Whether the Philadelphia Flyers keep going or not after Game 6 on Tuesday, it looks like they’ll be doing so without defenseman Nicklas Grossmann. The hard-hitting defenseman underwent surgery to repair tendon damage in his right ankle on Tuesday and will miss 8-10 weeks.
That timetable essentially ends the 29-year-old’s season barring a remarkable recovery late in what would need to be a deep playoff run for the Flyers.
The big Swede was injured thanks to this awkward fall in Game 4 against the New York Rangers:
Philly originally replaced Grossmann with an even larger defenseman in Hal Gill, but now it looks like Erik Gustafsson will play in his first 2014 postseason game tonight in Gill’s place.
Hal Gill’s Game 5 cameo won’t extend to Game 6, as the Flyers have announced Erik Gustafsson will draw into the lineup tonight to take on the Rangers at Wells Fargo.
Gustafsson, who appeared in 31 regular season contests, hasn’t played at all this postseason (his last game was on Apr. 13), but is being called upon after Gill looked rusty in Sunday’s 4-2 loss. The 39-year-old was minus-2 in just over 12 minutes of ice time and looked a step slow, something Flyers head coach Craig Berube alluded to in explaining why Gustafsson was drawing in.
“I like his speed,” Berube said, per Philly.com. “He’s a quick player getting up ice. Just looking at that aspect of it.”
The Flyers have been forced to dig into their defensive depth with Nicklas Grossmann sidelined since Game 4 of the series. The hope is that Gustafsson can replicate the success he had during the 2012 playoffs, especially in an series-clinching win over Pittsburgh, when he scored a goal and finished plus-3 in over 22 minutes of ice time.
NBC will kick off a doubleheader of playoff hockey this afternoon with the Flyers vs. the Rangers.
Philadelphia finally ended its nine-game losing streak at Madison Square Garden in Game 2, but the Flyers conceded home ice advantage with a 4-1 loss in the following contest. Flyers goaltender Ray Emery was pulled from that game, which led to Steve Mason, who missed the start of the series with an upper-body injury, taking over.
Mason has been very effective against the Rangers in 2013-14, but they feel capable of making life harder for him. It would certainly help if Rangers forward Rick Nash broke out of his goal scoring slump.
While they have Mason back, the Flyers lost defenseman Nicklas Grossmann in Game 4. Hal Gill is expected to fill the void.
The contest will start at 12:00 p.m. ET and can be streamed online:
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Nicklas Grossmann’s early exit from Game 4 with an injury has created an opening on the Flyers defense.
According to reporters at Philly practice this morning, it looks like Hal Gill will take Grossmann’s place for Game 5. Gill was paired with Mark Streit, Grossmann’s usual spot, during practice and is rested and ready to join the fray if called upon.
If Gill plays, as Adam Kimelman of NHL.com shared, it’ll be his first playoff game since May 17, 2012 when he suited up for the Nashville Predators against the Phoenix Coyotes. Gill played in just six games this season.
As for why Gill gets the call, Dave Isaac of the Courier-Post shares Flyers coach Craig Berube’s logic for that decision is that he likes having a puck-moving defenseman with a stay-at-home guy. Gill fits the bill as the latter to the mobile Streit. For that reason, Erik Gustafsson would likely stay as the odd man out.
Game 5 between the Flyers and the New York Rangers is Sunday at noon ET on NBC from Madison Square Garden.
Another day, another Philadelphia Flyers defenseman headed out of the lineup.
The team announced defenseman Erik Gustafsson would miss the next two weeks with a knee sprain. GM Paul Holmgren said he was hurt in the third period of their 6-3 loss at Columbus on Saturday.
Gustafsson has two goals and five assists this season in 20 games and has averaged nearly 17 minutes of ice time per game.
The Flyers were without Niklas Grossmann in their last game as he dealt with the flu and was replaced by Hal Gill in the lineup. Andrej Meszaros was a healthy scratch last game and could draw in if Grossmann isn’t over his illness.
If none of that works, they could call someone like Brandon Manning up from AHL Adirondack. It’s never not interesting in Philadelphia.