Crosby and (Evgeni) Malkin, that's a game you can't play,” the coach said. “You know, we did that. Every time you get an odd-man rush error I call it a stressed attack, it favors them. Those are things we can't do.”
But the loss of an All-Star defenseman like Timonen is a factor, if not for the team, than especially for the player.
“Well, it's been a really hard 24 hours,” said Timonen, who was with the team in Pittsburgh. “Thursday morning I was still ready to go on the road with the boys, and I got the news that I can't play probably in this series. Probably not the rest of the season. So it was awful. I can't even describe the feeling. But, like I said, it's been a really rough 24 hours.”
While certainly disappointed, Timonen left little doubt that he agreed with his coach in believing the Flyers’ other defensemen can succeed against the explosive Penguins.
“We face a lot of adversity throughout the year,” Timonen said. “We lost some key guys for a long period of time. But we were still able to win games. And that tells you what kind of team we have. And I still believe we can get over this for sure. We've got pretty good players that's can come in and play my role, and play well. And I'm really confident that's going to happen.”
Apparently the blood clot developed after Timonen blocked a shot against the Montreal Canadiens in the last series. It is the second time he has sustained a blood clot.
“It is the second time,” Timonen said. “The first (time) I blocked a shot four years ago it was a little different. It was a superficial blood clot. This time, it was in the artery not in the vein. The dangerous thing about this is if I kept playing and the clot breaks loose, it could go to my toes and they have to cut my toes off. So obviously you don't want that to happen. So I met three different doctors yesterday (Thursday), and everybody said they won't let me play. There are too many risks of that to happen, and I've got to respect their opinion.”
No doubt about that.
Timonen got permission from the doctors to go to Pittsburgh and be with the Flyers.
“I still want to be here,” he said. “I talked to John Stevens last night, and he said he would like me to come here and be part of the team. When I got the news that I could fly, it was a no brainer. I want to come here and I want to stay here and I'm flying back Sunday with the team. So I'm going to be as helpful as I can. And if there's something on the power play and five-on-five play, I will be there if they need my advice.”
Timonen’s teammates would rather have his presence than his advice, but vow to soldier on.
“Oh, Kimmo's a big part of the game,” goalie Marty Biron said. “But defensively, I think we played pretty solid. At times, like I said, they made a great play on the first goal. I didn't really like the next two, and then they get a shorthanded bounce that he gets on the breakaway. I think that other than that, we did a good enough job to be able to get the rest of our guys some time to go on the offense. But I've got to come up with a little better game, and it's just what I'm sent out to do.”
“Obviously, they missed him on the power play,” Mike Richards said. “He's the quarterback, they slow things down. He always seems to be in the right spot. I think for the first game, it was, you know, you're used to playing with a guy all year, then all of a sudden he's out of your lineup, it takes a little bit to adjust. … He's a guy that's always in the right place at the right time and makes good plays. So for the first game I don't think we did bad, but we can still play a little bit better.”