Flyers call up Oliver Lauridsen to bolster depleted defense

Braydon Coburn (left), battling against the Rangers, was the latest defenseman to go down.
Braydon Coburn (left), battling against the Rangers, was the latest defenseman to go down. (BRUCE BENNETT / Getty Images)
Posted: March 31, 2013

The Flyers' blue line got a little greener on Friday.

As in inexperienced.

The Flyers, their playoff hopes flickering, recalled 6-foot-6, 220-pound defenseman Oliver Lauridsen from the Phantoms, and he is expected to make his NHL debut Saturday afternoon against visiting Boston.

The scouting report on the lefthanded-shooting Lauridsen: a physical, stay-at-home defenseman with a knack for blocking shots.

"For a big guy, he's got really good foot speed," assistant coach Kevin McCarthy said after Friday's practice in Voorhees. "That's one of his assets - his skating. He's got the ability to keep gaps good, and he's got a physical part to his game and kills penalties. He's going to bring some physical size and some enthusiasm."

The Flyers are thin on defense because of injuries to Nick Grossmann, Andrej Meszaros, and Braydon Coburn in a six-day period.

As a result, Saturday's lineup is expected to include Lauridsen, Erik Gustafsson, and Kurtis Foster, defensemen who have played a combined 28 NHL games this year. The rest of the defense is Kimmo Timonen, Luke Schenn, and Bruno Gervais.

"It's a challenge, but it gives guys a chance to step up and get more ice time," Gervais said. He had been paired with Coburn in the last few games. "We have to keep it simple and work on our chemistry really quick by talking. Talking will be the big key."

At Adirondack, Gustafsson was teammates with Lauridsen, a Denmark native who was not at the Flyers' practice Friday.

"He blocks shots all the time. Good strong stick, a long stick. Not a lot of guys can get around him," Gustafsson said. "Kind of like Grossmann in a sense."

Lauridsen, who turned 24 on Sunday, had six points in 59 games with the Phantoms this season. He was promoted over Andreas Lilja, who has played 576 NHL games.

McCarthy said Lauridsen is "the guy they felt was going to give us the best chance to win hockey games."

Since he's playing in his first NHL game, "I'm sure he'll be fired up and bring a lot of new energy to the room," winger Scott Hartnell said.

The Flyers have lost four straight, including a 4-3 shootout defeat to the Islanders on Thursday.

In that game, the Islanders scored two goals that deflected off Flyers defensemen.

"It's been a crazy year. Maybe we should sacrifice a lamb. Maybe we need a magic dance or something. We've been so unlucky," said the good-natured Gervais, whose team is six points out of the eighth playoff spot in the East.

The Isles' last goal in regulation bounced off Gervais' calf "just enough to get past" goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, Gervais said with a shrug.

"I tried to block the shot. I saw the puck coming at me and opened my leg to block it," he said. "I guess my goalkeeper skills weren't sharp."

Breakaways. In the last three games, the Flyers are 4 for 4 on the power play. For the season, they have climbed to No. 1 in the NHL with a 24.2 percent success rate on the power play. The Flyers will face a Boston team that has the NHL's top penalty kill (91.2 percent). . . . The Flyers will unveil a statue of Bobby Clarke and Bernie Parent outside Xfinity Live at 11 a.m. Saturday. . . . Coburn was crunched into the boards by the Islanders' Matt Martin on Thursday and suffered a separated left shoulder. He is out indefinitely. Grossmann is listed as day to day with an upper-body injury, while Meszaros is set for surgery Tuesday to repair a torn rotator cuff of his left shoulder. He is out indefinitely. . . . Danny Briere remains out indefinitely with a concussion.

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