Friday, May 9, 2008

Flyers shake up defensive pairings

With Kimmo Timonen likely out for the remainder of the playoffs, the Flyers have to face the reality of playing an offensive juggernaut like the Penguins without their best defensive player. In Timonen's absence, the Flyers have completely re-shuffled their defensive pairs. Derian Hatcher, who has played well recently, will move up to the top pairing with Braydon Coburn, causing every pairing to be altered. Jason Smith will now be paired with Randy Jones and Jaroslav Modry is back in the lineup in the third pairing with Lasse Kukkonen. On the powerplay, Randy Jones expects to get most of the time in Timonen's spot on the top grouping.

Completely changing all of your defensive pairings at this time of the year is usually not a good thing, but in this case it was necessary. There is no getting around the huge void that Timonen leaves on this team. He was the one player that was irreplaceable in an already thin defensive unit. If any one forward goes down, the Flyers have several options that can step right in, but there is no one with the all-around skill level of Timonen that can step into the back six. It will make the series with the Penguins that much harder. It will now be up to the lesser defensemen like Jones and Kukkonen to raise their level of play or the Flyers will find themselves on the golf course very soon.

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