Skate Update: Kimmo Timonen returns to lineup

Skate Update: Kimmo Timonen returns to lineup
February 6, 2014, 12:00 pm
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Kimmo Timonen averages 20:44 TOI per game. (AP)

Defenseman Kimmo Timonen will return to the Flyers’ lineup tonight when the team hosts the Colorado Avalanche at the Wells Fargo Center.

Timonen had missed the last two games -- and five days of practice -- with a sore left foot.

“The last five, six days have been tough,” Timonen said. “But I want to play. With the Olympics obviously coming, I want to get a couple games in -- at least one. It's going the right way, I'm feeling pretty good, so it's a good feeling.”

Timonen, who will travel to Sochi to represent Finland at the Olympics, skated with Braydon Coburn during the Flyers’ morning skate Thursday. He also returned to his spot on the point during power-play drills.

His return provides the Flyers with an extra boost on top of their two-game winning streak.

“Anytime Kimmo is in the lineup, he logs a lot of minutes,” Claude Giroux said. “He plays really good for us, so it's going to be good to have him back.”

Timonen averages 20:44 on the ice a night, second on the Flyers only to Coburn.

"Obviously he's a real good defenseman and plays in all situations," coach Craig Berube said. "It's good to have him back."

Andrej Meszaros will again be a healthy scratch tonight (see story). Erik Gustafsson remains in the lineup. 

Build off California
The Flyers surprised almost everyone by finishing their three-game tour through California, where they faced two of the NHL's top teams, 2-1.

The trick now is to use their success on the West Coast to their advantage, and put together some wins at home before the Olympic break.

"We played good teams and we played a good 60 minutes against both teams [Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks]," Giroux said. "We want to be a team that does that, and it's good to know that we can do it against good teams."

The Avalanche, whom the Flyers fell to in January by a score of 2-1, will pose a challenge. They're in third place in the Western Conference's Central Division, and are 7-3-0 in their last 10 games.

"The whole team, going into the game tonight, shouldn't forget about what we did in San Jose," Timonen said, "because we should do the same thing tonight -- skating, just five man pressure everywhere, just no lazy strides anywhere, just work the whole game. We have to do that tonight, these guys are a fast team. You've got to really skate against them. They'll be ready, they got beat [in their last game, 5-1, by the New York Rangers]."

Mason vs. Varlamov
Steve Mason gets the start in net for the Flyers tonight, and across the ice from him will be Semyon Varlamov, who was also in net when the two teams met last month in Colorado.

While Mason has played very well lately (he has two shutouts in his last four starts), so has Varlamov, whose .924 save percentage is ninth best in the NHL. Varlamov, by the way, was the difference maker in that aforementioned Flyers loss to the Avs.

"I think we played a good game last time we played them," Giroux said. "Their goalie played very well, so we need to make sure we put more pucks and put traffic in front of him."