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At the Rink: Devils at Flyers

by Dan Rosen

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Flyers forward Vincent Lecavalier will make his season debut against the New Jersey Devils at Wells Fargo Center on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; MSG, CSN-PH). Lecavalier was a healthy scratch for the Flyers' first eight games.

Lecavalier last played in a game that counted on April 9. He played in four preseason games and scored a goal on five shots. He has 931 points on 411 goals and 520 assists in 1,163 games in his 17-year NHL career.

"I haven't played in a month as well, so tonight I definitely want to play simple," Lecavalier said. "If plays are there, I'll try to make them. You've gotta try to make things happen. I'm not going to chip it in just for the sake of chipping it in. You don't want to play like robots out there."

Lecavalier will start the game as the Flyers' fourth-line left wing playing alongside Ryan White and Chris VandeVelde. Even though the left wing is Lecavalier's strong side, he said it's the position where he is least comfortable.

Asked what is harder for him about playing left wing as opposed to center or right wing, Lecavalier responded, "Just everything.

"Some guys are very comfortable on their [strong] side, I'm very comfortable on my off wing so you can protect it more and cut in the middle when you get in the offensive zone," he continued. "It's going to have to be, honestly, a simple game, going up the ice, and if there is no play to be made chip it in or get a shot on net."

Simple is also the word used by Flyers coach Dave Hakstol when he was asked about what he expects from Lecavalier in his season debut.

"When you haven't been in the lineup for a while, sometimes less is more," Hakstol said. "Just go out, play the game with a clear mind, play hard, and especially early on play a little simpler than you normally would."

Lecavalier said the first month of the season has been difficult for him because he's tried to prepare as if he was playing even though he knew he was really only preparing for the next practice.

"It's not like you can get back out there and kind of improve on what you did in the last practice," Lecavalier said. "That's the toughest part. But I've been working pretty hard. I've tried to work on my skills, keep my skills and keep my speed, things like that, as much as possible. Hopefully I get to play consecutive games and try to get better, try to get in the flow.

"I'm playing hockey to play games, not just practice and watch guys play. I'll try to make the best of it."

The Devils will use 11 forwards and seven defensemen for the second consecutive game. Devils coach John Hynes said he liked the way the lineup looked Tuesday in a 3-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets because of the versatility it gives the Devils and matchup problems it potentially presents to the opponent.

"When you go 11 and seven it allows you to give some more ice time to forwards that maybe either don't play on special teams, or we have some guys who are playing real well right now and it gives them the extra two or three minutes a night," Hynes said. "It's difficult to match against that because we might put out a perceived fourth line, but it's got your leading scorer on it. And on the defensive part, we think we've got some good young guys back there and it allows us to maybe have some special teams elements like Eric [Gelinas] on the power play or [Jon] Merrill on the penalty kill. It's not just those two, but it gives you a little more versatility."

Here are the projected lineups:


Mike Cammalleri - Adam Henrique - Lee Stempniak

Jiri Tlusty - Travis Zajac - Kyle Palmieri

Sergey Kalinin - Jacob Josefson - Jordin Tootoo

Brian Gionta - Brian O'Neill

Andy Greene - Adam Larsson

John Moore - Damon Severson

David Schlemko - Jon Merrill

Eric Gelinas

Cory Schneider

Keith Kinkaid

Injured: Patrik Elias (knee), Tuomo Ruutu (foot)

Scratched: Stefan Matteau, Bobby Farnham


Michael Raffl - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek

Matt Read - Sam Gagner - Wayne Simmonds

R.J. Umberger - Scott Laughton - Brayden Schenn

Vinny Lecavalier - Chris VandeVelde - Ryan White

Michael Del Zotto - Mark Streit

Nick Schultz - Evgeny Medvedev

Brandon Manning - Luke Schenn

Steve Mason

Michal Neuvirth

Injured: Sean Couturier (upper body), Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (lower body)

Scratched: Radko Gudas

Status report: Neuvirth was taken off of injured reserve Wednesday and will be the backup to Mason. He missed the past two games with an upper-body injury.

Who's hot: Streit has five points in the past three games on one goal and four assists. Laughton has points in three straight games (one goal, two assists). Brayden Schenn scored twice against the Sabres. He and Giroux are the only Flyers to score multiple goals in a game this season. … Zajac has four points in the past four games. Cammalleri didn't have a point against the Blue Jackets, but has eight points in the past five games.


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