Meszaros replaces Gustafsson on Flyers defense

Posted: October 30, 2013

Unhappy with Erik Gustafsson's play Saturday, Flyers coach Craig Berube is making a change on the blue line for Tuesday's game against the Anaheim Ducks at the Wells Fargo Center.

Gustafsson is out. Andrej Meszaros (remember him?) is in.

"Last game was a little bit of a down game for him," Berube said after Monday's practice in Voorhees. "Other than that, he's been pretty good. I didn't like his last game as much, but I also want to get Mez in there, too. He's been out a little bit and needs to play."

Meszaros, who is being paid $5.5 million (with a $4 million salary-cap hit), has been a healthy scratch the last five games. The Flyers have some depth on defense and may be showcasing the veteran.

Gustafsson had an assist in Saturday's 5-2 win over the New York Islanders, but he had a late icing call that could have been costly while the Flyers were shooting at an empty net.

"I made a couple mistakes that led to a few chances for them. Not really on top of my game with passes on the tape," Gustafsson said. "Not my best game. Not terrible, either, but you can always get better. I'm just going to keep working until I get my next shot and try to be better than I was."

Berube is making the players accountable for their play. Gustafsson called it a "great thing. He keeps the team and the practices competitive. That makes us get the most out of our players and our team. If that's what it takes to win games, I am all for it."

In five games, Gustafsson has a goal and two assists and is "even" in the plus/minus ratings.

Meszaros said his benching was "tough for me. I was only a one-time healthy scratch [when he played for Tampa Bay], and this was five games. It was hard. I worked hard in practice and tried to stay in shape. Just have to wait for my opportunity and prove to everybody I can play."

In five games, Meszaros has no points and an "even" rating. The Flyers are 1-4 in that span.

"I could have played better, but obviously we weren't winning and something had to be changed," he said.

While most of the focus has been on the Flyers' anemic offense, the defense has played well. The Flyers have allowed the fewest goals in the Metropolitan Division, and goalie Steve Mason has been superb.

Among NHL goalies who had played at least five games entering Monday, Mason was eighth in the 30-team league with a .930 save percentage, and his 2.15 goals-against average placed him ninth.

Mason, 25, who can become a restricted free agent after the season, and the Flyers (3-7) will be severely challenged by Anaheim (9-3), a team averaging 3.17 goals per game, the NHL's seventh-best attack. Both teams are looking for their third straight victories.

Breakaways. Anaheim defenseman Luca Sbisa, the Flyers' first-round draft pick in 2008, has not played this season because of an ankle injury. . . . Corey Perry leads the Ducks in goals (six) and points (13). . . . The Flyers are 1-1-1 against the Ducks in games at the Wells Fargo Center since 2002.


scarchidi@phillynews.com

@BroadStBull

|
|
|
|
|