Blood clot likely to sideline Timonen for East finals

Updated: May 9, 2008, 12:11 PM ET
Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA -- Flyers All-Star defenseman Kimmo Timonen will likely miss the Eastern Conference finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins because of a blood clot in his left ankle.

Huge blow to Flyers
Imagine if the Detroit Red Wings learned perpetual Norris Trophy nominee Nicklas Lidstrom was gone for the playoffs. Now you have an idea of the shocking turn of events for the Philadelphia Flyers, who learned late Thursday afternoon that top defenseman Kimmo Timonen likely was lost for the balance of the playoffs with a blood clot in his ankle.

During the Flyers' second-round series against the Canadiens, Timonen blocked a shot in Game 4 and played through significant pain in Game 5, in which Philly ousted Montreal. Further tests revealed the blood clot. Timonen remained in Philadelphia when his teammates traveled to Pittsburgh for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Penguins on Friday.

The slick-skating Finn was acquired by the Flyers after last season and has been the team's best all-around defender.

In these playoffs, Timonen and young defenseman Braydon Coburn have been the team's top shutdown pair and were expected to log significant ice time against the Evgeni Malkin forward line.

It's unknown how coach John Stevens will adjust to this significant blow. Earlier in the season, Coburn teamed with Derian Hatcher as a strong defensive tandem. It's expected Hatcher will face off most often against Sidney Crosby.

-- Scott Burnside

Philadelphia general manager Paul Holmgren said Timonen was hit by a shot by Montreal's Andrei Markov late in Game 4 of Philadelphia's second-round victory over the Canadiens. Timonen had an MRI taken Wednesday that didn't show a clot, but a vascular surgeon found a small one Thursday.

"We have to view this that he's not a player for us in the series, and march on," Holmgren said Thursday night.

The Flyers eliminated the Canadiens in five games and will open the next series at Pittsburgh on Friday.

The nine-year veteran discovered the severity of the injury after a hospital visit Thursday morning. Timonen said the doctor told him if the clot improves in the next two weeks, there would be a small chance he could play again this season. Still, Timonen knows a return to the lineup is unlikely.

"It's the most disappointing thing in my hockey life, for sure," he said.

Timonen is the Flyers' top defenseman and played a crucial role in shutting down Washington's Alex Ovechkin for most of the seven-game, first-round series. Timonen was fantastic at anticipating plays, attacking Ovechkin with the puck and taking away space to create easy goals.

He was just as effective against Montreal's Alex Kovalev, and was being counted on to limit Pittsburgh's top forwards Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

"How many times in your lifetime do you get to play in the conference finals or the Stanley Cup finals?" Timonen said.

Holmgren said Timonen, who didn't make the trip to Pittsburgh, is injured right where he ties up the skate.

"Obviously, you can't replace a player that does what Kimmo does for us," Holmgren said.

Jaroslav Modry or Ryan Parent will fill Timonen's roster spot.

Timonen was also injured in Game 3 against the Capitals when he slammed into the net and crashed his right shoulder against the camera mounted inside. He didn't miss any games.

Timonen played Game 5 against the Canadiens, and felt numbness in his toes and foot that never went away. Timonen, who has six assists in the postseason, is on blood thinners. He had a similar injury earlier in his career with Nashville, but said that clot was much more painful and noticeable than this one.

Holmgren said the Flyers weren't taking any chances.

"If he gets hit again, a lot of problems could arise," he said.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press