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Flyers' Timonen getting closer, could debut Saturday

by Adam Kimelman / NHL.com

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen said Monday that he could make his season debut Saturday against the New York Rangers.

Timonen will travel with the Flyers this week to road games at the Carolina Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs but won't play. Instead he'll use the three days of practice to continue rounding into form.

"Tomorrow morning skate, Wednesday good practice and Thursday morning skate," Timonen said. "Those are the next steps -- more practices."

Timonen, who will turn 40 on March 18, has not played since being diagnosed with blood clots in his leg and lungs in August. But he began skating on his own Feb. 6 and has been practicing with the Flyers since Feb. 17.

However, because of the Flyers' schedule, most of his on-ice sessions have been like the one he had Monday, when he was one of four players on the ice.

"I need more guys on the ice and more action going everywhere and that kind of stuff," Timonen said. "Just seeing a lot of guys going different ways. When you do it today, four guys on the ice, you can feel great and find open guys and find open nets. It's different when there's guys coming after you. I don't mean I need somebody to hit me, I know how that feels, I don't need to remember that.

"My eyes need to see more action on the ice. It's hard to simulate that with four guys. I feel like game shape and skating shape I'm in there, but it's more timing, and just to see more guys out there and battling and doing 2-on-2s and 3-on-3s down low. Too bad last week was kind of tough with the games, but this week, tomorrow and especially Wednesday, they're big days for me.

"It's not like I can take two, three exhibition games and work my way into it. I have to be ready when I go in there because it's a tight schedule and tough games. I don't want to go in there if I feel 95 percent. I need to feel 100 percent. And it's not those two games."

Timonen said if things go well this week, Saturday could be his season debut.

"We'll see," he said. "That would be nice. But again we go day-by-day. If guys are playing like this, beating good teams, what's the hurry to get in there? Let the guys play who are playing really well. I'm not pushing myself into the lineup, because guys are playing well. What's an extra couple days there if guys are playing really well? I'm not saying Saturday for sure, but these two games [this week] aren't options. We'll see Saturday how everything feels and where the team is at. That's where my mindset is right now."

The Flyers swept their weekend back-to-back set against the Nashville Predators and Washington Capitals, and have gone 9-2-4 in 15 games to cut their deficit from 13 points to four in the race for the second Eastern Conference wild-card spot into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"It's really good hockey," Timonen said. "Guys beat good two teams, Nashville and Washington. It's always a good sign, guys are ... direction is moving up, not down. This time of year it has to be up. I'm just excited to be here. Hopefully whenever that day comes [to play] I'm looking forward to it."

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