Saturday, February 16, 2013

Gustafsson up, Lilja down 2/16

The Philadelphia Flyers and Adirondack Phantoms on Saturday swapped a pair of defensemen.

The Flyers called up Erik Gustafsson from the Phantoms and sent Andreas Lilja to Adirondack.

Flyers associate captain Kimmo Timonen did not play the third period of Philadelphia's 5-3 loss to New Jersey last night after suffering a lower-body injury. He is a game-time decision for tonight's game at Montreal. However, the fact that Lilja was sent down indicates to me that this is less about Timonen's injury and more about giving Gustafsson another shot in the National Hockey League.

He was noticeably rusty after a fractured tibia kept him out of the line-up for six weeks, going a minus-six in his first two games back, but has started to return to the form that made him an AHL all-star during his 2011 rookie season. He has four points in six February games, and Adirondack was shut out in two of the games in which he was scoreless. Collectively, he has 18 points in 32 games.

His minus-12 plus-minus rating might scare a couple of people -- but keep in mind that half of that came right after he returned to the line-up after six weeks off. Gustafsson is a minus-six in his other 30 games, and that's one of the better totals on an Adirondack team with a minus-21 goal differential.

Lilja figures to be the logical replacement for Gustafsson in Adirondack's line-up, but the Phantoms could also opt to put Jeff Dimmen back in. He was strong in key situations through December and January, getting into the line-up in large part due to Gustafsson's injury, but was scratched once Gustafsson returned. Then Matt Konan got the flu and Dimmen returned for two games, getting a point in each, but  Dimmen was bumped from the line-up when Konan was healthy again.

Dimmen and Konan both participated in an optional morning skate today. We'll know more in a bit.
EDIT: Dimmen and Lilja are in, Konan is the scratch on defense. Scott Munroe and Alex Stalock between the pipes. Full lines for both teams are below. Mostly the same for Adirondack.

F: Kearns-Matsumoto-Tarasov
D: Irwin-Tennyson
G: Stalock

F: Sim-Roe-Akeson
D: Manning-Eddy
G: Munroe

Referees: Tim Mayer, Jean Hebert. Jim Harper, Glen Cooke.

More after the game.
-- MC


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