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Flyers vs. Panthers preview: Time for some line shuffling

Vinny Lecavalier makes his return against the Florida Panthers, causing Craig Berube to tweak his lineup.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Flyers enter south Florida coming off a disappointing loss against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but perhaps the return of a familiar face and some line shuffling can help them pull of a win against the Panthers.

Of course, the big news of tonight's game is that we'll see Vincent Lecavalier back for the first time since early October when a bout of boneitis foot injury took him out of game action. Kurt just posted an interesting piece about what Lecavalier's return means for line composition (and you should read it!), and the general gist is that while Vinny should probably be eased in on the fourth line, he'll instead slot into the second.

That's a damn shame because the Schenn - Bellemare - Simmonds trio has been pretty impressive, but regardless, Berube seems to think otherwise.

The other big news of tonight is that Shayne Gostisbehere won't be playing in (or around, I guess) his home town, as he'll be sent back to the AHL. Travis wrote in the preview for Thursday night's game that sitting Gostisbehere in the box makes little sense, and with the Flyers acquisition of Carlo Colaiacovo, his return to the AHL seemed all but inevitable.

The Panthers, meanwhile, have been absolutely dreadful at generating offense -- they currently have the second fewest goals per game, only rating better than the tanking Buffalo Sabres. Their special teams are also at the bottom of the league, and their current leading scorer is Brad Boyes, who has notched just 4 points in 8 games.


Maybe if veteran leader and noted point scorer Dave Bolland wasn't injured, things would look better.

And yet, despite all those statistics suggesting they'd be awful, they're doing relatively fine. They've been able to snag 9 points in 8 games, which, while not great, is certainly nothing terrible (especially when you consider the Flyers have only one more point despite playing two more games). They're decent enough in possession, and have been pretty damn good at keeping other teams from scoring against them.

In net, we'll see the return of Steve Mason, who relinquished the starting role to Ray Emery in the past four contests. Mason has been nothing more than mediocre this season, so maybe facing the abysmal offense of the Panthers is what he needs to get going. Florida will start Roberto Luongo, who has put up impressive numbers as always.

Philadelphia Flyers at Florida Panthers

7:00 p.m. ET | 4:00 p.m. PT
BB&T Center | Sunrise, Fla., USA

In Philly: The Comcast Network, 93.3 WMMR
In Florida: Fox Sports Florida, AM 970 WFLA
Everywhere else: GameCenter Live
Get Florida coverage over at Litter Box Cats

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