Flyers prepared if Johnsson can't play

Updated: April 21, 2004, 2:31 PM ET
Associated Press

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Kim Johnsson hopes to play in the team's second-round playoff series despite breaking a bone in his right hand.

"Right now it's better than yesterday, so I'm still looking forward for Game 1 on Thursday," Johnsson said Monday.

Kim Johnsson

Johnsson, the Flyers' best defenseman, was injured late in Saturday's 3-1 series-clinching victory over the defending Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils. He was hit with the puck, and has a hairline fracture of the fourth metacarpal -- the bone connecting the ring finger and the wrist.

"Kim has a chance to start this series," Flyers general manager Bob Clarke said. "If he did and the fracture became displaced, we would have to put a couple of pins in his hand and he would be out at least two weeks."

Johnsson will wear extra padding to soften any blows to his hand. He had one goal and five assists in five games against New Jersey, and had 13 goals and 29 assists for 42 points in the regular season.

"If he can't shoot the puck with any velocity or snap the puck, we'll bite the bullet for a game or two without him," Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said.

Hitchcock said Johnsson wouldn't have been able to play if the Flyers had a game Monday because of the amount of swelling in his hand.

"I don't want him tentative. It's going to be his call," Hitchcock said.

The Flyers already are without defenseman Eric Desjardins for the playoffs because of a forearm injury.

If Johnsson doesn't play, Hitchcock said he'll move Sami Kapanen from forward to play defense. Kapanen played defense twice during the regular season, and welcomes the switch.

"It's a totally different game," Kapanen said. "In order to play defense in the playoffs, you have to go out and compete and make those simple plays, stay out of the trouble."

Hitchcock said Kapanen has bugged the coaches about playing defense since getting a taste of it earlier in the season.

"Sami loves it back there," Hitchcock said. "He feels he creates more on the rush. He feels he's more of an impact on the offense from back there."

The Flyers will play the winner of the Toronto-Ottawa series, which concludes Tuesday night in Game 7.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press