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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 MTL 62 41 16 5 171 135 87
2 NYI 64 41 21 2 205 179 84
3 NYR 61 38 17 6 192 152 82
4 TBL 63 38 19 6 207 167 82
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 61 35 17 9 176 152 79
7 WSH 63 33 20 10 184 159 76
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 62 27 22 13 150 175 67
10 PHI 63 27 25 11 168 183 65
11 OTT 60 27 23 10 171 163 64
12 NJD 63 26 27 10 141 164 62
13 CBJ 61 26 31 4 157 191 56
14 CAR 61 24 30 7 142 162 55
15 TOR 62 25 32 5 170 189 55
16 BUF 63 19 39 5 123 212 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Voracek 63 19 46 5 65
C. Giroux 62 18 41 2 59
W. Simmonds 63 25 18 -1 43
M. Streit 63 8 32 -4 40
B. Schenn 63 12 23 -5 35
S. Couturier 63 12 16 1 28
M. Del Zotto 51 8 17 -5 25
M. Read 63 6 18 -9 24
M. Raffl 48 14 4 6 18
V. Lecavalier 45 7 10 -8 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 12 13 7 .926 2.25
R. Emery 10 10 4 .893 3.15
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