Better With Popcorn

Defense Update: Coburn extended; Pronger in; Gus out

It's a good day to be a Flyers defenseman, unless you're named Erik Gustaffson.

Braydon Coburn got the pay day he has been waiting for from the Flyers, inking a four-year, $18 million extension. Coburn's cap hit will be $4.5 million and $3.2 million this season.

The 26-year-old was acquired in a trade with the Atlanta Thrashers (now Winnipeg Jets) in the 2006-07 season. He became a huge part of the Flyers defense during the second half of the 2007-08 season when paired with Kimmo Timonen, who has been his line mate ever since.

Timonen's influence on the offensive-minded defenseman certainly has had a lasting and positive influence on Coburn. Coburn's growth has made him one of the Flyers top three defeseman, guaranteeing him significant ice time in the closing minutes of games as well as penalty kills and against opposing teams' top lines.

PRONGER RETURNS -- The Flyers will finally have their captain back out on the ice.

Chris Pronger, who has been out for over two weeks since taking a stick to the eye on October 24, will be in the line up tonight. He will be paired with the struggling Matt Carle, who has been playing lost since losing his partner.

Pronger will give the Flyers defense an immediate boost in disciplined play as well as the usual tenacity.

His biggest impact will come at the point during power plays. Pronger is the Flyers "quarterback" on the offensive special teams unit and his presence should hopefully improve the Flyers 11th place 19.1% success rate on the man-advantage.

GUSTAFFSON OUT -- Rookie Erik Gustaffson will not be in tonight's line up against the Lightning due to a wrist injury.

Gustaffson was injured in the Flyers 9-2 rout of the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday. He was a +6 in the game.

The injury is believed to not be serious and he could return for Sunday's game in Florida.

This means Andreas Lilja will be on the ice tonight, paired with Andrej Meszaros on the 3rd pairing.

Tonight's defensive pairings: Pronger/Carle; Coburn/Timonen, Meszaros/Lilja