Vincent Lecavalier was unable to earn a spot in coach Dave Hakstol's lineup following training camp and preseason. But due to an injury suffered by Pierre-Edouard Bellemare on Tuesday night, Lecavalier will finally have a chance to prove himself.
The former superstar will make his season debut tonight against the New Jersey Devils, playing at left wing on the fourth line with Chris VandeVelde and Ryan White. He skated with the starters yesterday and today in practice, and Hakstol also confirmed that Lecavalier would be back.
Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) October 28, 2015
The defense will also see a shift tonight. The first pairing of Mark Streit and Nick Schultz has been broken up, as Schultz will play with Evgeny Medvedev and Streit is paired with Michael Del Zotto.
Radko Gudas, who has been recently paired with Del Zotto, skated with the scratches in practice this morning, per Tim Panaccio of CSNPhilly.
Hakstol promised changes on defense. Tonite it's Manning/Schenn as Gudas sits. Gudas 22 hits last 3 games— Tim Panaccio (@tpanotchCSN) October 29, 2015
Gudas provided positive possession statistics on Tuesday, but as noted in the Morning Observations, he made a number of mistakes in the neutral zone. His play in the third period was particularly lacking.
[Gudas] finished in the plus column in terms of on-ice shot attempts, but by the eye test, he was brutal. He continues to be inconsistent with the puck on his stick, but his pinches have been the biggest issue. While Evgeny Medvedev and Michael Del Zotto's pinches almost always have purpose, too often Gudas jumps into the play when the risk is high but the reward is minimal. A poorly-timed neutral zone push midway through the third period resulted a prime scoring chance for Zemgus Girgensons, and then another pointless pinch created the Buffalo zone entry that later turned into a Jake McCabe goal.
As a result, a scratching would not be a surprise. That leaves Brandon Manning and Luke Schenn as the projected bottom-pairing. Still, Gudas may yet avoid the press box, as he did skate with the regular penalty killers this morning per Panaccio.
And yet Hakstol has Gudas on PK so maybe he is throwing out d-pairs as a deception to those watching prax— Tim Panaccio (@tpanotchCSN) October 29, 2015
The final defensive pairings may not be confirmed until the pregame skate. If Gudas does stay in the lineup, either Schenn or Manning are the most likely candidates to sit out tonight's matchup.
In addition, Michal Neuvirth was reactivated today, and Jason LaBarbera was loaned back to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. He'll most likely back up Steve Mason tonight. Sean Couturier did not skate and remains out with a concussion.
Projected Lineup (per Dave Isaac)
Michael Raffl - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek
Matt Read - Sam Gagner - Wayne Simmonds
R.J. Umberger - Scott Laughton - Brayden Schenn
Vincent Lecavalier - Chris VandeVelde - Ryan White
Michael Del Zotto - Mark Streit
Nick Schultz - Evgeny Medvedev
Brandon Manning - Luke Schenn