ST. PAUL, Minn. – When Vinny Lecavalier scored the lone goal in the Flyers shootout victory in Nashville the other night, he skated into the zone methodically, almost too slowly, before roofing a shot over Marek Marazec’s glove and into the net.
The assumption was that it was a savvy, veteran move by a savvy, veteran player against a rookie goalie – lulling him to sleep before snapping off a quick wrister.
It was a good story at the time, but now we need to let the facts get in the way of it.
The reason Vinny was skating so slowly had nothing to do with deking the goalie, but rather far more to do with the back spasms he started suffering in the third period.
Since then, he’s rested, but they haven’t gotten any better, and now, as a result, he will miss tonight’s game against Minnesota.
General manager Paul Holmgren said Lecavalier is day-to-day and hopes that he will be able to play Wednesday in Detroit.
For his part, Lecavalier agreed. However, he was still moving about the Flyers locker room a bit gingerly, making the hope that he can play 48 hours hence optimistic.
Losing Vinny has caused coach Craig Berube to shuffle his lines slightly. Brayden Schenn moves back to center and Michael Raffl moves up from the fourth line to play left wing with Schenn and Wayne Simmonds.
Jay Rosehill, who was a healthy scratch in Nashville, will be re-inserted into the lineup on the fourth line with Zac Rinaldo and Adam Hall.
Also, the second power play unit will now feature Sean Couturier’s line (Matt Read, Steve Downie) along with Brayden Schenn and Mark Streit.
Andrej Meszaros could also see some time at the point in place of Read depending on the situation, Berube said.
“We lose a very good centerman, but Brayden Schenn… it’s a good opportunity for him to slide in there,” Berube said. He’s played center pretty much his whole life. But there are some dynamics that could change on the power play and stuff like that.”
As for Meszaros, the Flyers will look to use him a bit more after a good game in Nashville. There has been an organizational belief that Meszaros can – and should – be a better player than he’s been, as evidenced by the fact that he won the Barry Ashbee Trophy as the team’s top defenseman two seasons ago.
Since then he has, admittedly, been riddled with injuries, but now that he’s healthy, he should be playing at that 2011 level again.
Maybe the game against Nashville could be a catalyst for him.
There are no other changes from the Nashville game with the exception of Ray Emery getting the start in goal in place of Steve Mason.
Emery has a history of being staunch between the pipes against the Wild with a 4-0-1 record against them and a 2.32 goals against average in five starts.
Meanwhile, Mason is 4-6-1 career vs. Minnesota with a 2.79 GAA.
“That plays into it often,” Berube said. “But we have a plan in place [for the goalies] and we try to follow it as best we can. At times, it’ll change here and there, but for the most part we try to follow that plan.”
And the plan is, of course, to win, as the Flyers will try to make it three consecutive victories for just the third time this season.
And if they do win, and the New York Rangers lose in regulation and the New Jersey Devils also lose (regulation, overtime or shootout), then the Flyers would officially move into a playoff position for the first time this season.
Something tells me that here, in the first game in December, this is going to be a note that is pointed out with regularity for the next few months.
But then again, that’s why we follow it all season, right?
To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @InsideTheFlyers