We'll know more after Saturday's practice in Voorhees, but the upshot today seemed to be that the Flyers should have Kimmo Timonen available for Sunday's Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final series, and they could also regain their other sidelined defenseman, Braydon Coburn.
"I feel confident I'm ready to go Sunday, but I won't know for sure until I practice with the team," said Timonen, who acknowledged he was surprised to get the green light in a Thursday visit to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and chief of vascular surgery Dr. Ronald M. Fairman.
Timonen has been sidelined since just before this series with the Pittsburgh Penguins began. He blocked a shot with his left ankle in Game 4 of the Montreal series, played Game 5 despite numbness in his foot, and subsequently was found to have a blood clot, which doctors said then could move down and cause serious complications, such as amputated toes. He was given little hope of playing again this spring.
Neither Timonen for Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren could fully explain how Timonen's prognosis changed so drastically.
"I've got to trust the doctors," Timonen said. "You know, we go back a week, doctors told me that nobody knows if it's going to be 10 days, 2 weeks, 2 months, 5 months. Nobody knew that. And I went to the hospital (Thursday), I didn't know what to expect. I didn't expect this news ... I wanted to make sure, and I'm sure everyone else wanted to make sure that there is absolutely no danger at all, because that's not the risk I want to take, and I'm sure nobody wants to take that risk."
Timonen said he was told that the fact the blood clot hasn't moved since he suffered the injury, on April 30, means it won't move. He will wear special protection on his skate, Holmgren said, and Timonen said he still will have to contend with pain and numbness, as he did in Game 5 against Montreal.
"It's just a matter of how much pain I can take," Timonen said. "I'm sure we've got some medication for pain."
Coburn, meanwhile, declined requests for comment, and might be less certain to be in the lineup as the Flyers again try to stave off elimination in a series they trailed three games to none before winning, 4-2, Thursday night at the Wachovia Center.
Coburn was hit in the face with a puck early in Game 2 of this series, closing his left eye and requiring about 50 stitches. Coburn, who practiced on Wednesday, did not skate yesterday, though Flyers coach John Stevens said he rode an exercise bike. He, too, is expected to practice today.
Holmgren hinted there might be more to Coburn's problem than the reopening of his left eye. Though Holmgren carefully avoided using the word "concussion," it was the GM who first mentioned Coburn throwing up on the flight back from Pittsburgh after Game 2. That could be a concussion symptom.Yesterday, Holmgren said Coburn "is going through some struggles right now" and "still doesn't feel right ... He's got a bright future ahead of him and we just want to be careful with him."
Asked if Coburn is exhibiting concussion symptoms, Holmgren said: "Not really ... We're continuing to monitor that ... Nobody has ever said that to me. (But) he got hit in the head with a puck, at a high rate of speed, and he doesn't feel right."
Timonen and Coburn are the Flyers' top defensemen, and are skilled at moving the puck up the ice, something the team has struggled with in this series.