Here's your uncomfortable hockey reminder of the week: When the NHL returns and the Philadelphia Flyers take the ice, they're going to have a pretty weak defense.
With Matt Carle gone, the Flyers are going to lean on guys like Braydon Coburn, Nicklas Grossmann and Kimmo Timonen to play even more minutes than they have in the past. They have to fill the hole left by Carle, their ice-time leader amongst defensemen a year ago, and unless Luke Schenn suddenly turns into a legitimate top-four defensemen, filling those minutes will come by committee.
Even at age 37, Kimmo Timonen is the Flyers best defenseman and he'll certainly big a huge part of filling the hole left by Carle. But it's no shock that he's injury-riddled at this stage of his career, and his time on ice has steadily declined over the last several years. Will he be up to the task?
I've been of the opinion that the lockout would help Kimmo in this regard. Less games in a season can only be a good thing for a 37-year-old, right? Well, as it turns out, he doesn't necessarily agree with that line of thinking.
"It won't be that easy," said Timonen, a native of Finland who has been living in South Jersey during the lockout. "That's going to be probably four or five games a week sometimes. That's way less than (the usual) 82 games, but 48 in a short period of time might be even worse for me."
Eeep. Okay, so are Kimmo's fears about a condensed schedule warranted?
The original schedule outlined for 2012-13 would have seen the Flyers begin the year on Oct. 11 and end the year on April 13. That's 82 games in 194 days, or a game every 2.37 days.
Let's assume that a 48-game schedule will start on Jan. 19, the long-assumed day given a week-long training camp following the NHL's implied Jan. 11 drop-dead date. Let's also assume that the April 13 end date to the season stays the same, although that's not necessarily all that certain. That would mean 48 games from Jan. 11 to April 13, or 93 days. That's a game every 1.94 days.
If the NHL were to extend the regular season past April 13 -- say, a week to April 20 -- that would give us a solid, 100-day long season. 48 games in 100 days would be one every 2.08 days. It's still condensed from the typical schedule, but it's a little better.
All things considered, I don't think this means the Flyers will ever be playing five games in a week. Maybe four in an odd week, but all things considered, it's going to be the same typical three games most weeks. And for an old guy like Kimmo Timonen, it's ultimately half a season taken off his mileage. That'd be a positive of the lockout.