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X-Factor: Lecavalier adds punch to Flyers' fourth line

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 8:32 AM / News
By Adam Kimelman  - NHL.com
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X-Factor: Lecavalier adds punch to Flyers\' fourth line
A shift back to center for Vincent Lecavalier also meant dropping to the fourth line, but the first-year Philadelphia Flyers veteran has handled the move with aplomb and made the lineup more balanced as a result.


In his 15 NHL seasons, Vincent Lecavalier has crafted an impressive resume, one which includes a Rocket Richard Trophy, a Stanley Cup and appearances in four NHL All-Star Games.

Those accomplishments came playing center, generally on his team's top line. Yet, in his first season with the Philadelphia Flyers, he was spending significant time at left wing on the second line. It wasn't a natural fit for Lecavalier.

"If you'd ask me what position I'd want to play, obviously I'd say center," he said March 18.

On March 28, he got his wish, to a degree. He was back at center, but on the fourth line.

It was a seismic blow to a player of Lecavalier's stature. But rather than sulk, he used it as motivation to spark his best play of the season. While the shift down the lineup cut into his ice time, he remains a viable threat at full strength or on the power play and will stay play a big role in the Flyers' quest to bring the Stanley Cup to Philadelphia for the first time since 1975.

"I think a lot of guys can follow that," teammate Wayne Simmonds said of Lecavalier's reaction to the move. "He has played a long time in this League and he's a role model to all of us."

Lecavalier's first season in Philadelphia has been a trying one. He missed time with facial injuries sustained in a fight in November, and missed three weeks in December recovering from a non-displaced fracture in his lower back. The back injury appeared to sap some of the jump from his legs, and playing in an unfamiliar spot certainly wasn't helping.

In his first 59 games he had 15 goals, but five of them came in his first eight games. He hadn't scored a goal in six games when coach Craig Berube shifted Lecavalier to the fourth line for a game March 28 against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Playing with Adam Hall and Zac Rinaldo wasn't quite like when he played on a line with Claude Giroux earlier in the season, but something was different in Lecavalier's game. The jump had returned and he was aggressive in the offensive zone. He opened the scoring against the Maple Leafs on his first night on the fourth line with a power-play goal that sparked Philadelphia to a 4-2 win, and two nights later, against the Boston Bruins, he scored two goals, including the 400th of his career.

Lecavalier remains a steady part of the second power-play unit, and Berube also has used him in spot duty higher up in the lineup when the Flyers have needed an extra jolt.

The Flyers have seven 20-goal scorers, and with one on the fourth line it makes their dangerous offense even more difficult to handle.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Giroux 82 28 58 7 86
J. Voracek 82 23 39 11 62
W. Simmonds 82 29 31 -4 60
S. Hartnell 78 20 32 11 52
M. Streit 82 10 34 3 44
B. Schenn 82 20 21 0 41
M. Read 75 22 18 -4 40
S. Couturier 82 13 26 1 39
V. Lecavalier 69 20 17 -16 37
K. Timonen 77 6 29 5 35
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 33 18 7 .917 2.50
R. Emery 9 12 2 .903 2.96
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