The Flyers have gone back to their well of defensemen and pulled out Erik Gustafsson
to play in Game 5 against the Penguins on Friday. Nicklas Grossmann
did not make the trip to Pittsburgh, so Gustafsson said he will appear in his first career Stanley Cup Playoff game.
The Flyers lead the series 3-1.
Grossmann was injured early in Game 4 on Wednesday. The team has labeled his injury as an upper-body injury.
"I think you just have to stay focused and visualize yourself doing good things on the ice," Gustafsson, who played in 30 regular-season games, told NHL.com. "Once I get out there I'm just going to try to keep it simple, don't make any mistakes. Once you get into the game, it's like any other game."
While the Flyers have not provided specifics about the injury, center Claude Giroux
on Friday morning intimated that Grossman has a concussion.
When asked about Grossmann and the challenge of playing without him in the lineup, Giroux referred to his own concussion and said "it's all about your health."
"I had a concussion this year and it's just the worst," he continued. "You can't really do anything. You basically sit on your couch and you can't even watch TV because it messes up with your mind. It's not fun. We hope he gets better soon."
Grossmann joins a long list of Flyers' defensemen that are not here with the team. Chris Pronger
(concussion) highlights the list, but Andrej Meszaros
(back) and Marc-Andre Bourdon
(upper-body) are also out.
However, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette
said he's proud of the way his team has handled the injury situations this season and he expects them to respond in a positive manner again Friday.
"The fact that we've lost another defenseman, it's hard to take; but in saying that, our team is filled this spot all year long," Laviolette said. "We have close to 450 man-games lost to injury this year. This isn't something new to us. We'd much rather have Grossmann in there or any of the defensemen you listed, but that's not an option for us. We have to play good team defense and the players that come into the lineup will be expected to play well."
The Flyers have lost 437 man games to injury, but that number includes season-long injuries to Blair Betts
and Ian Laperriere
Laviolette said he has confidence in Gustafsson because the Swedish defenseman has earned his spot in the lineup with his play. He suited up for 30 games in the regular season and had five points and a plus-12 rating while averaging close to 17 minutes of ice time per game.
"He's a player that got sent back to the minors a couple of times, but it wasn't based on performance, it was based on numbers and being allowed to only dress six defensemen," Laviolette said. "I think he's had a good year. He had one tough injury, but short of that he's done a good job of playing at this level. The minutes he's played, they've increased over time. He's had games where he's played 18, 20, 22 minutes and he's done a good job for us. We have a lot of confidence in Gus and the way he plays the game."
The key, though, will be how the Flyers utilize their defense against Evgeni Malkin
. Grossman was paired with Braydon Coburn
and together they were on the ice a lot against Malkin and his line. Malkin had no goals in the series until he scored two in Game 4.
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma
credited the Coburn-Grossmann pair for limiting Malkin at even strength even though most of the credit for that has gone to Flyers rookie center Sean Couturier
"They've done a good job of having Grossmann and Coburn play in defensive situations," Bylsma said. "That was really a factor here at home. It wasn't having the Couturier line against Malkin, they really had Coburn and Grossmann on the ice in those situations. Without that matchup for them, if that's the case, there may be some circumstances where you try to have that in your favor given the last change."
Coburn pretty much disregarded the question when asked about the challenge of playing without Grossmann.
"Every game is a challenge," he said. "They've got world-class talent out there. We've got to find a way to win."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl