Originally posted on NHL Hot Stove  |  Last updated 10/21/11

By David Strehle
NHL Hot Stove Managing Editor

Coming into this season, the biggest thing the Philadelphia Flyers could not afford to occur was any kind of serious injury to either of their top two defenders, Chris Pronger and Kimmo Timonen.

The aging pair are the glue that holds a very good Philadelphia blueline together, and any extended period of time without either could prove disastrous.  Just look at the affect that missing Pronger for 32 games with various injuries had on the team last year for a frame of reference.

A huge red flag was raised last night early in the second period.  Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green wound up for a slap shot, and Timonen, playing in game number 900 of his career, sprawled to the ice in an attempt to block the shot.

He did just that, and was in obvious distress immediately.  Timonen slowly got to his skates and went right to the bench.

The shot appeared to hit the 36-year-old rear guard somewhere in the torso, but he says that was not the case.

“No, it hit my hand, not my chest,” Timonen explained after the game.

It is not known if Timonen had X-rays taken on his hand, but he saw a season-low amount of just 13:16 TOI, by far his lowest total this year.  As a matter of fact, it was the first game he has not seen over 20 minutes of ice time.

Remember, one of the wounds Pronger dealt with last season was a broken bone in his right hand - which cost him the final 16 games of the regular season and all but three of the 11 playoff contests.  In addition to working on his back after surgery, Pronger had more rehabilitation work to do over the summer for his hand.

Any kind of hand injury is a difficult one to play through for a hockey player, as just gripping the stick can be an almost-impossible task, depending on the severity of the injury.

After the game, Timonen said it was not a big deal.  “Well, it’s hardly anything serious, but it is sore, I’ll tell you that.”

While the extent of the injury or Timonen’s status for Saturday’s home game against the St. Louis Blues are unknown, one thing that is for certain is the Flyers cannot afford an absence for any prolonged span.  A young team that was handed its first real dose of adversity of the season in a 5-2 drubbing by the Caps last night can ill-afford to be without Timonen’s veteran presence.

Peter Laviolette has seen fit to go with just six defensemen in each of the first six contests to start the year, rotating Andreas Lilja and Matt Walker in and out of the lineup and switching up his defensive pairings.

If Timonen misses the game with St. Louis, it’s likely that both Lilja and Walker will both be inserted, even though neither has been particularly stellar early in the new campaign. 

Another possibilities could be to recall Oskars Bartulis or Erik Gustafsson from the Adirondack Phantoms, but the team has no cap room at the present time in which to do so.  If either is brought up, roster space will need to be made in order to fit them in.

In any case, it’s likely that Pronger, Matt Carle, Andrej Meszaros, and Braydon Coburn will see a significant increase in their respective amount of ice time – which for Pronger, may not be the best situation.  He’s already logging an average of over 23 minutes per contest this year, after missing most of training camp and only seeing action in one preseason game.

If you have any comments or questions, you can email the author at dstrehle@nhlhotstove.com.  You can also follow him on Twitter – @David_Strehle

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