Vincent Lecavalier seemed upset when he found himself paired up with Zac Rinaldo and Adam Hall on the fourth line during Philadelphia’s Friday morning skate, but the move worked in last night’s 4-2 victory over Toronto.
Flyers coach Craig Berube was very pleased with Lecavalier’s line and the 33-year-old forward, who also shifted from the wing to center, admitted that he felt more comfortable playing up the middle.
“I have to give credit to my teammates,” Lecavalier said, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. “We were close (to scoring) a few times.”
As a line they didn’t find the back of the net, but Lecavalier scored on a one-timer during Philadelphia’s first power play of the game:
“I didn’t even see the shot,” teammate Wayne Simmonds remarked. “Normally I have time to get to the front of the net. I wasn’t even halfway there. It was in and out before I even got there, so it was an unbelievable shot.”
Like Berube, Simmonds was impressed with how well Lecavalier responded to his assignment as the team’s fourth-line center.
It remains to be seen if Lecavalier’s strong performance will lead to the lines getting shaken up again, but either way, if Berube’s goal was to spark him, then it looks like he succeeded.
It looks like the Philadelphia Flyers will have a $22.5-million fourth-liner tonight at home versus Toronto. Vincent Lecavalier was skating between wingers Zac Rinaldo and Adam Hall this morning, two days after going minus-2 and playing just 12:44 in a 3-1 loss to the Rangers.
Tye McGinn is expected to take Lecavalier’s place playing the left side with Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds.
A couple of tweets to add fuel to the fire:
Lecavalier has 15 goals and 15 assists in 59 games, his 0.51 points per game ranking him seventh on the Flyers.
While plus-minus can often be misleading as a statistic, it may be telling in the case of Lecavalier. The 33-year-old’s minus-16 is the worst on the team, and that’s while starting a high percentage of his shifts in the offensive zone.
The day after he partook in Philly’s 5-0 shellacking of Detroit, Chris Vande Velde has been placed on waivers.
The move is reportedly to clear roster space for Zac Rinaldo, set to return on Thursday in Anaheim after missing the last 10 games with a high ankle sprain.
Vande Velde, 26, signed a one-year pact with the Flyers in December and went on to appear in 17 games, registering one assist while averaging close to eight minutes a game. He was used primarily as a fourth-line, penalty-killing center, though Adam Hall’s superior faceoff ability limited some of the situations Vande Velde could be used in.
As for Rinaldo, he suffered the ankle sprain on Jan. 9, but has recovered faster than the original six-week timetable provided by Flyers GM Paul Holmgren.
The injury came at a time when the agitating forward had firmly established himself as a regular presence in the Philly lineup, as Rinaldo was one of just nine players to appear in Philly’s first 44 games of the year.
The 23-year-old led the Flyers with 101 penalty minutes and 135 hits at the time of his injury, averaging 7:30 of ice-time per-game.
Philadelphia has recalled Tye McGinn from AHL Adirondack to replace Zac Rinaldo on the active roster.
McGinn, 23, has six goals and 12 points in 28 games with the Phantoms this year, and three goals in six games with the Flyers (at the time of his first demotion back to Adirondack, McGinn was actually leading Philly in scoring.)
He’ll likely slot into the lineup ASAP as Rinaldo, who was one of just nine Flyers to play in the first 44 games of the season, is out six weeks with a high ankle sprain. The ailment landed Rinaldo on IR alongside fellow forward Matt Read, currently sidelined with a concussion.
Philly doesn’t play again until a Saturday matinee at home against Tampa Bay. McGinn took Friday line rushes on the club’s fourth unit with Chris VandeVelde and Adam Hall, splitting time with Jay Rosehill.
The Flyers’ penalty kill got caught out of position a couple of times during Friday’s 3-2 shootout loss in Winnipeg. However, what happened versus the Jets doesn’t mean we’ll see a more patient or cautious approach should Philadelphia go shorthanded versus Ottawa tonight.
“That’s part of the point of being the penalty killers — you want to get pressure, not let them have ice, not let them set up and make plays,” Flyers forward Matt Read said, per CSN Philly. “You want to keep them to the outside and try to be on them as quick as you can. As soon as there is a fumbled puck, get on them and try to create pressure.”
The first Jets’ power-play goal, by Dustin Byfuglien, was mostly a matter of getting caught on a poor line change.
On the second goal, also by Byfuglien, Flyers forward Adam Hall may have been guilty of over-pursuing the puck-carrier, opening up the big shot from the point.
“[Hall] was close, but not close enough there,” said Philly head coach Craig Berube. “Sometimes that’s just the way it goes on the penalty kill.”
Overall, the Flyers’ PK has been decent, ranking 13th in the NHL (83.1%). It’s the power play that’s been their biggest special-teams problem. Even after scoring four times with the man advantage in the last three games, the unit still ranks a lowly 24th (13.9%).