PITTSBURGH -- The Flyers’ defense will have a new look Friday as they try to finish off the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Consol Energy Center.
Erik Gustafsson is in; Nick Grossmann is out.
Grossmann has a concussion, teammate Claude Giroux confirmed, and he did not make the trip to Pittsburgh.
No matter how long the series lasts, it appears Grossmann - arguably the Flyers’ top defenseman - will not play in it again. Fact is, there are questions about if he will play again in the playoffs this season.
Grossmann took first-period hits from the Tyler Kennedy and Evgeni Malkin in the Flyers’ 10-3 loss to the Penguins on Wednesday. He played sparingly in the second period before sitting out the third period.
Gustafsson, 23, who was plus-12 in 30 games with the Flyers this season, will be making his playoff debut.
“It’s going to be a dream come true,” Gustafsson said after the morning skate Friday. “My first pro playoff game. A little nervous, but mostly I’m excited, so it’s going to be a lot of fun tonight.”
Gustafsson said he did not know who would be his defensive partner.
Grossmann had been on the top D pairing with Braydon Coburn. Coach Peter Laviolette is expected to have Coburn with Kimmo Timonen; they played together a bit on Wednesday.
Gustafsson has spent time with Matt Carle this season, and he could be paired with him Friday. That would leave Andreas Lilja and Pavel Kubina on the third pairing.
Then again, a Carle-Gus pairing would not have much physicality.
If it's me, I pair Carle with Kubina, and Gus with Lilja.
Coach Peter Laviolette said Gustafsson was not demoted to Adirondack this season because of his performance, but because the Flyers had players returning from injuries.
Gustfasson doesn’t think the Flyers’ lopsided loss Wednesday will have a carryover effect.
“We’re just going to hit the reset button,” he said.
Meanwhile, Giroux said he felt badly for Grossmann.
"I've had a concussion and it's the worst," he said. "You're basically sitting on your couch and you can't even watch TV."
Bryz ready. Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov was making snow angels at the morning skate and seemed loose as he prepared to face the Penguins.
“He’s going to be great tonight, I have a feeling,” Giroux said. “He’s focused.”
Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.