Gustafsson will play on trip; Richards says club must 'rally'

  SUNRISE, Fla. _ Defenseman Erik Gustafsson, recalled from Adirondack because of an injury to Chris Pronger, will be used during the Flyers' three-game road trip, coach Peter Laviolette said after Tuesday's practice.

   Laviolette hinted that Gustafsson will play Thursday in Atlanta and Satrurday in Dallas.

   No word on whether he will replace Nick Boynton or Sean O'Donnell, the two most likely candidates.

     Gustafsson, 22, an undrafted free agent who was signed a year ago, impressed the Flyers in the one game he played for them this season, and he has been the Phantoms' top defenseman.

    Captain Mike Richards on Pronger, who could miss the last 14 regular-season games: "He's obviously a guy we're going to miss, but, I've said this all year, our strength is our depth, and we're comfortable putting anyone on the ice at any time."

    Losing Pronger for three or four weeks will "be tough. He's a leader and a guy who logs lots of minutes, but we've had success with our depth all year and this isn't going to be any different," Richards said.

     Will someone have to replace Pronger's fiery leadership?

      "It's probably a situation where we'll have to get by without it," Richards said. "We don't want anyone to do anything they're uncomfortable with doing, or step outside themselves. It's one of those things where he's going to be missed. Obviously, when a star player is out of your lineup, it's a big thing, but hopefully we can rally with it and other people will step up."

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     Pronger's surgery on his right hand was successful on Tuesday, the Flyers said. The time frame for his return _ three to four weeks _ has not changed.

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    Brian Boucher (16-8-2) will be in goal Tuesday against lowly Florida. The Flyers have a one-point lead over surging Washington in the East. The Flyers have led the conference since Jan. 8.

    Rookie Sergei Bobrovsky (25-11-5) has won just two of his last seven starts.

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     The Flyers signed 6-foot-6, 230-pound defenseman Oliver Lauridsen to an entry-level contaract for next season. A Denmark natiive, he was their seventh-round draft pick in 2009 and recently completed his junior year at St. Cloud State, the alma mater of Andreas Nodl.

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