When a team is 6-8-1 and has played nearly one-third of this shortened season, room for error begins to quickly shrink. That team is the Philadelphia Flyers and the error I’m referring to isn’t their disappointing “come from ahead” 5-3 road loss to the New Jersey Devils on Friday night. It’s the potential loss of Kimmo Timonen that should have everyone worried.
An undocumented lower-body injury was apparently sustained by the Flyers’ defensive leader during the second period of the game. The soon-to-be (March 18) 38-year old veteran didn’t return to the ice in the third period.
Chris Pronger has been seen around the Flyers this season. His office is no longer in front of the crease, or on the opposition’s blue line. Instead, that future Hall of Famer has simply felt well enough to help the front office with scouting assessments.
The loss of “Prongs” since early last season caused Timonen to become Peter Laviolette‘s de facto defensive leader. It was a natural transition, due to the long-time Flyers’ tenure and standout two-way presence.
There was understandable concern heading into this unusual season, because of the thinness within the overall defense. The inability to land restricted free agent Shea Weber stopped any thoughts of Philadelphia’s defense becoming dominant.
Coupled with the free agent loss of Matt Carle and promising second-year defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon’s concussion (and resulting absence), has been Andrej Meszaros‘ sprained left shoulder. That injury sent him to the injured reserve list.
While former Toronto Maple Leafs‘ defender Luke Schenn has proven to be a fine off-season acquisition, there haven’t been any other impact additions that have helped to compensate for the noted losses.
If Timonen is lost for any significant length of time, the Flyers would be severely pressed to keep their heads above the ice. While there’s still time for this team to rejoin the Eastern Conference playoff race, the ides (fifteenth) of March looks like a realistic benchmark to get back in it, or to be looking toward next season.