Flyers' Timonen could be back for Game 5, but Coburn's return unlikely

Updated: May 17, 2008, 2:54 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Kimmo Timonen's return from injury suddenly seems much closer than that of Philadelphia Flyers defense partner Braydon Coburn.

Kimmo Timonen

Timonen

Braydon Coburn

Coburn

The All-Star was all but ruled out for the season a week ago, on the eve of the Eastern Conference finals, when it was revealed he had a blood clot in his left ankle. But after a visit to his doctor Thursday, hours before the Flyers extended their season with a 4-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins, the prognosis got a whole lot better.

If Timonen gets through practice without any problems Saturday, and can deal with numbness and pain in his injured foot, he expects to be in the lineup Sunday in Pittsburgh when the Flyers try to stay alive in Game 5.

"At least now I know there's no danger," said Timonen, 33, after skating for 35 minutes Friday. "It's just a matter of how much pain I can take. It takes only 15 minutes to skate, and I can't feel my toes. That is the biggest thing. When that happens, the pain comes in, but I'm sure we've got some medicine for pain."

If Timonen's situation is dictated by his tolerance for pain it's a question of being able to see straight for Coburn. The other missing Flyers defenseman continues to skate but it's unclear whether he can see well enough out of his injured eye to play. Coburn took a Hal Gill shot to the left side of his face and eye early in Game 1 and hasn't played since.

The defenseman's eye was swollen shut, but improved enough that he was able to practice Wednesday. That gave false hope that he might be able to play Thursday, and now his availability for Sunday also seems to be in doubt.

"I think the swelling hasn't gone all the way down," Flyers coach John Stevens said. "But I think he can get to the point where he can see well enough to play. It's just a matter of getting back on the ice. He's going to have to wear a visor now."

Coburn, 23, rode the stationary bike on Friday and declined to speak to reporters after the workout. Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said he hasn't been told Coburn has a concussion, but added Coburn "just doesn't feel right."

"Nobody has ever said that to me," Holmgren said. "He got hit in the head with a puck, at a high rate of speed, and he doesn't feel right."

Obviously, this is a good chance for me to play, and I wanted to make sure, and I'm sure everyone else wanted to make sure that there is absolutely no danger at all. That's not the risk I want to take, and I'm sure nobody wants to take that risk. I've got to trust the doctors.

-- Kimmo Timonen

Holmgren said a few days earlier that Coburn had a rough flight back from Pittsburgh after Sunday's game, including lightheadedness and vomiting, but that he had recovered from those symptoms by Monday.

"He is going through some struggles right now," Holmgren added. "He's got a bright future ahead of him and we just want to be careful with him."

Coburn's ability to get through a workout Saturday will likewise go a long way to determining if he can play Sunday.

The initial fear for Timonen was that the clot could break free from his ankle and create serious health problems that could threaten his career or force amputation of his toes. Dr. Ronald Fairman, the chief of vascular surgery at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, told Timonen that concern has been alleviated.

Timonen was injured in Game 4 of the second round against the Montreal Canadiens when he blocked a shot, but continued playing and was back in for Game 5 despite feeling numbness in his foot.

The clot hasn't grown in the 2 weeks since Timonen was injured and doctors don't believe it will get bigger.

"I went to the hospital. I didn't know what to expect," Timonen said. "I didn't expect this news. Obviously, this is a good chance for me to play, and I wanted to make sure, and I'm sure everyone else wanted to make sure that there is absolutely no danger at all. That's not the risk I want to take, and I'm sure nobody wants to take that risk.

"I've got to trust the doctors."

The smooth-skating Finn has missed the entire Eastern Conference final and his absence has been crucial given his ability to move the puck out of the Flyers' zone and his importance to the power play. Until they scored twice with the man advantage in the first period of Thursday's game the Flyers had just one power-play goal in the first three games, all Flyer losses.

"Kimmo is one of the best puck-moving defensemen in the league," goalie Martin Biron said. "He's even better on the ice when you don't notice him because he does the little things right all the time. He makes guys think twice. It's no secret he's an All-Star.

"When you play against him or play with him, that's when you appreciate his full value."

The unexpected emotional lift of having such an important player back in the dressing room can't be quantified.

"He's a huge part of our team," Stevens said. "Through this year he's progressed, and in the playoffs he's really taken his game to another level. I think just his presence around our team all year, he's got deep respect by all his teammates. He just has composure all the time. I think that's infectious on our team."

ESPN.com's Scott Burnside contributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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