coach John Stevens
would like nothing more than to have defensemen Kimmo Timonen
or Braydon Coburn
back in the lineup when his team hits the ice for Game 5 in the Eastern Conference Final at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Timonen hasn't played in the series due to a blood clot in his left foot sustained in Game 4 of the Flyers' conference semifinal series against the Montreal Canadiens
, while Coburn has been out since getting hit in the face by a puck early in Game 2 against the Penguins.
If one or both can't play, Stevens said he has no problem going to battle with the current corps that has gotten the job done in their absence. He's been particularly pleased with 21-year-old rookie Ryan Parent
, who has exhibited poise and smarts alongside partner and team captain Jason Smith
in Games 3 and 4.
"I felt really good, but nervous at times," Parent told NHL.com. "The first game helped me out for the second one, and I felt a lot more comfortable and knew what to expect. Playing with Jason has been huge because he's so calm back there. He kind of settles me down and plays a real simple and solid defensive game. He makes it easier for you on the ice, and he's easy to work with."
There's no question that Parent, who has started three playoff games this spring, including the last two against the Penguins, has proven himself in a big spot. He logged 15:44 of ice time on 23 shifts in Philadelphia's Game 4 victory Thursday night, and even earned an assist on Joffrey Lupul
's goal 8:27 into the first period that opened the scoring.
"That was pretty neat to finally record my first NHL point," Parent admitted. "It's a good feeling when you can contribute like that, especially in a situation like that."
Stevens feels Parent has played well enough to remain with the team if and when Timonen and Coburn return to the lineup.
"Ryan definitely deserves consideration," Stevens said. "I think all of our guys currently in the lineup (on defense) do. Guys that haven't played need to play more. Those are decisions that are difficult to make for a coach because these guys all want to play and they all want to help.
"But there's no question to me that Ryan has been impressive for a young player coming into this situation. Pittsburgh is arguably the best team the East and they've certainly been the hottest team in the playoffs. He's coming into an intense environment with our season on the line and has played very well.''
While Parent has been satisfied with his performance the previous two games, he remains humble -- and hopeful Timonen and Coburn will return to the lineup.
"I'm just going about the same things I've been doing and making sure I'm ready if they need me," he said. "Hopefully we'll be able to get some of those guys back in the lineup. I'm not looking at it the other way, where I'm hoping to make sure I remain in the lineup because I know where I stand and I realize (Timonen and Coburn) would help the team out a lot.
"I'm happy with the way I've played. My biggest mindset was to come in and not hurt the team. I just wanted to help as much as I can and, obviously, the coaches had the confidence to throw me in there. I'll have to wait and see what's in store, but I'm just getting myself ready for the next opportunity."
Timonen skated for 35 minutes Friday morning and will test the ankle again on Saturday before the team leaves for Pittsburgh. Coburn needed more than 50 stitches to close a cut around his left eye, which remains extremely swollen. He was unavailable for comment Friday, but GM Paul Holmgren
said Coburn still was, "Going through some spells and wasn't feeling right."
Flyers goalie Martin Biron
, who admitted teammates affectionately call Parent "Bernie" -- even though the Flyers' goaltending legend pronounces his last name differently -- has played exceptionally well.
"We've talked about Kimmo and Cobie possibly being on the ice and actually playing on Sunday, but I think that, defensively, the guys in there have done a great job," Biron said. "Bernie has played really well. I was just watching some video clips (Friday) morning and was impressed with how he looked 1-on-1 against some of the best players in the League. He was really holding his ground and playing with confidence. He knows to make the simple play and can also make that great pass, as well.
"He's a young guy, but has been around the club a lot this year. Even though he hasn't played a lot over the last two months, he's definitely responded well. Having him paired with Jason (Smith) has worked great. They seem to feed off one another."
Parent knows playing against Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin
and Sidney Crosby
is no easy task, but he has relished the opportunity.
"You can't be standing still since they come at you with a lot of speed," Parent said. "They are both world-class athletes, and they'll take advantage of any opening they see or any guy left alone. You have to make sure you're always moving and that you're on the defensive side of them. You just have to take away as many options as you can to limit them. I think a lot of times they're waiting for you to make the first move and as soon as you do, that's when they strike. The best thing to do is to try to stay with them and take away their timing as best you can."
Contact Mike Morreale at firstname.lastname@example.org.