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Lecavalier will make season debut

Veteran Flyers center Vinny Lecavalier might make his season debut on Thursday against visiting New Jersey.

Vinny Lecavalier, a one-time league superstar who was benched in the Flyers' first eight games, will make his season debut Thursday against visiting New Jersey.

Center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, who suffered an undisclosed lower body injury in Tuesday's 4-3 overtime loss to Buffalo, did not practice Wednesday and the Flyers announced he would miss at least two weeks.

Sean Couturier (concussion) skated before practice and then left the ice.

"It's tough losing Belly; he's been a big part of the team," winger Ryan White said of his linemate, Bellemare. "But we're excited to have Vinny. He's been chomping at the bit to get going."

Lecavalier, 35, played mostly left wing on the fourth line at practice.

"I believe in myself," said Lecavalier when asked if he thought he could still be a 20-goal scorer if he played regularly. ". . . I believe in what I can do."

"It's going to be good to see him in the lineup because I still think he has some gas left in the tank," winger Jake Voracek said. "His shot is always going to be dangerous."

Coach Dave Hakstol said he plans to put Lecavalier at left wing. Chris VandeVelde will move from left wing to center, with White staying at right wing.

"It was nice to practice with a line, and not have to jump in here and there" as an extra player, Lecavalier said. "Today it was kind of good to get that flow and get a real skate."

Lecavalier, a natural center, played mostly right wing last season.

"Vinny's a big body, so we want to get the puck down low with him and that's where he can make some hay." White said.

"That guy is a pro all the way," Voracek said. ". . . He has so much respect around the league."

Last season, under former coach Craig Berube, Lecavalier, who has 411 career goals, was a healthy scratch 17 times - the first 17 times of his career.

In the preseason, Lecavalier was beaten out by Scott Laughton for the third-line center spot.

"I'm working hard at practice and just getting ready for anything," Lecavalier said. "We're here for an hour, hour and a half. It's like the summer time - when you do work out, you work out hard. I try to do the same thing."

Breakaways. Hakstol had three new defensive pairings at practice - Michael Del Zotto with Mark Streit; Evgeny Medvedev with Nick Schultz, and Radko Gudas with Brandon Manning. Luke Schenn was the extra defender. . . . Voracek, the NHL's all-star right winger last season, is goalless in the first eight games and has just one goal in the last 19 games dating to last year. . . . Couturier is listed as day to day. . . . Michal Neuvirth, who has not dressed the last two games because of an apparent head injury, is expected to back up Steve Mason on Thursday.