BARELY 24 HOURS have passed since the Flyers' official time of death occurred at 9:44 p.m. on Wednesday night in New York. The corpse is still warm; the wounds are still fresh.

Yet, even after just a day after a first-round exit with a long summer of pondering ahead, the most glaring fact from the seven-game series remains the most startling: the Flyers' best defenseman was . . . drumroll, please . . . Luke Schenn.

That is not a knock on Schenn, one of the hardest-working Flyers. He was calm, consistent and played better in bigger moments down the stretch than he did through most of the first 50 games of the regular season.

It's just that, well, the Flyers had the highest-priced defense in the NHL.

The Flyers' defense - and not their much bandied-about offense - was the difference in their death struggle with New York. Steve Mason and Ray Emery went above and beyond, stopping far more than should have been required.

Wednesday's Game 7 second period was proof; no one would have faulted Mason if it was 6-0 by the time the buzzer sounded. Scoring chances, in a do-or-die game, were handed out like candy.

When you remove blocked shots, the Flyers gave up 4.4 percent more attempts on net than they produced in the first round. If that doesn't sound like much, two out of the only three teams with a worse percentage (Colorado and Tampa Bay) were also ousted.

And now, the Flyers anxiously await word of Kimmo Timonen's future. Timonen was the Flyers' anchor on the blue line again this season. He won a bronze medal with Finland in Sochi. He saved some of his best hockey of the season, impressively enough, for after the Olympics.

But he will turn 40 next season. His lack of footspeed, obvious against a quicker New York team, was saved only by his hockey sense and positional awareness.

Timonen earned $6 million this year. The little Finnish warrior has banked north of $54 million in his career and now needs to decide whether 1 more year is worth 1 more year missing his children grow up.

Was Wednesday Timonen's last NHL game?

"I hope not," coach Craig Berube said. "He's still a good player . . . He gave everything he had."

Berube hopes not because he knows the Flyers do not currently have the player to replace Timonen on the depth chart. Timonen was not a No. 1 defenseman, but an All-Star caliber No. 2 during his time in Philadelphia.

Judging by the contracts Paul Holmgren handed out recently, including $30 million to Andrew MacDonald last month and $21 million to Mark Streit last summer, the Flyers had a sense Timonen might not be back.

One thing is for certain: If Timonen wants to return, the Flyers will surely take him, but it will have to be for less money. If that is a sticking point, he can retire or go play for his first agent, Jarmo Kekalainen, the general manager in Columbus.

For a so-called team coming of age, this summer needs to be one of transition for the Flyers. Even if Timonen is back, he cannot be their best option. The Flyers have to be willing to give ice time to younger, faster, cheaper players - particularly ones on entry-level deals like NHL-ready Shayne Gostisbehere - to hasten the transition period.

Frankly, the players to help usher the transition haven't exactly panned out. Streit was strong for the second half of the season, earning his money, but he turns 37 next season.

MacDonald, 27, struggled mightily against New York, making many wonder why the Flyers rushed to sign him to his massive deal on the eve of the playoffs. He made $550,000 each of the last three seasons. If offered the same deal today, would he not have taken it? After this last series, the offer would not have been as high.

And what to do with Braydon Coburn? This series was everything that is frustrating about him: tremendous in Game 4; an absolute liability in Games 5-6-7. His play is borderline bipolar, plainly obvious when his physical gifts are neutered by his lack of confidence.