Finland defeated the U.S., 5-0, to win Olympic bronze in Sochi, Russia. (AP)
Kimmo Timonen was showing off his Olympic bronze medal.
“Here it is,” the Flyers' defenseman laughed. “If you don’t want to see it, don’t look!
“We lost a couple of big boys before the tournament (Mikko Koivu and Valtteri Filppula), and you guys don’t think we had a chance, but I’ll show you the medal and maybe you change your mind now. It’s a team sport. We played as a team. It was a good showing for the Flyers, too. You play as a team, you can beat anybody.”
It was classic Timonen on Wednesday afternoon as the soon-to-be 39-year-old returned to practice after his final Olympics with Team Finland, who humiliated the Americans, 5-0, last Saturday to capture the bronze.
Timonen stressed how the Flyers can still win the Stanley Cup this spring simply by playing as a team, even if they’re considered an underdog – much like Finland.
“If we play as a team, I really believe we have a good chance,” Timonen said. “The way we ended before the break with goalie playing really well and playing as a team, we have a good chance. It takes everybody. The way we played on Finland was as a team, and we didn’t have any big stars other than [Teemu] Selanne. You play as a team with a good goalie, anything is possible.”
Timonen won’t play Thursday night against San Jose when the Flyers resume their schedule. The team has 23 games left to play over the next 46 days before the playoffs.
Coach Craig Berube said Timonen needs a few practices to get his legs back. Timonen has also had trouble sleeping and readjusting to the time difference since returning on Monday.
“Almost like skating in the mud,” Timonen said. “Haven’t skated since the game ended. We celebrated a couple days, let’s put it that way.”
He admitted his emotions of having worn the Finnish team jersey for five Olympics remain fresh.
Those emotions were stirred even more watching Selanne, who became the oldest Olympian to medal (age 43), skate around for what seemed like an entire period following the bronze medal game. Selanne is a six-time Olympian.
“The way it ended was emotional for me and everybody there,” Timonen said. “There were a couple guys like him and me and Sami Salo and maybe Olli Jokinen, too. We knew it’s our last time. For me, it’s been 23 years since I put that jersey on for the first time when I was 16 years old. It was like a dream come true. We wanted to win the gold and it was a tight game against Sweden, 2-1, it could have gone either way. I knew when we went into that game against USA that if we played the same way we had the whole tournament, we had a chance.”
And Finland did. Now the focus shifts to the Flyers. Timonen is expected to return on Saturday afternoon against the Rangers.
“It’s going to be a sprint now,” he said. “We got a lot of home games and they are going to be huge. If you look at teams we play against, there are no easy games. Top teams and back-to-back and a lot of afternoon games. It’s going to be a sprint, but I like our chances.”