Steve Downie expected back vs. Oilers

Steve Downie expected back vs. Oilers

December 27, 2013, 11:00 am
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Steve Downie has scored two goals and picked up 10 assists in 20 games as a Flyer since arriving in a trade from Colorado in late October. (USA Today Images)

Steve Downie, who missed the previous two games with an upper body injury, says he is feeling better and is expected back in the lineup Saturday at Edmonton.
 
Downie skated on a fourth line with Chris VandeVelde and Zac Rinaldo at Friday’s early morning practice before the team headed to Western Canada for its annual post-Christmas road trip.
 
“I’m feeling pretty good, we’ll see tomorrow,” Downie said after practice.
 
Asked if there was anything he still couldn't do on the ice he said, “I felt pretty good today with my shooting and stick-handling. I think I made strides today."

Both coach Craig Berube and general manager Paul Holmgren expect Downie to play. Given that he’s missed time, Downie will start out with fewer minutes on a lesser line.
 
Berube said he was reluctant to disrupt the chemistry right now on both Sean Couturier’s line and Brayden Schenn’s line. Vinny Lecavalier replaced Downie on the Couturier line with Matt Read, and Berube says he likes having Lecavalier at right wing.
 
“I like both of his games and thought the second one [against Minnesota] was better,” Berube said of Lecavalier. “He had some chances. He looks like he fits in there with those guys. We’ll go game by game right now.”
 
Berube stressed keeping him lines “intact” with minimal disruption.  
 
“I thought Schenn’s line with [Scott] Hartnell and [Wayne] Simmonds had their best game last game [against Minnesota],” Berube said. “They’re getting better as a line. We’ll leave it for now.”
 
Loose pucks
Because defenseman Erik Gustafsson (sprained knee) is on injured reserve, the Flyers don’t have to make a roster move right now if Downie plays. Adam Hall was ill but is going on the trip. He is questionable for the Oilers game.