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Flyers defenseman Gustafsson eager to rejoin lineup

by Louie Korac

ST. LOUIS -- Erik Gustafsson had to dust the cobwebs off his equipment Tuesday morning. The Philadelphia Flyers defenseman hasn't been in the lineup for more than a month.

Because of an upper-body injury to defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who took a puck off the face and will miss the game Tuesday against the Western Conference-leading St. Louis Blues (50-17-7), Gustafsson will be inserted into the Flyers' lineup (39-27-8) for the first time since Feb. 27.

Gustafsson, who has two goals and 10 points in 27 games, is anxious to play rather than feeling bad about not being part of the mix in recent weeks.

"I don't look at it like that at all. I look at it that it's going to be a lot of fun tonight," Gustafsson said. "… You don't want to be on the other side. It's not easy, especially mentally to stay ready, but that's part of the business we're in and I'm happy for the chance I get tonight.

"When I play good, I think I'm a good defenseman in this League. I just need to find consistency moving the puck all the time and moving my feet. Just keep those two things in mind and that will go a long way."

Flyers coach Craig Berube doesn't want any more than what Gustafsson, who was a minus-2 in 21:26 of ice time in a 7-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Feb. 27, can bring.

"Just normal play from him," Berube said. "He's got to be a good defender first of all, move the puck. Gus does that. If he moves his feet, he'll be fine.

"Looking back on the whole year, he's had some real, real good games. There's times where he didn't play as good or didn't move the puck as well. I don't think I'm looking for more than what he's capable of doing. He's a puck-mover and he moves well and I think Gus defends well. I think our 'D' has been pretty healthy and stuff; a lot of times he was just the odd man out."

Berube said Timonen, who has five goals and 32 points in 71 games, could have played but he chose to give the 39-year-old some rest.

"I think he'll be fine," Berube said. "He could have probably came and played, but I think it's important too that he's rested and feeling good. He's an older guy. He'll be ready."

Tuesday will mark the Flyers' first visit to St. Louis since Oct. 9, 2010, a 2-1 overtime victory for the Blues.

Both teams have plenty to play for. Philadelphia is jockeying with the New York Rangers for home-ice advantage in a potential first-round matchup in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Blues are one point ahead of the Anaheim Ducks with a game in hand for the Western Conference's top seed. St. Louis trails the Boston Bruins by three points (110-107) for the Presidents' Trophy lead.

Here are the projected lineups for the Flyers and Blues:


Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek

Tye McGinn - Brayden Schenn - Wayne Simmonds

Matt Read - Sean Couturier - Michael Raffl

Zac Rinaldo - Vincent Lecavalier - Adam Hall

Luke Schenn - Erik Gustafsson

Braydon Coburn - Nicklas Grossmann

Andrew MacDonald - Mark Streit

Ray Emery

Steve Mason

Scratched: Hal Gill, Jay Rosehill

Injured: Kimmo Timonen (upper body), Steve Downie (upper body)


Alexander Steen - David Backes - T.J. Oshie

Brenden Morrow - Vladimir Sobotka - Jaden Schwartz

Steve Ott - Patrik Berglund - Magnus Paajarvi

Derek Roy - Maxim Lapierre - Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Barret Jackman - Roman Polak

Carlo Colaiacovo - Kevin Shattenkirk

Ryan Miller

Brian Elliott

Scratched: Ian Cole, Chris Porter, Dmitrij Jaskin

Injured: Jordan Leopold (ankle), Vladimir Tarasenko (thumb)

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