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Timonen, Coburn could be ready for Game 5

by Adam Kimelman

The Philadelphia Flyers should have All-Star defenseman Kimmo Timonen back in the lineup for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final against Pittsburgh on Sunday.   Timonen highlights
VOORHEES, N.J. — If the Philadelphia Flyers' win to stay alive in the Eastern Conference Final wasn't enough, they'll get another boost when they get reinforcements to their injury-depleted defense.

Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn skated through Saturday's hour-long practice, and there is a chance at least one, and possibly both, will be in the lineup for Game 5 Sunday in Pittsburgh (3 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS).

"Kimmo looks like he's going to be ready to go," Flyers coach John Stevens said. "Cobie I'm still not sure about. … I think that's something that will probably be a decision that if not made today, it is something we'll make in the morning. I have not heard on Cobie. He had a full practice, looked good. It was a step in the right direction. Kimmo looked great. So looks like we'll get one, for sure."

The potential to have their top defense pairing on the ice together for the first time in the series will be a boost for the Flyers in their quest to slow Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Timonen, who missed the first four games while recovering from a blood clot in his left ankle, said he has received medical clearance to play. While the clot hasn't cleared, doctors have assured Timonen it's safe for him to be on the ice.

"I got to trust the doctor's opinion that there's no risk at all if I play tomorrow," Timonen said. "The symptoms, they won't be gone tomorrow, they're going to be the same, but it felt pretty good today in practice. That's why I'm pretty confident to say I'm ready to go tomorrow."

Timonen was the Flyers' best defenseman this season, and was a key factor in slowing Washington's Alexander Ovechkin and Montreal's Alex Kovalev in the first two rounds of the playoffs. The 33-year-old played nearly 25 minutes a game in the postseason, quarterbacked the power play and was a top penalty killer.

"Kimmo's an elite player in the League," Stevens said. "He's not just a great player, he's one of our leaders. To lose a guy like that, they're not easily replaced. You need a lot extra from everybody in your lineup just to try to close the gap that was left behind when he was out. … Kimmo plays in every situation that there is in the hockey game."

While the Flyers obviously will benefit from having Timonen on the ice, the mood in the dressing room was also lifted by having No. 44 on the ice.

"It was great," forward Mike Knuble said. "Some guys got to play more … but Kimmo was brought to Philadelphia for a reason — for big-game moments. He's a guy that's going to provide them."

Added center Daniel Briere: "It looks like Kimmo is going to play; that's a big boost for us. You get a guy like Kimmo back there, he was our best defenseman this year, it's a huge boost for us."

Stevens said there would be no limitations to how he could use Timonen.

"I think Kimmo's one of the guys like Hatch (Derian Hatcher) — the more they play, the better they play," Stevens said. "He's been able to work a little bit since he's been off. I don't think that will be an issue. He'll continue to play a lot of the situations he has.

"In terms of limiting his ice time, we don't have the margin of error to do that or luxury to do that. As long as he's feeling well, we'll keep an eye on him. But I would expect him to play significant minutes."

Coburn's status remains questionable.

"Right now I'm just kind of dealing with some things with the eye and stuff like that," Coburn said. "Every day it's been getting better. Tomorrow we're re-evaluating it again."

While Coburn wouldn't go into detail about what he's been dealing with, he said his depth perception has been an issue, as well as adjusting to wearing a visor for the first time.

Coburn's situation is somewhat reminiscent of former Flyer Keith Primeau, who was elbowed in the head in a game in October 2005, but said he felt fine the next day. However, his symptoms gradually worsened until he was removed from the lineup five days later due to post-concussion syndrome. Primeau never played again.

"It's not always how you feel right away," said center Mike Richards. "It's the after-effect. He might have headaches or dizziness or things like that. Even though at this point in the season you want to play pretty bad, you don't want to risk something like that for the future. You're concerned about his health, but you obviously want him on the ice, too."

Flyers officials haven't come out and said Coburn's symptoms are not related to a concussion, but Coburn, Stevens, athletic trainer Jim McCrossin and team doctors will meet Sunday morning to determine Coburn's status.

"He just has to decide if he feels well enough to play," Stevens said. "He's still trying to get back on the ice and see how he sees through his eye with the injury he's had, and make sure he feels 100 percent. Make sure the doctors feel comfortable with him playing, and make sure he feels comfortable in his own mind, make sure of his health, he's a healthy player. And if he is, we're glad to have him back. If he's not, we're not going to put him in harm's way, either."

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