Tag Archives: Erik Gustafsson

With Gustafsson Up, Lilja Top Candidate To Sit

12 Jan

He waited and waited and played five games with the Phantoms. Finally, Erik Gustafsson gets the chance to pick up where he left off. On Nov. 5, his last game with the Flyers, he was a plus-6, played a career-high 23 minutes and got his first NHL point on an assist. Then he missed almost two months of action with a wrist injury.

The Flyers called Gustafsson up on Wednesday and sent Matt Walker down to the AHL. The team has been lacking something on the blue line, not that Walker was part of the problem. He hasn’t been able to crack the lineup.

But Andreas Lilja has and he may be the one, instead of rookie Marc-Andre Bourdon, to sit as a healthy scratch. Lilja has been steadily losing ice time to Bourdon, who continues to improve and has even contributed a couple points. He had a goal in Sunday’s loss to the Senators. He seems unlikely to sit with Gustafsson back in the fold.

Some have wondered if Gustafsson has been at full strength, whether he could even take a slapshot. But he was firing from the point at Citizens Bank Park. He said that he was ready even then, but was trying not to think about a comeback to the NHL.

It was a huge disappointment for Gustafsson to miss time. When he went down injured, he was clearly playing his best hockey at the NHL level.

“It was really frustrating at the start there,” said Gustafsson last Friday. “I tried to put that aside and then when I had to have the surgery I was trying to stay positive. It was for sure really frustrating, but I’m just gonna keep working hard right now. It feels pretty good right now and I hope I get another crack at it.”

He was a plus-2 with two shots on net in the Outdoor Classic against Hershey and wants to get back to his old form. He played another game after the Outdoor Classic and registered an assist. According to Gustafsson, his conditioning was the only thing that wasn’t 100 percent. Now it will be tested at the highest level.

Gustafsson Ready If Flyers Need Him

6 Jan

CITIZENS BANK PARK — If the Flyers so need him, he’s ready. Erik Gustafsson played his fourth game after rehabbing a left wrist injury of his own and Kimmo Timonen’s left wrist injury might give the Flyers good reason to call him up.

But so far, they haven’t told him anything.

“I’ve played four games now,” said Gustafsson. “The first two games were a little rusty to be honest with you. Last game I thought I played pretty well and then [Friday night] I felt pretty good out there with such an exciting event. You get a lot of energy from that and all the boys were playing well. I don’t know if I played well, but it feels good to win.”

The Phantoms won 4-3 in overtime over the Hershey bears in dramatic fashion. They tied the game with 20.8 seconds left when Gustafsson fed Eric Wellwood for a shot from the right wing that eventually found its way to Phantoms captain Ben Holmstrom in the slot. He deposited the puck behind Braden Holtby for his 10th goal of the year.

Then, less than a minute into overtime, Shane Harper scored on a breakaway.

“It’s unbelievable. The crowd was unbelievable,” said Gustafsson. “The atmosphere was great. To be honest with you, this was probably the best win of my life and it felt great. To be part of that, not only the last minute and the way we won it, just with these guys it was a great feeling. I’ll remember this for the rest of my life.”

And in all the excitement, the wrist is only an afterthought. It feels fine and Gustafsson is ready to get back to NHL action. That could happen as soon as Saturday if Timonen can’t go.

“To be honest with you I try to not think about it as much,” said Gustafsson. “If it happens, it happens and I’m ready to go for sure. The wrist holds up really good so if it happens, I’ll be really happy.”

It was a huge disappointment for Gustafsson to miss time. When he went down injured, he was clearly playing his best hockey at the NHL level. On Nov. 5, his last game with the Flyers, he was a plus-6, played a career-high 23 minutes and got his first NHL point on an assist.

“It was really frustrating at the start there,” said Gustafsson. “I tried to put that aside and then when I had to have the surgery I was trying to stay positive. It was for sure really frustrating, but I’m just gonna keep working hard right now. It feels pretty good right now and I hope I get another crack at it.”

He was a plus-2 with two shots on net in the Outdoor Classic against Hershey and wants to get back to his old form. While he says the conditioning might not completely be there, he’s ready for the call. Whenever that may be.

Flyers Place Matt Walker On Waviers…Again

6 Jan

Losing Chris Pronger was bad. Losing Kimmo Timonen might be worse. Timonen is officially day-to-day with an injury to his left wrist, of which the severity is not yet known. He is being checked out by doctors on Friday and likely won’t play Saturday. That means his 223-game ironman streak is probably over.

Even though Matt Walker was paired with Braydon Coburn in practice on Friday in Timonen’s place, he won’t line up with him on Saturday. According to TSN, the Flyers waived Walker Friday afternoon, for the second time this season.

Without Timonen or Walker, the Flyers would be in need of a sixth defenseman and the likely suspect is Erik Gustafsson. Gustafsson has been rehabbing a wrist injury of his own and was close to returning before Timonen went down in Thursday night’s game against Chicago. The current situation on the blue line likely hastened his process a bit.

In five games this season with the Flyers, Gustafsson has an assist and is a plus-6. The Flyers have not yet announced a corresponding roster move.

Gustafsson To Miss Six Weeks

17 Nov

WELLS FARGO CENTER — Just when things were looking up for young defenseman Erik Gustafsson, he now has to face a big setback in his quest to be an everyday NHL defenseman. Gustafsson had surgery on his right wrist Thursday morning and will miss significant time.

“Erik underwent wrist surgery this morning at Methodist Hospital,” said general manager Paul Holmgren in a statement. “The surgery was performed by Dr. Randy Culp. We expect Erik to be out of action for six weeks.”

Gustafsson hasn’t played since the last time the Flyers were playing at Wells Fargo Center. While he played the whole game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, he injured his wrist at some point and was seen having it worked on by Flyers trainer Jim McCrossin.

Last year, Gustafsson played in three games and looked a bit lost. However, over the summer he got bigger and added strength to his game. His improved play was impressing the Flyers until the injury occurred.

“Certainly we’ll miss him,” said Peter Laviolette. “Anytime you remove pieces from your lineup, it takes important positional players out of what they do and what they contribute. It’s tough timing for him because he was playing so well for us at the time of the injury.

“But we haven’t had him for a few games here and we’ve managed and we’ll continue to manage.”

Gustafsson played quite well while Chris Pronger was injured and there was the school of thought that he might stick around even after the captain returned. Now we’ll have to wait another six weeks to find out if that’s the case.

Gustafsson’s Play Demanding Flyers’ Attention

5 Nov

WELLS FARGO CENTER — When Chris Pronger went down with an injury, most people expected a band-aid until the captain could return to action. Instead, Erik Gustafsson has opened some eyes on the blueline. He was good in training camp, but apparently not good enough to keep around to start the year.

Recently he was called up and is playing major minutes.

“Obviously I wanted to show them that they made the wrong decision to send me down,” said Gustafsson. “I’m really happy for the opportunity that I’ve got right now and I’m just gonna try to work as hard as I can to stick up here and we’ll see what happens.”

In his eighth NHL game, Gustafsson got his first NHL point. He was also a plus-6 on the night. Usually plus-minus isn’t a very revealing stat, and is even more of an anomaly in a game as lopsided as the Flyers’ 9-2 victory, but it can expose a player who has made mistakes, especially a defenseman. Yet Gustafsson hasn’t. The rookie defenseman doesn’t look like a rookie.

“You come up here and you play with these big guys that you see on TV all your life, I think it’s normal to get nervous,” said Gustafsson. “The more you get to be around here and the more you play out there, the more comfortable you get. Especially for the type of player I am that wants to make good passes, I think I need to be comfortable out there to make those passes and hold on to the puck that extra second.

“It helps out a lot to be here. Even in the playoffs [last year] when I didn’t play, it just helps out to get more comfortable around the guys.”

Last year, Gustafsson played in three games and looked a bit lost. Apparently the time watching from the press box helped the 22-year-old. He got bigger over the summer and added strength to his game.

“He’s played really well since he’s been called up,” said Peter Laviolette. “He moves the puck so well. I think over the summer he picked up a step in speed, picked up some added muscle and he looks really strong on the ice.”

Because of injury and cap issues, the Flyers had to send Matt Walker down to the Adirondack Phantoms and Andreas Lilja has been the No. 5 defenseman ahead of Gustafsson. But when Pronger does return, the Flyers will be forced to give some serious thought to keeping Gustafsson as a sixth defenseman in lieu of veterans Lilja and Walker.

“I don’t know, you can talk to the coaches about that,” said a laughing Gustafsson. “I mean, I guess I hope so.”

Gustafsson, Rinaldo Recalled From Phantoms

27 Oct

Without Chris Pronger, the Flyers’ defense was bound to struggle. However, in his three games, Matt Walker has been even worse than some might have expected. He played only 7:20 against Montreal on Wednesday and was a minus-1. But he’ll still stay with the Flyers, according to a report from the Delaware County Daily Times.

The Flyers have recalled Zac Rinaldo and Erik Gustafsson from the Adirondack Phantoms, and to make room, they have put Brayden Schenn on long term injured reserve. Schenn has a broken left foot, which makes the call-up for Rinaldo make more sense. Schenn’s $1.69 million cap hit covers the $900,000 that Gustafsson makes in the NHL and Rinaldo’s $544,444 cap hit as well.

In four games this season with the Phantoms, Rinaldo has a goal, an assist and 11 penalty minutes. Gustafsson has played in eight games and has racked up four assists. He is a plus-3 in that span.

The Flyers were trying to mask the loss of Pronger by switching off Walker and Andreas Lilja with the team’s top four defensemen. It is unclear if the Flyers will dress Gustafsson in Thursday night’s game against Winnipeg.

In three games last season with the Flyers, Gustafsson registered no points. He played 16:06 in his NHL debut against Ottawa in February.

Finally, Prospect Camp Will Feature Scrimmage

10 Jul

It’s been four days of drills and a day down the shore for Trial on the Isle, but on Monday the fans will finally get to see what the Flyers’ prospects are capable of in a situation worthy of examination. To this point, it’s only been drills that have shown little as to a player’s development or capabilities.

The prospects will be divided into two teams and will scrimmage for the first time all camp to conclude the nearly week-long festivities.

“The scrimmage will be good,” Brayden Schenn said. “Obviously for us, not many of us have played a real game in two months or so, but it will be about working hard and working on all the skills that we did and it should be a good hard pace out there.”

Schenn will play opposite his roommate for the week, Sean Couturier, as a member of Team Orange. The 19-year-old center will garner a lot of attention, as will his opposing netminder, 6-foot-7 gargantuan Niko Hovinen. The 23-year-old has only played on the smaller North American rinks when competing in the World Juniors tournament while playing for the Finnish national team. Saturday and Sunday served as the limited amount of time he had to get acclimated to the new surroundings.

“I like small rinks,” Hovinen said. “It suits me well.”

Erik Gustafsson will man the blueline for Hovinen and Team Black. The Flyer hopeful has been looking forward to playing the scrimmage just as much as the fans have been begging to watch it.

“I like the scrimmage,” the 22-year-old defenseman said. “It’s a lot of fun. That’s why you play hockey. It’s just to get back to basics and play the game and you never want to lose. Yeah, I understand if they’re waiting for it, because we all are too.”

Below are the full rosters for both teams. According to the Flyers’ schedule, the ice time is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., although it isn’t clear if there will be drills before the scrimmage actually starts.

TEAM ORANGE

TEAM BLACK

36 Zac Rinaldo 58 Shane Harper
72 Nick Cousins 24 Matt Read
61 Kyle Mountain 39 Marcel Noebels
53 Tye McGinn 47 Eric Wellwood
10 Brayden Schenn 14 Sean Couturier
29 Mike Testwuide 58 Michael Parks
52 Andrew Rowe 56 Tyler Brown
42 Jason Akeson 34 Ben Holmstrom
37 Tom Sestito 68 Petr Placek
40 Luke Pither 73 Derek Mathers
65 Colin Suellentrop 54 Nick Luukko
46 Kevin Marshall 27 Erik Gustafsson
38 Oliver Lauridsen 55 Tyler Hostetter
64 Vincent LoVerde 63 Michael Young
57 Ricard Blidstrand 74 Etienne Boutet
62 Adam Phillips
67 Brad Phillips 32 Niko Hovinen
70 Kris Westblom 75 Erik Mihalik
71 Sean Bonar

By these rosters, Brendan Ranford and Marc-Andre Bourdon are both scratches. Ranford left the ice Sunday after a hitting drill with an injury to his right foot. He was walking around after the practice session with a boot.

Bourdon did not take part in drills with the defenseman and watched from the bench. Observers on Saturday said he was laboring during the bag skate.