Tag Archives: Matt Walker

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.

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.

Matt Walker Clears Waivers

2 Dec

The Flyers can exhale. They won’t have to pay another team for Matt Walker’s services. The 31-year-old defenseman cleared re-entry waivers on Friday and is eligible to play in Anaheim against the Ducks.

Walker hasn’t been effective in three games with the Flyers this season, having only one hit and 16 penalty minutes. But the Flyers had only six healthy defensemen on their roster, so they needed an extra guy around seeing as how Chris Pronger, Erik Gustafsson and Andreas Lilja are all on the shelf.

It’s unclear whether Walker will actually be in the lineup on Friday, but his call-up could mean that the Flyers don’t need to make a trade or signing to acquire another blueliner in the interim.

In 10 games with the Adirondack Phantoms this season, Walker has one goal and one assist.

Walker On Re-Entry Waivers, McCabe Mum On Intentions

1 Dec

Help might be on the way for the Flyers one way or another. The team put Matt Walker on re-entry waivers on Thursday. In three games with the Flyers, he has one hit and 16 penalty minutes. In 10 games with the Phantoms, he has a goal and an assist. His hefty $1.7 million salary was one of the reasons the Flyers couldn’t afford to keep him on their big-league roster and waived him on Nov. 1.

If another team picks him up, it would only be for half price, or $850,000. The Flyers would be responsible for picking up the tab on the other half and it would also count against the salary cap. It would also count for the remainder of his contract which has one more year left after this season.

The move could mean a number of things. Most pressing is that the team is on the road out west with only six healthy defensemen. That’s dangerous. Two of the blueliners have a combined six games experience. Again with the danger. It could also mean that the Flyers tried to find a trade partner and failed. Paul Holmgren noted on Tuesday that there are others in the league looking for help at that position.

“People I that I talk to, it seems like everybody is looking for a defenseman now,” said Holmgren, “not looking to trade one.”

Mum’s The Word On Bryan McCabe

The Flyers don’t have to necessarily go for a trade, they could look to free agents. Veteran Bryan McCabe is still without a job. The 36-year-old 6-foot-2 blueliner last played for the Florida Panthers and New York Rangers last season. He had a combined seven goals and 21 assists in 67 games.

Some have linked his name to the Flyers, but his agent told Philly Sports Daily he wouldn’t comment on whether the Flyers have reached out to him and said “there isn’t much to talk about,” when asked about what his client’s intentions are of playing in the NHL again or where he would want to play.

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.

Second Period, Sloppy Play Dooms Flyers In Montreal

26 Oct

Sure, they’ve had some bad luck with bounces, but the Flyers missed too many opportunities in the second period and played too sloppily defensively. They dropped a 5-1 decision on the road to the Montreal Canadiens.

The Flyers opened the scoring when Jaromir Jagr scored his third goal in two games, but that was where the offense ended. The play was made by Scott Hartnell who still had control of the puck as he was taken to the ice. He still managed to get a pass off to Matt Carle. Carle found an open Jagr with a cross-ice pass and the 39-year-old one-timed it past Carey Price for the 1-0 lead.

Throughout the first period, the Flyers has possession and tremendous offensive pressure, but Price was up to the task. In the waning moments of the opening period, the Flyers took a penalty for too many men on the ice and with 2.6 seconds remaining, a Yannick Weber slapshot from the point found its way past a heavily screened Ilya Bryzgalov.

Had they repeated their effort in the second period, the Flyers may have found a different fate. Instead, they missed many opportunities on the power play with Josh Gorges in the box and couldn’t cash in. Wayne Simmonds and Claude Giroux each had golden opportunities in the second stanza.

At 10:46 of the second period, Bryzgalov was beaten a second time down low when a shot deflected in front and went in off the skate of Andrei Kostitsyn, who was allowed to camp out in front of the crease, and beat the goalie through the five hole. The goal was reviewed since it went off Kostitsyn’s skate, but the play stood as called when it was determined that he did not make a kicking motion.

Montreal poured it on when a P.K. Subban shot deflected off a body in front of Bryzgalov and the puck went right to Max Pacioretty who was open on the right wing and shot into an empty net as Bryzgalov had already committed to the initial shot.

The teams began the third period 4-on-4 and Danny Briere sprung James van Riemsdyk for a breakaway, but Price denied him. That was as close as the Flyers would come to beating Montreal again.

Any comeback hopes were dashed only 3:16 into the final period when Pacioretty struck again, getting three shots in on Bryzgalov before scoring the goal. Matt Walker tried to get a glove on the initial shot, which came off a faceoff, and whiffed. He also was unable to clear the porch in front of his goalie.

Bryzgalov got little help in that sense on the night. The Flyers shuffled their defensive pairings in Chris Pronger’s absence. Braydon Coburn, Andrej Meszaros, Kimmo Timonen and Matt Carle were each north of 20:00 in ice time.

Mike Cammalleri added a slam-dunk goal as he was wide open in the slot and beat Bryzgalov on a one-timer from David Desharnais at 15:36.

Bryzgalov has now allowed 14 goals in his last three games and remains unable to defeat Montreal. He has not won in four tries against the Canadiens. The only other team he hasn’t been able to solve is the New York Islanders whom he has faced twice.

Flyers Split On Visor Issue

25 Oct

VOORHEES, N.J. — Each member of the team held his breath as Chris Pronger screamed in horror. Although the Flyers say he will be out two weeks with an injury to the outside of his right eye, there is no guarantee.

Two years ago, Ian Laperriere’s career was ruined when he took a puck to the face. Pronger is lucky not to have met similar fate when the stick of Toronto’s Mikhail Grabovski struck him in he face.

“I think anytime somebody sees an injury to the face, especially when you know it’s that area, the first thought is ‘I hope his eyes are alright,’” said Peter Laviolette. “Certainly when he got up and off the ice the way he did and the manner in which he did, I think everybody got a pit in their stomach. It’s good that the news is good and we just need him to get rested, get back, get healthy.”

The Flyers coach used to play and he didn’t wear a visor. The only time he had one on was when he was recovering from a hit around the eye or a broken nose. Even today, he said he would “probably not” wear one. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t think they are useful though.

“Certainly they save a lot of injuries and possible eye injuries,” said Laviolette. “Some guys have been in the league a long time and I don’t think you’re gonna get a lot of them to change. Young players all coming in have them. They’re there for a reason.

“I think when people are older, they make decisions on their own, but I’ve got two boys playing youth hockey. I’m glad their faces are covered, as a parent.”

Pronger, Max Talbot, Andreas Lilja, Wayne Simmonds, Jody Shelley and Matt Walker are the only Flyers not to wear the shield. The reasons why seem to vary.

“I’m not comfortable with it,” said Walker. “I’ve never been a fan of it. It’s a personal choice; some guys have obviously worn them their whole life and are fine with them.”

He too wore the visor when injured, although he also had to wear it in juniors as all players do.

“I think it should be up to the player,” said Walker. “It’s a personal thing. It’s a safety thing, but I think it’s got to be our choice. I don’t think it’s something that should be mandatory.”

For other guys, it’s a matter of the vision. Lilja for example has trouble with the bottom edge of the visor. It affects his sightlines and where he sees the puck.

“I tried a bunch of times. I want to wear a visor but I can’t. I can’t see in it,” said Lilja who will see increased minutes with Pronger out of the lineup. “I don’t know if it’s just me, but I tried it. Every year I try it once for a couple weeks in the summer and see if I can handle it but I can’t get over it.”

However, if the technology changes, Lilja would consider trying it again.

“Yeah, of course. I’m not dumb,” said Lilja. “If I can wear a visor and see just the way I do now, I would wear it for sure.”

Some guys, like Talbot, don’t wear it because of their scrappy style of play, but understand those that do so they don’t get hit like Pronger did.

“Obviously, accidents happen,” said Talbot. “It’s unfortunate. It’s never fun to see a teammate or basically anybody in the league go down like that, but it happens. That’s the risk of our business.”