Timonen on demotion: 'I'm mad about it'
The Flyers, who are in the midst of a four-game losing streak and off to the worst start in team history, are finally back in action Thursday night after a six-day break.
Coming to town are the reeling New York Rangers (2-5-0), who will play the eighth game of a nine-game road trip and are tied with the Flyers (1-7-0) for the fewest goals in the NHL this season with 11.
With puck drop set for 7 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center (CSN), here are five things you need to know:
1) Lecavalier's new line
After missing three games with a lower-body injury, it appears Vinny Lecavalier is on track to make his return to the Flyers Thursday night.
In an attempt to get the offense going, head coach Craig Berube moved Lecavalier, who has been practicing with the team since Sunday, from his customary center position to the wing on Claude Giroux's line with Michael Raffl -- not Jakub Voracek -- during practice this week.
Lecavalier has played wing before as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Berube is hoping Lecavalier will spark the Flyers' top line, especially Giroux, who has yet to score a goal this season.
In his first five games in orange and black, Lecavalier had a goal and two assists and was one of the few players consistently generating scoring chances.
The 33-year-old should also boost the Flyers' struggling power play, which has scored just three goals on 33 chances this season. Both of Lecavalier's assists in the early going have come on the man advantage.
2) Switching it up
As mentioned above, the Flyers' power-play units have not been getting the job done.
If things stay the way they've been in practice this week, the Flyers' top unit will have Giroux, Voracek and Wayne Simmonds on offense with Mark Streit and Lecavalier on the point.
That means Kimmo Timonen, who has quarterbacked the club's top unit since coming over from Nashville in 2007, has been demoted for the first time in his Flyers career (see story).
Timonen had the third-most power-play points among defensemen a year ago with 17, but has failed to register a single point through eight games this season.
“I was just looking for a different setup,” Berube said after practice Wednesday (see story). “I wanted to get the ice times [down] with Kimmo. I want more 5-on-5 and penalty-kill minutes [for him] and [to] find more ice time for Streit on the power play. That is my thinking.”
3) Depleted Rangers
This is a game the Flyers have to capitalize on. The Rangers will be without arguably one of the best netminders in the world and three of their top forwards.
Goalie Henrik Lundqvist is listed as day to day with what the Rangers are calling a "minor issue." He allowed four goals on just 19 shots in his last start -- a 4-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils -- and aggravated an injury that caused him to miss practice time this week.
The Flyers should be happy to see Lundqvist sidelined, as the former Vezina winner has posted a 25-12-3-3 record with a 2.52 goals-against average and .914 save percentage in 42 career regular-season games against the orange and black.
Also out for New York are captain Ryan Callahan (thumb), sniper Rick Nash (head) and speedster Carl Hagelin (shoulder).
The Flyers still need to keep an eye on forward Brad Richards, who has stepped up offensively after being a healthy scratch in parts of the playoffs last season. Richards is leading the Rangers in points (seven) and has four of the team's 11 goals.
4) Meet Cam Talbot
With Lundqvist out, rookie goaltender Cam Talbot will make his first-ever NHL start Thursday night.
The Rangers signed Talbot as a free agent back in 2010, but the netminder has spent most of his time in the AHL with the Connecticut Whale -- and now Hartford Wolfpack -- over the past few seasons.
After waiving former Flyer Martin Biron last week, the Rangers brought up Talbot to serve as Lundqvist's new backup.
The 26-year-old Talbot was impressive in the few games he played in the AHL this season, posting a 4-0-1 record, 2.49 goals-against average and .924 save percentage.
Since Lundqvist won't dress, the Rangers are expected to recall Jason Missiaen to backup Talbot on Thursday.
5) This and that
• The Flyers went 2-3-0 against the Rangers last season, but won two out of three contests held at the Wells Fargo Center. Overall, New York has won 11 of the last 13 meetings between the two clubs.
• Voracek led the Flyers offensively against the Rangers last season, posting four goals and three assists in five games. Simmonds added three goals and three assists of his own.
• Derek Stepan had seven points (two goals, five assists) in five games against the Flyers last season.