Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen helped Finland win a silver medal in Turin at the 2006 Winter Olympics.

This time, in what figures to be his fourth and final Olympics, he hopes to come home with gold.

Canada, Russia, and Sweden, the defending champion, are considered the favorites.

"It doesn't matter if we're the favorites or the underdogs," Timonen said. "We're going to do our jobs, and the last few times we've done well. We want to keep it going."

Finland, which has a veteran team with strong defense and goaltending, has never won the gold medal.

"I think we have a good chance to do well," Timonen said. "I like our team."

Eighteen of Finland's 23 players are in the NHL, including forwards Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu. The roster also includes three former Flyers: goalie Antero Niittymaki and defensemen Joni Pitkanen and Lasse Kukkonen.

In 2006, Selanne and Koivu tied for the tournament scoring title with 11 points in eight games.

Timonen is one of four returning defensemen from a team that allowed just eight goals in the eight games.

According to Timonen, who will turn 35 next month, going to the Olympics was an easy decision, even though his body could benefit from the rest.

"It's an honor to represent your country - and for what they've done for me and my life and my career," Timonen said. "So it's hard to say no to those kinds of things."

The Olympic hockey games start Tuesday. The gold-medal contest takes place Feb. 28 - two days before the Flyers resume action at Tampa Bay, followed by a game the next night at Florida.

"It's going to be tough, no getting around it," Timonen said of the schedule the NHL Olympians are playing.

The non-Olympians "get a 10-day break where they're totally off hockey," he said. "We have to focus on hockey for a two-week period - especially the teams that get to the final - so it'll be tough."

Timonen smiled.

"But it's only every four years, so I'm sure we can handle it," he said.

Finland, which has won medals in three of the last four Olympics, returns 15 players from the team that lost to Sweden, 3-2, in the exciting 2006 gold-medal game. The Finns' offense is suspect, but they hope to win lots of low-scoring games.