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VIN-DICATION

Lecavalier's hat trick guides the Flyers to a 5-2 win over the Islanders

Saturday, 10.26.2013 / 11:11 PM ET / News
By Anthony SanFilippo  - Philadelphia Flyers Inside Reporter
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VIN-DICATION
Vinny Lecavalier doesn\u2019t want to talk about vindication.\r\n\r\nHe doesn\u2019t want to prove anyone wrong or rub anything in anyone\u2019s face.\r\n\r\nYet, he is a competitor. And people that are driven with an edge and are executing at the highest level of their craft will sometimes find ways to use the smallest things as motivation.

UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Vinny Lecavalier doesn’t want to talk about vindication.

He doesn’t want to prove anyone wrong or rub anything in anyone’s face.

Yet, he is a competitor. And people that are driven with an edge and are executing at the highest level of their craft will sometimes find ways to use the smallest things as motivation.

So, after a storied career in Tampa Bay where he hoisted the Stanley Cup and later served as captain, a career that was 15 seasons in the making and had 874 points and counting was suddenly halted when the only franchise he ever knew decided he wasn’t worth their money any longer and paid him to go away.

And no matter how many times he, or anyone else in his position, will publicly declare that its part of the business, the human side of a person hurts. To suddenly be told you don’t belong in the place you call home is a very difficult pill to swallow. It knocks you down, sometimes hard.

But life moves on, not waiting for you to catch up, so it’s imperative that you dust yourself off and try to make things better.

For Lecavalier, that opportunity has come in Philadelphia. And before Saturday, it was an opportunity that was rooted in promise. Promise that at 33-years-old, with the shine seemingly fading from his once-gleaming star, that he could find a little of that old magic dust inside his hockey gloves and make for a nice completion to his noted career.

But that promise was quickly cooling on the backburner. A 1-7 start by the Flyers and an injury that cost Lecavalier three games almost made people forget what could be, what might be, what they hoped for.

Instead, lost in the murkiness of a terrible start, expectations quickly dissipated. The “What-have-you-done-for-me-lately” sort were marching toward the negative extreme.

But Lecavalier knew otherwise. He knew that despite an unexpectedly poor start that patience was key. He knew that if things were going to get better there could be no panic at this disco.

And so Saturday at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, a place that seems to always offer that special elixir to cure any Flyers-related malaise, one game after returning from an undisclosed lower-body injury, Lecavalier emerged from the settled dust and had the kind of performance that is usually reserved for players far from the end of the line.

Which is to say, that Lecavalier is nowhere near cooked, as that buyout may have suggested.

Vinny Lecavalier recorded his first Flyers hat trick, and his seventh in his career. It was his first since 2008, also against the New York Islanders.

In classic Vinny-style, Lecavalier registered the seventh hat trick of his career, spearheading a spirited Flyers effort that resulted in a 5-2 win over the New York Islanders marking the first game this season the Flyers have scored three goals or more in a game and the first time they won back-to-back outings.

His goals came with a bit of flair and panache:

A power play one timer that deflected off a defenseman’s stick and into the net.

A follow up of his own shot batting the rebound out of the air and past the goalie.

And finally, a brilliant individual effort where he laid out to keep a play alive only to get to his feet in time to score on a return pass.

“Overall this was a great confidence booster,” Lecavalier said. “It’s still the beginning of the season and we’re not where we want to be. We have to be happy with tonight. As a line with [Claude Giroux] and [Michael Raffl] we connected. We got to keep it going and keep playing the same way.”

And not just Lecavalier… everyone.

A lot of players put together their best performance of the season – and you could see them skating better, faster and making quicker decisions – all of which has to make coach Craig Berube feel like what he is instituting every day in practice is working.

“They played a solid game without the puck,” Berube said. “To understand that you can still score goals instead of just sitting back and playing defense… I really liked our skating legs tonight. We had a lot of jam left in the third period. Everybody.”

Sean Couturier had perhaps his best game, leading all forwards in ice time (20:03), was the top forward in penalty killing (the Islanders No. 1 ranked power play finished 0-for-4) and won 60 percent of his faceoffs, taking more draws than any other center.

Defenseman who have struggled took positive strides. Kimmo Timonen had a solid game. Luke Schenn looked better, and was rewarded with more ice time. Mark Streit picked up two assists in his return game to Long Island.

Up front, Jake Voracek got his first goal of the season, Michael Raffl earned his first NHL point.

But the player who made it all go, and was better than anyone except his three-goal scoring linemate, was Giroux.

The captain looked so much more like himself. He had good jump. He was creating more offense. He played hard-nosed and determined and finished with his first multi-point game of the season.

“He had a really good game,” Berube said. “I think it had a lot to do with him playing on the penalty kill regularly. He likes doing that. He’s been wanting to do that. I hadn’t really been using him a lot there, but I did tonight. He got more into the game and I think that made a big difference.”

If it was, and if Giroux is on the precipice of breaking out, that can only be seen as a boon for the Flyers.

And if that happens, it could lead to more consistent offense and more consistent winning.

And if that happens, it’ll be more than just Vinny with vindication.

To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email asanfilippo@comcast-spectacor.com or follow him on Twitter @InsideTheFlyers

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HOME
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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - MTL 76 47 21 8 200 169 102
2 x - NYR 74 47 20 7 226 172 101
3 TBL 76 46 23 7 244 198 99
4 PIT 75 41 23 11 207 188 93
5 NYI 76 44 27 5 230 211 93
6 DET 74 40 22 12 216 201 92
7 WSH 75 40 25 10 218 186 90
8 BOS 75 37 25 13 199 195 87
9 OTT 74 37 25 12 216 199 86
10 FLA 75 34 26 15 186 205 83
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 75 31 32 12 167 192 74
14 CAR 74 28 36 10 173 202 66
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 75 20 47 8 144 254 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Voracek 76 21 55 7 76
C. Giroux 75 23 46 2 69
W. Simmonds 75 28 22 -5 50
M. Streit 75 9 36 -10 45
B. Schenn 76 14 25 -7 39
S. Couturier 76 13 17 1 30
M. Del Zotto 58 9 20 -5 29
M. Read 74 7 22 -7 29
M. Raffl 61 20 6 7 26
V. Lecavalier 52 7 11 -10 18
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 15 17 11 .927 2.24
R. Emery 10 10 6 .892 3.15
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