Kimmo Timonen under treatment for blood clots

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Kimmo Timonen under treatment for blood clots

Kimmo Timonen is expected to be released from a hospital in Finland sometime on Wednesday after being treated for multiple blood clots in both lungs and his lower right leg.

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall made the stunning announcement Tuesday after learning himself of the situation on Monday.

Hextall said the club will proceed as if this a “long term” situation, and try to sign a player via free agency or a trade. Timonen is out indefinitely.

They are more than $3 million over the NHL salary cap of $69 million for the coming season.

“We believe it could be a long-term situation and will continue to evaluate what is out there,” Hextall said during a conference call. “If we feel we need to make a move we will and I would suspect there’s a good chance we will.”

During their discussions with Nashville earlier this summer involving moving center Vinny Lecavalier, it is believed the Flyers inquired about a deal to secure the rights to 24-year-old unrestricted free agent defenseman Michael Del Zotto.

Del Zotto is still available.

There are numerous aging defenseman, such as Douglas Murray (34), Henrik Tallinder (35) and Derek Morris (35), just to name a few.

Hextall said he had not spoken to Timonen.

“Kimmo was with his buddy and had pain in his calf for three days and thought he had a pulled a calf muscle,” Hextall said, adding that the friend convinced him to get checked out in a hospital. “They did some type of evaluation and found the blood clots …”

This is not the first time that Timonen has been felled by blood clots.

He missed the start of the 2008 Eastern Conference finals against Pittsburgh because of clots in his left foot. He missed four games and returned in play in the Game 5 finale.

That injury was the result of being struck on the foot by a shot from Montreal’s Andrei Markov in the previous playoff series.

Hextall said Timonen did not have any minor surgery that could have produced these latest clots.

“I have not talked to him yet, and have reached out twice,” Hextall said. “He sent me a text. He seemed very frustrated, but we’re all happy for Kimmo and his three children that he is fine.”

Timonen, who turns 40 in March, re-signed this summer to a one-year contract at a reasonable salary of $2 million with incentives that could double that amount.

While he is no longer a true No.1, he is certainly a 1-A on the Flyers, given their overall defensive corps, which could use an infusion of speed and youth.

“There’s no question, it’s a setback; there’s no other way to explain it,” Hextall said. “We’ll do what we can to make the team better. We’ve been looking at a few things for the last few weeks and this will probably expedite something.

“You can’t take, not only the player, but the experience, the calm and the poise and the respect Kimmo has in the locker room and not say you didn’t take a step back.”

While this entire scenario would see to present a golden opportunity for budding defensive prospects Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg or  Samuel Morin, in training camp, it doesn’t, Hextall emphasized.

“I’ve said this a few times, I don’t want to put a kid into a situation who is not ready for it,” Hextall said. “The way to protect yourself is to add a veteran if possible.”

The Flyers remain uncertain what the long-term medical consequences could be for Timonen if he does or does not play this season.

“He’s in stable condition and doing well, and the word is he should be discharged tomorrow,” Hextall said. “We’re more worried about Kimmo the person and not the hockey player.”

Timonen can’t travel for 2-3 weeks. When he is permitted to do so, he will return to the Flyers to be re-evaluated.

Last season, he averaged 20:20 ice time -- exactly two minutes less than his career average.

Best of NHL: Surging Capitals rock Blues in St. Louis

Best of NHL: Surging Capitals rock Blues in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS -- Andre Burakovsky, T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov each had a goal and an assist to lead the Washington Capitals to a 7-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

Jay beagle, Brett Connolly, Marcus Johansson and Justin Williams also scored, and Alex Ovechkin and Daniel Winnik each had two assists to help Washington earn at least a point in its 12th straight game (10-0-2) for an NHL-best 66 points.

Braden Holtby bounced back from his roughest outing of the season with 22 saves. Holtby was pulled after giving up a season-high five goals on 26 shots in an 8-7 overtime loss at Pittsburgh on Monday. He improved to 22-8-4 and 5-0 lifetime against St. Louis (see full recap).

Grabner scores 2 goals, Rangers top Leafs
TORONTO -- Michael Grabner scored two goals against his former team, helping the New York Rangers snap a three-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

Pavel Buchnevich, Brady Skjei and J.T. Miller added goals for New York, and Henrik Lundqvist made 23 saves following a series of rough outings.

Tyler Bozak and Zach Hyman scored for Toronto, which had a three-game winning streak stopped. The Maple Leafs had earned 21 of a possible 26 points in their previous 13 games (10-2-1). Frederik Andersen gave up four goals on 40 shots (see full recap).

Tavares leads Islanders to shutout of Stars
NEW YORK -- Getting a new coach this week didn't change things much for the Islanders -- and oddly enough, that's a good thing for New York.

John Tavares narrowly missed out on his second hat trick in a week, Thomas Greiss got his second straight shutout and the Islanders beat the Dallas Stars 3-0 on Thursday night in their first game since firing longtime coach Jack Capuano.

New York canned Capuano in the middle of his seventh season Tuesday, replacing him on an interim basis with Doug Weight (see full recap).

Niederreiter, Wild dodge letdown, edge Coyotes
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Nino Niederreiter had two power-play goals and an assist, including the go-ahead score for the Minnesota Wild with 7:06 remaining in a 4-3 victory over Arizona on Thursday night after the Coyotes came back from a two-goal deficit.

With Shane Doan in the penalty box for hooking, Niederreiter knocked in a nifty redirect of Mikael Granlund's slap shot for the winner. Devan Dubnyk stopped 20 shots for the Wild, who are 18-2-2 in their last 22 games.

Louis Domingue made 21 saves for the Coyotes, who lost their fourth in a row and fell to 2-12-1 in their last 15 games starting with a 4-1 loss to Minnesota in Arizona on Dec. 17 (see full recap).

End to End: What adjustment would you make on Flyers' defense?

End to End: What adjustment would you make on Flyers' defense?

Throughout the season, we'll ask questions about the Flyers to our resident hockey analysts and see what they have to say.

With the Flyers on their bye week, let’s discuss a few topics.

Going End to End this week are CSNPhilly.com producers/reporters Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone.

Today’s question: What adjustment would you make on the Flyers' defense?

Dougherty
There is not much in Dave Hakstol’s arsenal to significantly improve the team defense with a lineup change. Sure, scratching Andrew MacDonald could be a positive step, but that does not solve the problem here. We can point fingers at the defensive group because the Flyers have allowed the league’s second-most goals at 144. They’re part of the problem.

What is plaguing the Flyers is not just the play of their six defensemen on any given night; it’s their overall team defense. Some forwards are quitting on the backcheck, and not providing enough support in their own zone, missing their own assignments.

The Flyers, I believe, are struggling with the lack of practice time. And while it is true that every team is dealing with the same compact schedule as the Flyers, Hakstol has to maximize the little practice time he gets going forward and preach team defense. Gaps have been a major issue with the current group of blueliners, and that is an area assistant coach Gord Murphy has to fix. Hakstol has singled out the team’s rush defense as an issue, and that’s another area the team has to work on, too.

A lot of the same issues that were appearing in the beginning of the season when the Flyers were struggling are reappearing in their game now. They were able to make adjustments earlier in the season to hone their game defensively. More film study and more coaching are just a couple of the adjustments I’d make with the current options.

Hall
Sometimes it takes a fresh face, some new blood to spark change.

If anything, it sends a bit of a message.

The Flyers have options at AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley and general manager Ron Hextall didn’t rule anything out last Sunday.

But, of course, given the Flyers’ salary cap conundrum, it’s not as simple as just calling up a player.

So, the easiest thing that can be done is change within the current personnel. That means scratching MacDonald from time to time, just how Hakstol has done so with Shayne Gostisbehere, Brandon Manning, Michael Del Zotto, Radko Gudas and many Flyers forwards.

MacDonald hasn’t been as bad as some may think. Oftentimes, his mistakes are magnified more than others. But too frequently do we see him out of position or misreading a play on a goal against. And that’s been true for all Flyers defensemen, yet MacDonald seems to be one of the only spared of the consequences.

Benching MacDonald isn’t a drastic fix and it may not do much at all, but it’s something we haven’t seen since Nov. 19.

Paone
This a really tough question because, to be quite frank, there is no easy solution here to fixing a Flyers defense that has been mired in a state of miserable play and has played a large part in the team's allowing 3.50 goals per game in the 14 contests since the 10-game win streak ended in mid-December. 

It's not like Hakstol or Hextall can push some magic button here and have things fixed in a matter of moments. The Flyers have salary cap and roster issues, so it's going to be tough to bring in a player via trade to help fix things on the back end. Same goes for bringing up a prospect because space on the roster would have to be made first.

This situation leaves the Flyers to fix the problem from within with the defensemen they currently have at the NHL level. They're going to have to play their way out of this. And that's why I'm interested in focusing on the younger defensemen like Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov right now. We know what the veteran defensemen on this team are and they've been through this sort of thing before. This will not be the last team-wide rut the younger defensemen will play through in their careers. It will happen again. They're going to have to learn how to play through this and not let it affect their individual play. That's why I didn't agree with Ghost's benching in Boston last weekend.  Sure, he has not played well this season and the warts to his game have been evident. And there are times when sitting back, taking a breather and watching can be beneficial. But I'm a believer that a young player has to play through his growing pains and grow from them.

This isn't going to be an answer most of you will like to hear, but with the way the Flyers' hands are tied, they're just going to have to play their way out of these defensive struggles with what they have.