kimmo timonen

Flyers’ Timonen worried how body will respond to shortened season


Kimmo Timonen is 37 years old, a veteran of nearly 1,000 games and coming off back surgery.

So, no surprise he’s approaching a (potential) compacted 48-game season with trepidation.

“It won’t be that easy,” Timonen told the Courier-Post. “That’s going to be probably four or five games a week sometimes. That’s way less than 82 games, but 48 in a short period of time might be even worse for me.”

Timonen’s heading into the final year of a six-year, $38 million deal, and the Flyers have gotten their money’s worth. He’s only missed 13 games since coming to Philadelphia in 2007, and appeared in all 64 postseason contests.

As for this year — if the league was to resume on the proposed Jan. 19 date, it would require all games to be played in roughly four-and-a-half months, similar to what happened during the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season.

That could be tough on the Finnish rearguard, according to the Post:

Timonen underwent surgery last May to remove a disc fragment from his lower back. He’s been 100 percent healthy for months.n mid-December, he took time off to be a more active hockey dad to his 13-year-old son, who is playing for an area youth team coached by former Flyers defenseman Derian Hatcher.

“I’ve got to be honest, there were a lot of weekends where I didn’t miss hockey at all,” Timonen said. “Following my son, going to tournaments … we drove to a tournament in Canada last week … I’ve been having a good time.”

Timonen’s comments echo those made by a number of veteran players around the league.

For the older guys, being away from the game for an extended period is a double-edged sword: great for rest and recuperation, awful for when it’s time to get back into shape.

There’s also a sense many older players have used the lockout as a time to prep for the inevitable — retirement.

That’s something Jamie Langenbrunner told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last month.

“I think this time also prepares you for it,” he explained. “I’ve gotten involved in coaching the kids’ teams and quite frankly, I’ve gotten to enjoy that aspect of it.

“You realize there is going to be an end to this [lockout] at some point. But it makes me feel when the end [of his career] does come, I’ll be prepared for that.”

With Jonathan Bernier sputtering, we’ll meet Garret Sparks

Garett Sparks
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You can’t blame Mike Babcock for siding with the relatively unknown when the other option is Jonathan Bernier, a goalie who’s 0-8-1 so far in 2015-16.

With that in mind, meet Garret Sparks, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ expected starter for Monday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.

Sparks was a seventh-round pick (190th overall) in 2011, a guy who was off to a great start in the AHL. That much wasn’t lost on Babcock.

Let’s face it, though; this is as much about the Leafs’ other two goalies as it is about Sparks (whose name inspired a very obscure reference in this post’s headline).

In Bernier’s case, there’s an “enough’s enough” feel:

Meanwhile, James Reimer‘s not quite healthy enough to play yet, so the window of opportunity is open for Sparks … a little bit.

Sparks will get a chance to make an impression, even if it’s just a small one.

Video: Dylan Larkin adds to his rookie goals lead

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So far, the 2015-16 crop of rookies is living up to the hype, if not exceeding it. Connor McDavid‘s unfortunate injury hasn’t even derailed this year’s crop.

The Detroit Red Wings are watching their own blue chip blossom, as Dylan Larkin is making an instant impact.

No. 71 scored his 10th goal of the season against the Florida Panthers on Sunday, fattening his rookie goals lead.

He still needs five points to match rookie points leader Artemi Panarin, though.

Latest report leaves Carey Price’s injury timeline fuzzy

Carey Price
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There’s one thing we seem to know about Carey Price‘s injury situation: he first got hurt stepping on a puck on Oct. 29, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Contrary to earlier reports about him missing about a month, it sounds like his window of recovery is still up in the air (which, to be fair, could mean that he’ll still miss about a month when it’s all said and done).

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Price underwent testing with Montreal’s team doctor on Saturday and is expected to go through more; we may not know more about his expected injury timeline until early this coming week.

So, basically, Price’s situation is fuzzier than his mustache right now.

Leg injuries can be tricky anyway, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that there are mixed signals regarding Price, and this may remain a fluid situation for some time.

(But we’ll hopefully know more soon enough.)

Lightning lament life as a .500 team

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The Tampa Bay Lightning have plenty of time to rise above mediocrity, yet it still must be deserving to finish at .500 for two straight months.

After last night’s 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders, that’s exactly where they find themselves:

Record at the end of October: 5-5-2

Record at the end of November: 11-11-3

As of this writing, the Lightning found themselves on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. It all stands as a pretty tough thing for the reigning Eastern Conference champs to swallow.

The uncomfortable-yet-vital question is: can the Lightning break out of this funk?

Looking at their schedule, it won’t be easy, at least not right away.

They crawl through California during a three-game road trip to start December, and they also face six of eight on the road from Dec. 2 – 18.

The Lightning soak up home dates to finish 2015 after that, but what damage will be done by then?

Frankly, the Bolts will need to dig deep to break this pattern. If nothing else, they’ve fought with their backs against the wall before.