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Flyers' Lecavalier has non-displaced fracture in back

by Adam Kimelman

The Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday announced center Vincent Lecavalier will miss at least 3-4 weeks due to a non-displaced fracture in his lower back.

Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said Lecavalier skated Saturday in Dallas, but said Lecavalier’s back tightened and became sore as the day progressed.

"He had an X-ray in Dallas and they found something on the X-ray that didn't look right, so we flew him back to Philadelphia [on Sunday] to get him into our own doctors' hands," Holmgren said. "He had an MRI done and they found a non-displaced fracture in his lower back."

Holmgren said Lecavalier will rest for a few days and then start his rehabilitation when some of the soreness in the affected area goes away.

Lecavalier had missed the previous three games with what the team called back spasms. Holmgren said the injury occurred during the third period of the a game against the Nashville Predators on Nov. 30.

"We're looking at 3-4 more weeks," Holmgren said. "Vinny's been out a little more than week now, eight days. He couldn't do much for six days. He skated in Dallas [on Saturday] and I don't believe it aggravated it, but I don't think it helped. We'll take it a bit slower now that we know what we're dealing with. When Vinny starts feeling a little better, we'll get more aggressive with his rehab."

If Lecavalier misses four more weeks, he'll have missed 16 games in total, with a potential return date of Jan. 7. This marks the third time Lecavalier will miss time due to injury -- he was out for three games in October with a lower-body injury and one game in November with facial injuries following a fight against the Washington Capitals on Nov. 1. The Flyers are 2-5-0 without Lecavalier in the lineup.

Holmgren said he doesn't see a trade as a solution to the Flyers' problems, saying he expects the players already in place to elevate their play.

"It's hard to go out and replace a guy like that," Holmgren said of Lecavalier.

Lecavalier has been a huge part of a struggling Philadelphia offense. His nine goals are tied for the team lead and his 14 points are tied for third.

Brayden Schenn has shifted from left wing on the second line to Lecavalier's spot in the middle of that line, with Wayne Simmonds and Michael Raffl, who moved up from the fourth line. But Schenn, who is tied for third on the team with seven goals, has one assist in the three games Lecavalier has missed with the back injury.

Schenn isn't the only offensive non-performer for Philadelphia, which has struggled mightily on offense this season. They entered games Sunday 29th in the League in scoring at 2.17 goals per game, and that includes the 41 goals they scored in their past 14 games (2.93 goals per game). The Flyers are one of six teams (Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators, New York Rangers) without a player with double-digit goals.

It's a huge dropoff for the Flyers, who were ninth in scoring last season and second in 2011-12.

Among the missing scorers are captain Claude Giroux, who didn't score a goal until his 16th game and has five in 29 games; Scott Hartnell, who has six goals in 25 games after scoring a career-best 37 in 2011-12; Jakub Voracek, who has three goals in 29 games after totaling a personal-best 22 in 48 games last season; and Simmonds, who has two even-strength goals in 29 games after scoring a personal-best 28 two seasons ago and had 15 in 45 games last season.

The Flyers recently have been carried by their third line of Sean Couturier, Matt Read and Steve Downie. In 12 games since the line was formed when Downie returned from a concussion, the three have combined for 12 goals and 17 assists.

"Other guys have to pick it up," Holmgren said. "There's an opportunity for other players to perform now. They wouldn't have gotten as many minutes because Vinny would have been in the lineup. We have to look for other guys to step up."


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