Report: Vinny Lecavalier Back in the Lineup


According to a report from the Courier-Post’s Dave Isaac, Vinny Lecavalier will return to the Flyers lineup tonight since being held out as a healthy scratch for seven straight games. With Lecavalier back in the lineup, what can we expect as Philadelphia hosts the 13-8-8 Florida Panthers?

Where Does Lecavalier Fit?

With a lineup that has generated chemistry in the form of eight points in their last six games, Flyers coach Craig Berube finds himself walking another tightrope. It’s no secret that Lecavalier has struggled playing away from his natural center position, but his eight power play goals from a season ago demonstrates his best attribute for the team.

Despite those facts, the 16-year veteran has struggled in his 16 appearances this season. Heading into his second season in Philadelphia, Lecavalier has battled a slow start that show just six points. And although he has yet to find the back of the net this season on the power play, three of his four assists on the campaign have come via the man advantage.

As decorated as Lecavalier’s career has been, the former Lightning captain has handled his recent benching with nothing but class. The 900-point club member has refused to give into the temptation of becoming a distraction to the team by airing out his grievances, on top of doing everything that’s been asked of him throughout his time away from the lineup.

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“He looks hungry to me,” Berube said per Isaac’s report. “He wants in there and that’s a good sign.

“He’s a good player. We need Vinny and the team to work together to find a place for him here that works.”

The problem, of course, is where does he play? Scott Laughton has since taken the reigns of the second line, depositing his first NHL goal as part of a multi-point effort in Saturday’s demolition of Carolina. And Laughton hasn’t been the only Flyer to see a production increase on that line. Wayne Simmonds has recently padded his team-leading goal tallies with goals in three straight – six in his last six games. Even Brayden Schenn has three multi-point games in his last eight games.

Since Berube plans to keep the second line in tact – as he should – that means Lecavalier will log his minutes flanking the fourth line on the right side. The $4.5 million cap hit will take Chris VandeVelde’s spot in the lineup, skating alongside Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Zac Rinaldo.

Lecavalier will replace Laughton on the power play’s second unit, however. With Laughton flourishing in every aspect of his game, this is likely a move to get Lecavalier further involved since his minutes will presumably be limited in five-on-five play. But as the Flyers sit in seventh place in the Metropolitan Division, a win over the Panthers combined with a Columbus loss will springboard Philly two spots to fifth place.

Vinny and the Cats

Historically speaking, it appears to be the right time to re-acclimate Lecavalier with his teammates. In 83 career regular season games against Florida, the 34-year-old has punished the Cats with 28 goals and 44 assists for 72 points – his highest point total against an Eastern Conference opponent. That also includes his goal in Nov. 14th’s loss in Sunrise, which to date, is his last goal scored.

Should the seasoned veteran struggle once again, though, it’ll be interesting to see how Berube responds. Will the second-year coach make a mid-game adjustment? At 11-14-5, and at home, the Flyers don’t have the luxury of trial and error. They need points, and they need them tonight.