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Gustafsson replaces Gill for Flyers in Game 6

by Adam Kimelman

PHILADELPHIA -- For the second straight game the Philadelphia Flyers will have a new defenseman in the lineup.

Erik Gustafsson will replace Hal Gill when the Flyers face the New York Rangers on Tuesday in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference First Round series (7:30 p.m. ET; RDS, TSN, NBCSN, MSG, CSN-PH). The Rangers lead the best-of-7 series 3-2.

"I like his speed," coach Craig Berube said of Gustafsson. "He's a quick player up ice. ... Just looking at that aspect of it."

Gustafsson played 31 regular-season games, but only four in April. However, this is a familiar situation for the 25-year-old. In the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs he didn't play until Game 5 of the first round against the Pittsburgh Penguins, which was a potential elimination game.

"I think I just kept it simple, moved my feet, moved the puck," Gustafsson said of what he learned two years ago. "That's my game and that's what I need to do."

Gustafsson brings speed and younger legs to the lineup. He and 24-year-old Luke Schenn are the only Flyers defenseman younger than 27. In Philadelphia's 4-2 loss in Game 5 they had three defensemen 36 or older, including the 39-year-old Gill.

"I need to move my feet, move the puck, get up the ice, have good gaps and stay close to their forwards," Gustafsson said. "Confidence-wise I feel good. I'm excited. It's going to be fun to go out and play."

That confidence permeated the Flyers' locker room, despite their series deficit.

"We're excited," captain Claude Giroux said. "It's Game 6 at home. We've got a chance to go back to New York. If you're not excited for that ... that's why you play hockey, for moments like this. It's exciting. Fans are going to love it. It's going to be a good game."

The goal for the Flyers is being aggressive while not succumbing to the tension that comes with playing with your season on the line.

"I think we can't play a safe game," forward Scott Hartnell said. "We have to play the system, play smart. We have to lay it all out there on the ice. Have to be fast on the forecheck, fast on reloads. Fast closing on their skill plays in the corners defensively. If we play a sound, fast, hard game we're going to put this to Game 7."

The Flyers are no strangers to adversity, and that's something they believe can drive them to force Game 7 Wednesday in New York (7 p.m. ET; TSN2, NBCSN, RDSI, CSN-PH, MSG.)

"We know that when we are under pressure we play our best hockey," forward Jakub Voracek said. "It doesn't get better than this, 3-2 down in your home building, trying to force a Game 7. That's a lot of pressure on us. I'm sure we're going to do good.

"There's a lot of character in this room and I'm sure we'll force a Game 7."

Here are the projected lineups:


Rick Nash - Derek Stepan - Martin St. Louis

Benoit Pouliot - Derick Brassard - Mats Zuccarello

Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - J.T. Miller

Dominic Moore - Brian Boyle - Derek Dorsett

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Marc Staal - Anton Stralman

John Moore - Kevin Klein

Henrik Lundqvist

Cam Talbot

Scratched: Jesper Fast, Daniel Carcillo, Raphael Diaz, Justin Falk, Ryan Haggerty

Injured: Chris Kreider (hand)


Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek

Brayden Schenn - Vincent Lecavalier - Wayne Simmonds

Jason Akeson - Sean Couturier - Matt Read

Zac Rinaldo - Michael Raffl - Adam Hall

Kimmo Timonen - Braydon Coburn

Mark Streit - Erik Gustafsson

Andrew MacDonald - Luke Schenn

Steve Mason

Ray Emery

Scratched: Jay Rosehill, Tye McGinn, Hal Gill

Injured: Steve Downie (upper body), Nicklas Grossmann (lower body)


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