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Flyers shift struggling Lecavalier to fourth line

by Adam Kimelman

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Flyers forward Vincent Lecavalier had been hoping to be shifted back to his natural center position. He'll get his wish Friday against the Toronto Maple Leafs, but not quite the way he wanted.

Lecavalier will center the Flyers' fourth line, flanked by left wing Zac Rinaldo and right wing Adam Hall.

Two days after a 3-1 loss to the New York Rangers, their second straight, the Flyers switched three of their four forward lines.

Lecavalier had been playing left wing on the second line, centered by Brayden Schenn. Coach Craig Berube easily could have flipped Lecavalier and Schenn but opted to move Lecavalier completely.

"I didn't want to move [Schenn] out of that position right now," Berube said. "It wasn't working where it was, so I put him in the middle there. That's where we're going to start right now."

Lecavalier clearly was disappointed but was focused on making his new line as good as it could be.

"I'll do my best to make sure our line is ready to go," he said. "[Rinaldo and Hall], they work really hard. I'll do the same. We'll work together to make sure we have a solid game."

Hall skated occasionally on a line with Lecavalier when they were teammates with the Tampa Bay Lightning and was looking forward to the reunion.

"He's a tremendous player, he's got tremendous abilities," Hall said. "He has that ability to create plays, create offense. He's got an amazing shot. … Adds that extra little bit of ability [to the line]. I'm excited to play with him obviously."

Lecavalier has three points in 13 games since the break for the 2014 Sochi Olympics and none in his past six games.

"I think he [Lecavalier] expects more," Berube said. "We all did. I still think he can [score]."

Replacing Lecavalier on the second line will be Tye McGinn. Michael Raffl, who had been centering the fourth line, was moved to right wing on the third line with Sean Couturier and Matt Read. The only line that remained the same was the top line of Claude Giroux between Jakub Voracek and Scott Hartnell.

After losing six straight, the Maple Leafs have dropped in the standings and are tied with three other teams with 80 points for the two Eastern Conference wild-card spots in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Toronto ranks fourth among that group based on having played the most games. They're hoping to improve their playoff hopes in Philadelphia.

"I think there's a lot of negatives floating out," Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said. "I don't think that has to come from the coaching staff. Our job is to try to provide a template for these players to feel comfortable to go out and have success. Some days it is a little bit more harsh, some days it's a pat on the back, some days it's a hug. Whatever you deem necessary. I'm sure nobody in life feels like coming to work and being ground into the dirt every day. That's part of the process; you have to pick and choose when to apply pressure.

"Our compete level has to go up. We haven't won enough 1-on-1 battles. We've been giving up too many odd-man rushes and breakaways. We've got to play better on the defensive side of the game."

Carlyle said he hadn't decided whether he would dress seven defensemen and 11 forwards or six defensemen and 12 forwards. Some of that had to do with the health of defenseman Paul Ranger, who took part in the morning skate Friday.

Ranger sat out the previous three games with a concussion sustained March 19 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"I haven't gotten an exact diagnosis or if he's available or not," Carlyle said. "I know that he's very close. I know that he's looked very good in practice."

Here are the projected lineups for the Maple Leafs and Flyers:


James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel

Mason Raymond - Nazem Kadri - Joffrey Lupul

Nikolai Kulemin - Dave Bolland - David Clarkson

Troy Bodie - Jay McClement - Colton Orr

Carl Gunnarsson - Dion Phaneuf

Jake Gardiner - Cody Franson

Morgan Rielly - Tim Gleason

Jonathan Bernier

James Reimer

Injured: Paul Ranger (concussion)


Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek

Matt Read - Sean Couturier - Michael Raffl

Tye McGinn - Brayden Schenn - Wayne Simmonds

Zac Rinaldo - Vincent Lecavalier - Adam Hall

Kimmo Timonen - Braydon Coburn

Mark Streit - Nicklas Grossmann

Andrew MacDonald - Luke Schenn

Steve Mason

Ray Emery

Scratched: Jay Rosehill, Hal Gill, Erik Gustafsson

Injured: Steve Downie (upper body)


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