Saying he wanted to go with more speed, Flyers coach Craig Berube is putting defenseman Erik Gustafsson in the lineup Tuesday night for the first time in the playoffs.
Gustafsson will replace veteran Hal Gill, who was ineffective and on the ice for two Rangers goals in New York’s 4-2 win Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
The Flyers have had to make changes because of a lower-body injury suffered by Nick Grossmann in Game 4.
"I'm just going to have fun and enjoy it," said Gustafsson, who had two points and was plus-4 in seven 2012 playoff games, highlighted by a goal and a plus-3 rating in the series-clinching win over the Penguins. "This is why you play hockey. This is the most exciting time of the year. I remember two years ago (in the playoffs), and I still remember it like it was yesterday."
Gustafsson, 25, who led Flyers defensemen with a plus-7 rating in 31 regular-season games, said he was "going to go out there and enjoy the crowd, enjoy the moment."
"I like his speed," coach Craig Berube said after the morning skate. "He's a quick player getting up ice. Just looking at that aspect of it."
The Rangers have a three-games-to-two lead and can clinch the series with a win at the Wells Fargo Center Tuesday.
New York has lost 11 straight games when it has had a series lead, an NHL record according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The Flyers have managed just 24.6 shots per game in the series. That's the lowest average among the 16 playoff teams.
"We've got to do a better job of getting numbers in the offensive zone," Berube said. "Being more aggressive, being more physical, winning more puck battles in that area."
Berube said the Flyers need a much better start; they have been outscored, 7-4, in the first periods, and have allowed the opening goal in four of the five games.
"So far, our first periods have not been great," Berube said. "I don't think we've initiated enough in the first period yet, and we need to.....Our mindset tonight is to come out hard early. and impose our will on them."
Grossmann out for season. Grossmann underwent surgery Tuesday to repair tendon damage in his right ankle and will miss the rest of the playoffs, the Flyers announced.
Emery fuming. Flyers goalie Ray Emery, who is black, is fuming over racist remarks allegedly made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
Emery said he listened to the audio of Sterling's comments. "It was disappointing and distasteful. Pretty racist comments," he said. "....I don't think a person like that has a place in sports."
Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds was just as upset as Emery.
"Make him sell the team, get him out of there," Simmonds said. "Obviously basketball is a predominantly black sport and you have an owner who's voicing his opinion that way when the coach is black and probably a lot of people in the management are."
Emery and Simmonds make their comments before the NBA banned Sterling for life on Tuesday afternoon.
Simmonds, one of a handful of black players in the NHL, joked that he was "kind of a fly in a bucket of milk here."
Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.