Meszaros solid in final game before Olympics

Meszaros solid in final game before Olympics
February 9, 2014, 9:00 am
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Andrej Meszaros had an assist and was plus-2 in the Flyers' 2-1 win over the Flames on Saturday. (AP)

In the final game before the Olympic break, a surprise lineup change.

Flyers coach Craig Berube started Andrej Meszaros, who had been scratched once Kimmo Timonen returned, over Erik Gustafsson, who was plus-5 on the West Coast trip and played well against Colorado earlier in the week.

Meszaros, who is headed to Sochi to play for Slovakia, responded with an assist and was plus-2 during the Flyers' 2-1 win over Calgary on Saturday (see story).

“It feels good,” he said. “It wasn’t a pretty game but we got the two points. Now we can think about the break and the Olympics and move forward.”

At Friday’s practice, Gustafsson worked with Hal Gill, but Berube said not to read anything into that. Gustafsson also said he expected to play today.

While it would appear as though Berube was doing Meszaros a favor to get him some skating in before he heads to the Olympics, that wasn’t the case.

“I had planned on splitting them the last two games [before the break],” Berube said. “I played Gus and then Mes.”

Meszaros had sat out four of the last eight games.

“I want to be in the lineup all the time, but it’s not my decision,” he said. “It is what it is. I’m glad I got a chance to play before I leave for the Olympics.”

Gustafsson is better with the puck. Meszaros is the more physical player without the puck. Berube felt he needed more physical play Saturday than Gustafsson’s skating ability.

Barring a trade -- the Flyers are carrying eight defensemen -- it’s entirely possible this is the way it will go the remainder of the season in terms of alternating these two defensemen.

“He’s improved throughout the year from the injuries and stuff,” Berube said of Meszaros. "Coming back and playing he wasn’t himself but he’s pretty much back to form now and playing aggressive.

“He’s up the ice and does some good things offensively for us. And he’s been a good pro being in and out of the lineup. That’s just the way it is right now and will work itself out eventually.”

Meszaros still hasn’t packed for Sochi. He'll leave this morning from Newark.

“I got lots of time,” he said after Saturday's win. “It’s only 4 o’clock. “I’ll pack tonight, a few things. I won’t bring much. We’ll have lots of stuff over there.”