The Washington Times - February 24, 2009, 06:33PM

In the words of a friend who works in the Philadelphia market, this could get ugly.

Tonight’s game between the Flyers and Caps has a key story line: the absence of Philadelphia defenseman Kimmo Timonen. Timonen has the flu and will be replaced in the lineup by fellow Finn Ossi Vaananen. Here’s what coach John Stevens had to say about the situation earlier in the day:


“We’ve said all along we like the depth of our team. Vaany’s been working hard to stay ready, and he’ll get a chance to go back in there. And I expect him to play well, give us some size back there. He’s anxious to play, and that’s the reason you wanna have depth on your team - it presents opportunities for a few other guys.”

This is such a big deal because the Flyers have been able to contain Alex Ovechkin with the pairing of Timonen and Braydon Coburn in recent meetings. The flu blug (which has been racing around the Philly locker room in the past few weeks) gives Stevens two options: play Randy Jones and Ryan Parent against Ovechkin or go with Coburn and Matt Carle.

Either way, it could mean a field day for No. 8.

One of the other subjects whenever these two teams meet in the District is the influx of Philadelphia fans. Anecdotally (from walking around Chinatown before the game), it seems like the crowd is 75% Caps, 25% orange and black.

As Caps writer Corey Masisak blogged earlier, Viktor Kozlov skated in Arlington this morning but will not play against the Flyers.

Stay tuned to, as I’ll be blogging tonight’s game.

Here are the starting lineups:

Caps: G Jose Theodore

D Tom Poti-Shaone Morrisonn

F Alexander Semin-Sergei Fedorov-Brooks Laich

Flyers: G Antero Niittymaki

D Randy Jones-Ryan Parent

F Simon Gagne-Mike Richards-Mike Knuble

- Stephen Whyno