The Flyers will be without Vinny Lecavalier when Danny Briere makes his return to Philadelphia on Thursday night. (USA Today Images)
The Flyers were hit with some hard news on Sunday.
An MRI found that center Vinny Lecavalier, the Flyers’ big offseason acquisition, has a non-displaced fracture in his lower back that will keep him out of the lineup for three to four weeks, according to general manager Paul Holmgren (see story).
Lecavalier had been treated for what was suspected to be back spasms, but when he was sent back to Philadelphia for further medical evaluation, his injury was revealed to be more serious.
The 33-year-old has missed time with three separate injuries already this season but remains tied with Matt Read for the team lead in goals with nine.
Losing Lecavalier for a month is a tough blow to the Flyers, who will wrap up a six-game road trip after traveling to Ottawa on Monday and Chicago on Wednesday. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some storylines to follow this week:
Pick up the slack
With Lecavalier out of the picture for awhile, the Flyers will need to find some scoring elsewhere.
Holmgren on Sunday said he wasn’t looking to make a deal for another center and that Lecavalier’s absence will present “opportunities” for other players on the Flyers’ roster.
It’s not yet known who the Flyers might call up from the Adirondack Phantoms – Tye McGinn is a likely candidate – but it’s clear that the team will need several forwards to hammer home some goals.
Jakub Voracek is one of those forwards. The 24-year-old last found the back of the net 12 games ago and has been held pointless in seven straight. The slumping winger has just 12 points (three goals) in 29 games this season. That’s far from the type of production expected from a top-line skater.
The Flyers will also be relying on Brayden Schenn and the rest of the second line to pick it up offensively. With Lecavalier sidelined, Schenn has moved over from the wing to center Michael Raffl and Wayne Simmonds. But the trio has combined for just three points – all assists – over the past three games.
That was quick
The Flyers are only three months into the 2013-14 campaign, but they will wrap up their season series with the Ottawa Senators on Monday.
It could be a clean sweep, too. The Flyers have won both contests against the Sens this season, 5-0 on Nov. 12 in Ottawa and 5-2 on Nov. 19 at the Wells Fargo Center.
Two of Voracek’s three markers this season came in the Flyers’ second win over Ottawa. He also had an assist in the first two meetings with the Sens, while Claude Giroux, Kimmo Timonen, Lecavalier and Schenn each tallied a goal and two helpers in those games.
A happy return
When the Flyers return home later this week, they will welcome back a familiar face to the Wells Fargo Center.
Danny Briere, who spent six seasons with the Orange and Black from 2007-2013, will return to Philadelphia for the first time as a member of the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.
The Flyers used one of their two compliance buyouts on Briere this past summer, ending the 36-year-old’s tenure with the club. After spending a month on the open market, Briere inked a two-year, $8 million deal with Montreal in July.
Briere hasn’t gotten off to a great start with the Canadiens, but that’s partially because he was sidelined for almost a month with a concussion. In 21 games this season, he’s collected five goals and five assists.
It’s not the first time Briere will face his former teammates, however. Briere and the Habs beat the Flyers 4-1 in Montreal on Oct. 5. But since it’s his return to Philly, you can expect it to be an emotional night for the veteran forward, who was a fan favorite during his time with the Flyers.
Who to watch for
Ottawa: You may expect to hear the names Erik Karlsson or Bobby Ryan, but it’s Clarke MacArthur who's been heating up for the Senators as of late. The forward has scored six goals and assisted on five more over his past 10 games. MacArthur had two points in Ottawa’s 5-2 loss to the Flyers on Nov. 19.
Chicago: Let’s go with a player that will bring back horrible memories for Flyers fans. Yes, I’m talking about Patrick Kane, who scored the game-winning goal for the Blackhawks in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Flyers in 2010. The Buffalo native has collected at least one point in 17 of his last 18 games and leads Chicago in scoring with 37 points this season.
Montreal: The Canadiens aren’t a high-scoring team, but they do have one of the league’s best point-getting defensemen in P.K. Subban. Through 31 games this season, Subban has four goals, 20 assists, 31 penalty minutes and a plus-9 rating. The Flyers should also keep their heads up. Subban won’t shy away from throwing his weight around.