29.9% Ryan Parent;
29.6% Ossi Vaananen
|08/09 Regular Season||77||3||40||43||19||54||24:31||4:04||4:39||164||48||30|
What else can be said about Kimmo Timonen that hasn't already been said? He is quietly one of the best defensemen in the NHL and has been for quite some time. In Nashville, he didn't get much attention and now that he's in Philadelphia, it seems as if everyone just expects him to be as good as he is. Even this past year, people were talking about how he "only" scored three goals. But that is not a fair critique of his offensive production, nor is it a reflection of his contribution to the team. In my piece about Jay Bouwmeester a few weeks ago, I explained how exactly half of Kimmo's assists were primary assists and how he took only 104 shots. It is likely that these numbers were the result of Kimmo having teammates who are able to deflect his shots into the net and/or his ability to draw defenders toward him, allowing him to find the open man. With the Flyers 9th in power play goals, 6th in power play percentage, and 4th in goals scored on the year, why people choose to focus on Timonen's goals and not his overall contributions just appears petty.
What should be focused on is Timonen's overall game. He once again led Flyers defensemen in points, plus/minus, and blocked shots (ranking 12th league-wide), and only failed to lead the team in ice time by a mere 6 seconds per game. He did this all while playing against the second-highest quality of competition - first place was his partner, Ryan Parent. Across 60 minutes, Kimmo gave up 2.42 goals. While that was only average on the team, it was also less than both Braydon Coburn and Jeff Carter. The only players with fewer goals allowed per 60 minutes, who also played against above average competition, were Mike Richards, Simon Gagne, and Mike Knuble - and Kimmo faced stronger competition than them (0.06 to 0.05, 0.02, and 0.04 respectively). Also of note, Timonen's partner - Parent - had the worst goals against per 60 minutes than anybody on the team. Imagine what Timonen's GA/60 will look like if he's paired with Chris Pronger and Braydon Coburn nearly 60% of the time instead of Parent and Vaananen.
The only thing that is even remotely troubling about Kimmo's season is the amount of giveaways. Despite having the fewest of any defenseman playing at least 50 games, he averaged 0.623 giveaways per contest. Those numbers would hardly be a weakness in anybody's game, but if there's something Timonen can improve upon, this is it. While not a big concern, other defensemen around the league are better with the puck. Chris Pronger had a 0.536 turnover per game ratio. As an extreme example, Johnny Oduya had 0.366 per game. So, is it a small complaint? Yes. Is it his biggest and most easily corrected weakness? Also yes. With the Flyers struggles breaking out of their own zone last year, this could go a long way toward a smoother transition game. Coburn (0.738), Carle (0.737), Parent (0.806) and Jones (1.000) being more careful with the puck could only help too.
Looking ahead, the Flyers defense is an area of strength. With the addition of Chris Pronger, the Flyers will have what Anaheim had the past few seasons: Two of the best defensemen in the game on the same team.
After the jump, enjoy a few talkies.
Up next in our Grading the Flyers series: Scott Hartnell