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Hal Gill primed to replace Grossmann in Game 5
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VOORHEES, N.J. – At one point this season, Hal Gill sat 44 consecutive games.

And never uttered a single complaint.

When Flyers coach Craig Berube rested some of his defensemen at season’s end, he dusted off Gill and paired him with Mark Streit against Pittsburgh and Carolina .

“I was amazed,” Streit said. “He didn’t play for 3-4 months and we played together for two games and I was really impressed how well he played.”

Now the moment of truth.

Gill is expected to replace Nick Grossmann (right knee) Sunday in Game 5 against the Rangers in New York. The Metropolitan Division semifinal series is tied, 2-2.

Grossmann seemed to lose his skate in the corner with the Rangers’ Derrick Brassard during the second period of Game 4 and came down awkwardly on his right knee (see story). He is officially “out” for Game 5.

“This is what I’ve been working to do,” the 39-year-old Gill said. “I’ve had it in my head over and over again. It be nice to have it come to fruition on Sunday. We’ve got a guy banged up. ... If he can’t play, that’s what I’ve been working for.”

Though Berube would not say that Gill was definitely “in,” Gill took all the shifts in practice Saturday at Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J. with Streit.

Erik Gustafsson worked with others.

Also, Berube lauded Gill’s obvious qualifications. Like Grossmann, Gill is big, hits hard and blocks shots.

Gill has the most playoff experience of anyone on the club – 110 games over 16 NHL seasons. He also won a Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh in 2009. Again, he’s the obvious choice.

“Just leadership and his brains,” Berube said when asked what he sees in Gill. “He’s a smart guy out there. He knows how to play. Doesn’t panic. Big body, too, he gets in the way of stuff. ... Experience, he won before, been around and seen a lot of things.”

Gill played only six games the entire regular season. Gustafsson is the quicker defenseman. But the 25-year-old Swede was very inconsistent in 31 games with the Flyers and his confidence level right now coming in cold during a swing game in a playoff series is questionable.

Gill, on the other hand, relishes this kind of situation.

“The more you play in playoffs the more you realize it’s a journey,” Gill said. “It’s ups and downs, not just the whole thing, but during the games, there are momentum swings that change a series. You can’t sit and think about things.

“That is what I enjoy about it, you play for the moment. That one battle in the corner down at your end which leads to a breakout which leads to a goal changes the game, changes the series, changes everything. I don’t want to sound like an NHL slogan, but one play can change everything.”

Which is why Berube has no choice but to play Gill – this is what he’s done over the years in Boston, in Toronto, in Pittsburgh, in Montreal and in Nashville.

Rangers-Flyers is a physical series, too. Gill is built for it.

“It’s a grinding series,” he said. “They flood, they come aggressive, and come hard and they flood an area and you have to be willing to take hits and make plays and move the puck quick.

“That’s the kind of series it has become. Not necessarily pretty, but you have to find ways to get pucks to the net because they blocks a lot of shots. We talk of willing the puck in and finding goals that way.”

The pairing with Streit worked fine a few weeks ago.

“To play with a guy like that, you don’t need real chemistry,” Gill said of Streit. “You get him the puck, let him do his thing and become an option for him.

“I want to back him up if he feels like he can join the rush. It’s not always going to be that way if he feels it. I know I’m one backing him up.”