Amid all the injuries the Flyers have incurred, one constant yet again has been the durability of defenseman Kimmo Timonen.
Not only has the 5-foot-10, 194-pound Timonen played all 25 games this season, he competed in all 82 in each of the previous two years. According to Flyers research, he has played in 210 consecutive regular-season games. Timonen last missed a game on March 1, 2009.
"His play is excellent. His leadership has been excellent on the ice and in practice," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said following Monday's practice at the Skate Zone in Voorhees. "For me, what is most impressive is his durability."
Laviolette compared Timonen to another institution.
"I have told him he's like the mail. He shows up every day. It's in your box," Laviolette said. "You don't think about how it gets there."
Not only is Timonen reliable, he's enjoying another banner season. In addition to sharing the team assists lead with Claude Giroux, with 17, Timonen is the Flyers' leader with 52 blocked shots. He is also a plus-8 in the plus/minus ratings.
"For me, he is quietly one of the best defensemen in the league," Laviolette said. "Positionally, he plays against the top players in all situations, but yet he goes about his business and never gets a lot of fanfare."
Timonen, who has competed in four Olympics for Finland, has been noticed to an extent. He has been named to the NHL All-Star Game four times. So while not performing in anonymity, he doesn't generate an abundance of publicity, and he understands why.
"I am not 6-foot-2 tall and not a fighter," said Timonen, who turns 37 in March. "I am not a flashy guy, and my approach to the game is I try to do the best I can."
Timonen was originally a 10th-round draft choice of the Los Angeles Kings in 1993, but he wouldn't go to the NHL until the 1998-99 season after the Kings traded his rights to Nashville. The Flyers acquired him along with Scott Hartnell after the 2007 season.
"He is underrated but for sure one of the best defensemen in the league, and it has been that way for the past 10 years," Hartnell said.
Timonen said there is one thing that has been distorted - his reputation as a quiet leader, with an emphasis on the quiet part.
"I am not quiet. That is the wrong impression because I'm quiet when the media comes around," he said. "I talk a lot and make sure everybody is ready to go."
Timonen entered the league with a low profile, and he has used that to fuel his motivation.
"I wasn't a first-round pick. I was selected in the 10th round, and there aren't even 10 rounds these days," Kimonen said. "It was always in the back of my mind that when I got to the NHL, I felt if I miss a couple of games, somebody could take my spot."
That mentality never left.
"It's still kind of my approach, even if I know it's not true anymore," he said. "But it's in the back of my mind if I miss a couple of games, somebody will play better and take my spot."
Injury update. Forward James van Riemsdyk, who has missed the last four games with an upper-body injury, participated in his first full practice on Monday since the injury.
"I feel good," van Riemsdyk said afterward.
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said van Riemsdyk is day-to-day and possible for Wednesday's game in Buffalo against the Sabres.
Three Flyers were given off from practice on Monday for what the team termed a maintenance day: Andrej Meszaros, Danny Briere, and Brayden Schenn.
All three, according to Holmgren, will rejoin the team on Tuesday.