Olympic Q&A: Timonen: 'It's going to feel special'

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Olympic Q&A: Timonen: 'It's going to feel special'

This is the second day of the men’s Olympic hockey competition in Sochi, Russia.

It’s a far busier day, with four games involving three Flyers -– Kimmo Timonen (Finland), Michael Raffl (Austria) and Andrej Meszaros (Slovakia).

Austria will be hard pressed to defeat Team Finland as Raffl and Timonen face each other head-to-head. Slovakia and Russia might be more evenly matched than expected.

Here’s what the Timonen had to say before heading to Russia.

Q: Kimmo, your situation is very different. Been there, done that. But you’ve been injured. Do you temper that with the excitement of going over?

Timonen: It’s been in the back of my mind. I got to get healthy first ... I wanted to get back in the lineup and get my skating legs back up to where they should be because it’s a bigger ice surface over there. I want to feel I am right in my head, too.

Q: It's the fifth Olympics for you. What feels different?

Timonen: The first is always the first and it was a while ago. We had seven defensemen go and now I am in the top pair. It’s different. It’s always a great honor to put that jersey on and now I know it’s my last time. Special meaning for me, for sure.

Q: What are your expectations?

Timonen: I want to play well. Win the gold. That’s the only way we should be going in there. I have a bronze and silver, but I am still missing the gold. We lost 2-1 in Turin to Sweden [for the gold]. It stayed with me for a while. Nothing you can do about it. I have a chance now and there’s really good countries and players. Everyone has a chance.

Q: Kimmo, how can the Olympics help you the rest of the season, career? Jakub Voracek thought it could really make a difference being his first time, but you’re an older veteran.

Timonen: I don’t know if it is going to help me. For someone like Jake, you make the team, it’s your first time over there and you play with confidence. It’s all about your confidence level. Jake going there his first time, he is really looking forward to it. He can build his confidence up from there coming back.

Q: Kimmo, five Olympics is rare. Your teammate, Teemu Selanne, this will be his sixth. How special will this be for you?

Timonen: My last year, it will be. You don’t want to go there if you are hurt. You won’t do well if you’re hurt. It’s a big ice surface, you have to skate a lot and it you are not 100 percent, at my age of almost 39, you can’t go over there playing half effort. That’s why I wanted a game or two [before] to make sure I am good to go.

Q: Will you get time to take a minute and take it all in, one last time?

Timonen: Every time you put the jersey on it’s a great honor, but this time it’s special. This time, it’s my last time and it’s going to feel special. It will be a tight schedule. You can only focus on games. It’s kind of sad, you don’t get to see all the events because of the tight schedule. You try to soak it in.

Flyers GM Ron Hextall on trade deadline: 'We're not buying'

Flyers GM Ron Hextall on trade deadline: 'We're not buying'

PITTSBURGH – When asked Friday night at Heinz Field whether the Flyers would be buyers or sellers at next Wednesday’s NHL trade deadline, Ron Hextall didn’t flinch.
 
He was adamant he won’t be a buyer. He also intimated he’s looking to sell and that these next two games before the deadline could impact that decision.
 
“We’ll see,” Hextall said. “We’re not buying. I’ve said that for a while now. We’re not buying. We’ll see where we’re at in a couple days. Like I said, tomorrow’s a big game. I have ideas and we’ll execute them depending.
 
“We’ll be making calls and getting calls and we’ll see what’s out there and see where we’re at as a team in the standings and make the appropriate moves.”
 
The Flyers also play Colorado on Tuesday, the day before the deadline.

“It could have some effect, it could,” Hextall said on whether the next two games will impact his decision making at the deadline. “We’ll watch the standings closely and what we’re doing tomorrow night.”

Hextall made his comments Friday night while the Flyers practiced on the outdoor ice at Heinz Field for Saturday’s Stadium Series game against the Penguins.
 
The most obvious candidates for the Flyers to move at the deadline are defensemen Mark Streit and Michael Del Zotto and goalie Michal Neuvirth.
 
More than 10 NHL clubs have been scouting the Flyers regularly over the past month, home and away.
 
Hextall has been saying for months he doesn’t like to make decisions based on “small samples.”  Yet the Flyers have been very inconsistent the entire season, save for a 10-game win streak between November and mid-December.
 
They are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games. Of those seven losses, they have scored one or no goals six times. What does that say?
 
“It tells me we have to be more consistent,” Hextall replied. “It tells me what we’re capable of and at times we’re not playing anywhere near to that level. That’s been frustrating.
 
“I like our team. We’ve got some good players, but the consistency part, we have to level that out for sure, especially from now to the end of the year.”
 
Some NHL clubs – Pittsburgh last season and Chicago this season – have promoted scores of younger players onto their roster. The Flyers promoted Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny this season.
 
Why not promote some players from the Phantoms right now?

“Not to make us a worse team,” Hextall said. “If we make something happen and if we can bring someone up and we take a lateral move, yeah, that’s kind of where you want to get to.

“That’s why you don’t want to bring kids up, 20-year-olds that aren’t ready to play. You mentioned Pitt there, their guys that helped them last year are all 23 now except for the goalie. Keep that in mind. They were kids, but 23-year-old kids.”

The Phantoms are having a good season. They could go far in the AHL playoffs. Hextall said that wouldn’t prevent him from bringing players up, even if it hurt the Phantoms’ chances.

“Is it a factor? I guess at the bottom,” Hextall said. “My job is to do what’s best for the Flyers. Part of what’s best for the Flyers is having the best team down there that we can have to grow kids in a winning environment.
 
“That’s part of it. I wouldn’t not bring a kid up that’s ready to play because he’d be leaving the Phantoms, assuming you have a roster spot and cap space and the things that come along with that.”
 
Loose pucks
Jordan Weal (concussion symptoms) could play Saturday Hextall said. ... Konecny (ankle and knee) is ahead of schedule and could be back in four weeks or less instead of six weeks. He skated at least four times this week on his own.

Flyers clash with Penguins in cheapest outdoor game this season

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Flyers clash with Penguins in cheapest outdoor game this season

Editor's note: The following is sponsored content written by TicketIQ.

Attending this year’s Stadium Series game won’t come at much of a cost for fans at Heinz Field.

With the Penguins set to host the Flyers in the 68,000-plus seat stadium on Saturday, tickets are the cheapest of all three outdoor games this season. On TicketIQ, CSN Philly’s official ticketing partner, Penguins vs. Flyers Stadium Series tickets now average $202.

Saturday’s game is considerably cheaper than the Centennial Classic and Winter Classic, which were held in Toronto and St. Louis last month, respectively. The Winter Classic between the Blues and Blackhawks averaged a $632 ticket while the Maple Leafs and Red Wings’ Centennial Classic posted a $299 average.

As it stands now, this weekend’s game owns the third lowest average for a Stadium Series game in the last four years, trumped only by a 2016 game between the Wild and Blackhawks at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, which owned an overall average of $160. It is the cheapest two-day-out average that any game has posted, however, inching past a 2015 game between the Sharks and Kings ($203) for that title.

Only a 2014 Stadium Series game at Yankee Stadium between the Rangers and Islanders owned a lower get-in price ($45) two days out than Saturday’s game at Heinz Field. Penguins vs. Flyers tickets currently start from $67 each in the 500 sections.

The Flyers will play in their first Stadium Series game since the format was created in 2014. It will be their third overall outdoor game after 2010’s Winter Classic at Fenway Park and 2012’s Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park.

The game comes at a crucial time for the Flyers, who remain on the cusp of a playoff spot in a crowded Eastern Conference. As of Thursday afternoon, they sit just three points removed from the second wild-card spot. Some pushing and shoving will occur over the next two months, however, as several other teams fight for that last playoff berth.

The Penguins play host to their second outdoor game at Heinz Field following 2011’s Winter Classic against the Capitals. It will be the reigning Stanley Cup champions’ fourth outdoor game since 2008. They enter Saturday owners of the second seed in the Metropolitan division behind the league-best Capitals with 82 points in tow.