By Mary Cunningham
Vinny Lecavalier is about to leave the Flyers’ witness protection program.
The Flyers are missing centers Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Sean Couturier. Bellemare will be out at least two weeks because of a lower-body injury sustained in their 4-3 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday.
As a result, Lecavalier will make his season debut tonight against the New Jersey Devils.
Couturier is day-to-day with an upper-body injury he called a concussion sustained Oct. 21 against the Boston Bruins.
Lecavalier, 35, was a healthy scratch in the Flyers’ first eight games. At practice yesterday he worked at left wing on the fourth line. Chris VandeVelde moved from left wing to center to take Bellemare’s spot.
“It was nice to get a practice with a line and having to go every time and not jump in here and there when you kind of lose that flow,” Lecavalier said, according to CSNPhilly.com. “It was good to get that flow and get a real skate.”
Lecavalier was a healthy scratch 17 times last season, the first of his career. He said that experience has helped him remain focused during his time out of the lineup this season.
“I’ve been through it last year and last year was tough,” he said. “Now it’s about me and staying and telling myself the right things and doing the right things out there and working hard in practice.”
Now in his 17th NHL season, Lecavalier’s 411 goals are sixth among active players and his 931 points are seventh.
The Flyers also could have goaltender Michal Neuvirth back. Neuvirth, who missed the past two games because of an upper-body injury sustained against the Bruins, practiced Wednesday. Jason LaBarbera was up from Lehigh Valley of the American Hockey League to serve as the backup to Steve Mason.