PITTSBURGH - Kimmo Timonen wasn't in the Philadelphia Flyers' lineup Friday night, sidelined by a blood clot on his left ankle that is all but certain to keep him out the rest of the playoffs. It didn't keep him out of their dressing room.
Timonen, ruled out of the Flyers' Eastern Conference final series against the Penguins the day before, unexpectedly travelled to Pittsburgh for Game 1 by catching a ride on team chairman Ed Snider's plane. Doctors cleared him to make the trip.
"I talked to (coach) John Stevens last night, and he said he would like me to come here and be part of the team," Timonen said Friday. "When I got the news that I could fly, it was a no-brainer. I want to come here and I want to stay here and I'm flying back Sunday with the team. So I'm going to be as helpful as I can."
Timonen, the shutdown defenceman who was pivotal to the Flyers' two playoff series wins, was devastated upon learning he probably won't play again this season. The ankle problem developed after he blocked a shot in Game 4 of the second-round series against Montreal and gradually became worse.
"It was awful. I can't even describe the feeling," Timonen said of learning he couldn't play. "It's been a really rough 24 hours."
Timonen also had a blood clot several years ago, but said this one is much worse.
"This time it was in the artery, not in the vein. The dangerous thing about this is if I kept playing and the clot breaks loose, it could go to my toes and they'd have to cut my toes off," Timonen said. "So obviously you don't want that to happen. So I met three different doctors (on Thursday), and everybody said they won't let me play. There are too many risks of that to happen, and I've got to respect their opinion."
Timonen isn't certain when he can play again, but has been told he shouldn't expect to come back the rest of the playoffs.
"They said it might be two weeks, it might be two months, it might be five months," Timonen said. "It's really individual how the blood thinners are working, and we'll see. We're going to do the checkup every week and see how if it's any smaller or is it any better, and then we'll go from there."
If the problem had not been discovered until later and he had continued playing, Timonen was told the problem could have become career-threatening.
While the Flyers acknowledge that losing their most skilled defenseman is a major setback against an opponent with skilled forwards Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, Timonen is confident the Flyers can compensate for his absence. Randy Jones is taking his place on the power play and Jaroslav Modry moved into the lineup.
"We faced a lot of adversity throughout the year. We lost some key guys for a long period of time," Timonen said. "But we were still able to win games, and that tells you what kind of team we have."