VINNY THE WILD CARD
PHILADELPHIA – When Vinny Lecavalier took to the ice for the morning skate prior to Game 3 of the Flyers First Round match up with New York, he was back at a familiar spot – second line center.
How long he stays there, remains to be seen, as Lecavalier has been bounced around the Flyers lineup all season, playing on all four lines and playing both as a center and as a wing.
Early in the season, it seemed like the Flyers couldn’t find a good fit for Lecavalier. Now, it seems like he has a unique role – and one that works best for the Flyers.
Lecavalier is a bit of a wild card. He can play in multiple spots in the lineup and serve as a player who can cause matchup problems for the opposition.
The thing is, he is only going to play as Berube sees fit – which in Game 1 was a little more than seven minutes and in Game 2 was a little more than nine minutes.
Those numbers are probably a little lower than Berube would like – and mostly because of all the penalty killing that the Flyers have had to do through the first two games – but at the same time, it’s allowed Berube to try and get Lecavalier on the ice in mismatch situations.
“I liked what I saw in the third period with Vinny with [Brayden] Schenn and [Wayne] Simmonds,” said Berube, who reunited the line at the end of Game 2. “They played together before and they looked good to me.
“They need to be a hard forechecking line and they need to win battles down low. They’re three big guys that can get in there and control the game down low. That’s what they need to do.”
And they’ll be given the opportunity to do so tonight when the teams clash to break the series tie. And if they work well together, it’s a good bet Berube will keep them together. If not, he can always juggle it again, something Lecavalier has grown more accustomed to in the past month of the season.
“Wherever they put me I’m just going to go out and play my best at that position,” Lecavalier said. “I was getting on the ice more in Game 2 and the more you get on the ice the more you get comfortable in your role. It doesn’t matter if I’m playing with [Adam Hall] and [Zac Rinaldo] or up with [Schenn] and [Simmonds] it’s just about getting into a rhythm in the game and when you don’t play much it’s tough to get into that rhythm.
“I believe in myself and I have confidence that when I go out there in whatever role that I’m going to play the best I can to help the team.”
In his limited time, Lecavalier has looked good. He set up Jason Akeson’s goal in Game 2 with his blast from the point and he drew the delayed penalty that allowed Luke Schenn to jump up in the play and score the eventual game-winner.
He has had just 29 shifts in the two games so far, but with Berube able to make the last change on home ice, it’s probably a safe bet to see that average of 14.5 per game increase in the next two games.
“It feels good to be back [with Schenn and Simmonds],” Lecavalier said. “[Berube] wants the line to play the way we should play. We need to play defensively but at the same time get some chances and play in their zone as much as possible. We have a lot of size and we need to use it – and our speed as well.”
NOTES: The Flyers are collecting a game puck after each playoff win and posting them to a board in the locker room. There is a space for 16 pucks and there is a picture of the Stanley Cup behind the 16 spaces. Currently there is one puck glued to the board… Steve Mason was a full participant in the morning skate. Berube said Mason was "Better." The team released an update listing him as day-to-day. Also on the injury update was Steve Downie, who is listed as out indefinitely … When asked if he had a solution for Claude Giroux to get more shots on goal after going with out one in the first two games, Berube had a one word answer: "Shoot," he said... The Flyers unveiled their first “Orange Crush” T-shirt that are going to be handed out to fans attending the game. The shirts read #ClutchTime around a Flyers logo.
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