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.

Radko Gudas shooting pucks, 'pretty close' to 100 percent

Radko Gudas shooting pucks, 'pretty close' to 100 percent

VOORHEES, N.J. — Injured Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas is getting closer to returning to game action.

Gudas, recovering from a fractured right wrist (his shooting hand), has been cleared to shoot pucks for the past couple of days and was shooting and hitting in practice Wednesday at Flyers Skate Zone. He has yet to play in a preseason game but said he’s “pretty close” to 100 percent.
 
“I can’t say it’s really 100 percent, but it’s getting there soon,” Gudas said following practice.
 
“There’s a lot of time for me to get in top, game-like shape. There’s not a chance I would miss the start of the season.”
 
Gudas said the most important aspect of the healing process is keeping his wrist stable by wearing a brace to limit too much movement.
 
“It’s better. I’m shooting on it in practice — feels better every day,” he said. “I’m working on a lot of it every day with the strength guys and the doctors here. We’re going day to day, I’m seeing myself sooner than later jumping on the ice.”
 
The second-year Flyer would like to play in preseason games before the start of the regular season but also understands the importance of not rushing to avoid costing him regular-season games.
 
“That’s the main part — feeling pain-free,” Gudas said. “Throughout the season, there’s not a lot of time off so we need to make sure everything is the best it can be before the season starts.
 
“Obviously it’s going to be the coaches’ decision when to put me in. I’m sure they’re talking with the staff for when would be the proper time.”
 
The 26-year-old Gudas signed a four-year contract extension in June after playing a career-high 76 games and recording 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 2015-16.
 
After practice, Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol did not have an update on Gudas or defenseman Nick Schultz, who was shaken up Tuesday night.
 
“Everybody wants to play at least a game or two before the season,” Gudas said. “I don’t think it needs to be said.
 
“He wants to have me ready and I want to be ready.”

Flyers Notes: Ivan Provorov not in ‘younger’ lineup; Travis Konecny gets chance with NHLers

Flyers Notes: Ivan Provorov not in ‘younger’ lineup; Travis Konecny gets chance with NHLers

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers’ morning skate Wednesday came with youthful flavor.
 
Ivan Provorov was no part of it.
 
The 19-year-old was with the big-boy contingent on the opposite ice, a group of mostly NHL players that will not play in tonight’s preseason game against the Devils at the PPL Center, home of AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.
 
Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said a younger lineup is set for the team’s fourth preseason game.
 
“Every game is a little different,” Hakstol said. “[Tuesday] night we had a more veteran group dress, so not only are we looking at individual performances but we would expect to see a little more of our structure come into play. Tonight’s roster is a little more younger, so we’re still obviously looking to build some of the concept and some of the systems and detail.”
 
Provorov, the Flyers’ prized blue-line prospect and No. 1 roster hopeful of training camp, was featured in the NHL-heavy lineup Tuesday night, playing 21:43 with key minutes on the power play and penalty kill. This followed a night of 28:48 ice time in the Flyers’ split-squad preseason opener Monday.
 
So it was highly unlikely Provorov would play Wednesday, but the fact he was saved for a veteran-laden game instead of a prospect-filled one is telling.
 
Then again, Provorov is far from your typical 19-year-old hockey player.
 
“Right from day one, I think we’ve all saw that early,” Hakstol said. “A year ago, the focus, the ability to be detailed and to handle himself like a pro, albeit a young pro. Ivan has a great level of maturity to him.”
 
Provorov has done his work thus far. It’s his time to watch for a game.
 
“You look for him to be able to go out and do things consistently and efficiently,” Hakstol said. “I think for the most part, Ivan was able to do that [Tuesday] night.
 
Konecny with Schenn, Raffl
While one 19-year-old sits, another gets his chance.
 
Although prospect Travis Konecny — also looking to make the NHL jump — did not play Tuesday, he’ll still have a chance to open eyes with NHL forwards tonight.
 
The talented winger will be paired with Brayden Schenn and Michael Raffl, both of whom were clearly especially selected to play tonight with Konecny.
 
“They see the ice real well, I’ve just got to move my feet and get in the good areas and I’m sure they’re going to find the spots,” Konecny said. “I’m going to try to not do too much tonight and just let the game kind of take care of itself — and take care of the little things I can control.”
 
The 24th overall pick of the 2015 draft amassed 101 points at the junior level last season. Putting NHL talent around him should only help and it serves as an amplified audition of sorts.
 
“It gives him an opportunity to play with two veteran players,” Hakstol said. “Travis is no different than anyone else, just go out and play his game. Every player, it’s one of the challenges coming into camp, to go out and make an impression. Every player needs to do that from Day 1. We’re getting into our fourth exhibition game here now, so it’s an opportunity for Travis to go out and play the way he plays. He has an opportunity to do that with two veteran players.”
 
Konecny, 5-foot-10 with speed and skill, is keeping things simple in his second NHL camp.
 
“I think this year I’m trying to approach it and play the game the right way,” he said. “Last year, I came in excited and I had my feet going, my energy, but I was kind of all over the place. I’m trying to follow the system and play the right way this year.
 
“My first game a couple days ago, it was quick pace, I wasn’t really expecting it — it’s been a long time since I was in that kind of speed. So I think tonight’s game I’ll be a little more relaxed and ready to go.”

Roster moves
The Flyers on Wednesday assigned Mark Dekanich, Chris McCarthy, Maxim Lamarche, Martin Ouellette, Jesper Pettersson, Steve Swavely and Kevin Sundher to Lehigh Valley, which opens its training camp Friday. The Flyers' roster now stands at 49.
 
Loose pucks
Other NHLers expected to play tonight: Defenseman Brandon Manning and center Boyd Gordon. “Boyd has had a good camp,” Hakstol said. “He got in game action the first time [Tuesday]. As you’d expect, he did a real good job within his role of starting with faceoffs and the responsible style of play he has.” … Alex Lyon and Anthony Stolarz will be the goalies. Both will compete for starting time with the Phantoms this season.