Dropping The Gloves: Who needs to step up in Lecavalier's absence?
Without Vinny Lecavalier in the lineup for about a month, other Flyers need to up their scoring if the team wants to keep its playoff chances alive. (USA Today Images)
OTTAWA, Ontario -- Head coach Craig Berube said it three times on Monday.
Others have to “step up.” And that the Flyers have “players here good enough” to make up for Vinny Lecavalier’s absence if they raise their level of their play.
One such player is Jakub Voracek, who has been up front and honest that he needs to do better than his season total of 13 points.
His 12-game goal drought ended Monday against the Senators (see story).
If the Flyers are going to survive a month or so without Lecavalier, who has a non-displaced fracture in his lower back, Voracek is one of those players Berube is referring to when he refers to a veteran who has to pick it up.
“Speaking for myself, it isn’t what I ever expected or what anyone wanted it to be,” Voracek said. “Even for me. My production should be better. It is what it is. I can’t be stuck on what happened the first 30 or 29 games. I have to move on. If I start producing, we score more goals and we will have a chance to win games. My  points isn’t good enough. I’ve had point struggles before and I am sure I will be fine.
“Vinny’s a great player. We’re gonna miss him. This room is full of great players who can fill roles for each other. This is gonna bring us more together, I think. We’re gonna play, I would not say harder, but we know when our best players are out we have to step up.”
Across the board, the Flyers will need a better effort from their top line with Scott Hartnell and Claude Giroux, not just Voracek.
“We need to be better for Jake and better for each other,” Hartnell said. “I don’t think you can sit and point fingers at people and saying they are not trying. Not doing what they can. Definitely, we need to do better and make sure we are supporting each other on defense. Vinny is Vinny. Everyone knows what he brings every night. He’s solid. He finds a way to score and a way to make plays. Obviously, he will be missed.
“It’s a little bit more pressure and responsibility for [Brayden Schenn]. He’s the No. 2 center now. We need him to be better. Everyone has to pick up the slack. It’s a big stretch for us.”
Schenn says he is feeling increasingly comfortable at center but also admits he doesn’t feel he can come close to filling Lecavalier’s skates without some help from others.
“It’s not pressure,” Schenn said. “I don’t put pressure on my trying to full Vinny’s role. As a group, everyone has to step up their game here. He’s a key piece in our lineup. For us to be missing him, everyone else has to be better.
“He’s going to be out now a little bit here and for me to come in and step up my game. ... That’s a key player we are missing from our lineup. Everyone has to contribute. For me, playing center, I said it before, I like the position, I played it most of my life and I think for me, it’s a good opportunity for me.”
Team captain Claude Giroux and Berube both feel Schenn has the ability to gain the most. The most ice time, a larger role and more power-play minutes on the second unit.
“Schenner is playing center now in his spot,” Giroux said. “He’s played well for us this year. It’s a great opportunity for him to show what he can do. He’s one of our better players. For him to have the opportunity to play in the middle and have more opportunity [on ice] is going to be great for him and for our team.”
These next three or four weeks could ultimately determine the Flyers' chances at a playoff spot.
Lecavalier had seven power-play points, and the Flyers' power play has been woefully inconsistent in this season and needs to get it together without their second unit quarterback.
“We know we are missing a key presence on that unit,” Schenn said. “For us, we have to shoot pucks, crash net and look for goals.”