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Flyers' Lecavalier opposing old pals

In a strange twist of fate, three players who helped Tampa Bay win the Stanley Cup in 2004 will commemorate the 10-year anniversary by facing each other in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Flyers' Vinny Lecavalier is on one side, the New York Rangers' Brad Richards and Martin St. Louis are on the other.

"Weird" is the word Lecavalier used to describe the matchup between his old pals.

"After you win a Cup, you think it's going to be the same group forever," Lecavalier said. "…But it's part of hockey, part of the business, I guess. You have to move on, and we all did."

New York will host the playoff opener Thursday at Madison Square Garden, where the Flyers have lost eight straight since 2011.

"Honestly, I don't think we have to think much about it," Lecavalier, who is in his first season with the Flyers, said of the skid at the Garden. "That's in the past. We're focused on Game 1, obviously, and it doesn't matter what happened in the last three years."

Lecavalier is still close with Richards and St. Louis. When you win a Cup, the bond lasts a lifetime.

The players still talk on the phone, still text each other _ though Lecavalier said they will not communicate during the playoff series.

"I've know Brad since he was 14 years old. We played high school together, then we played juniors together, then we played NHL together, so obviously we're very good friends," Lecavalier said. "And with Marty, I played with him for 12 years, and he played against my brother in college. We go way back as well."

St. Louis, acquired by the Rangers late in the season, called Lecavalier a "great teammate" and a "real big physical presence in the playoffs. He's a big boy who obviously uses his body really well. Obviously, having him on the other side is going to be a little different."

St. Louis, 38, had the best season of the trio, scoring 30 goals and collecting 69 points with the Lightning and Rangers, while the almost-34-year-old Richards had 20 goals and 51 points. Lecavalier, who turns 34 on Monday, had 20 goals and 37 points.

(Inquirer staff writer Marc Narducci contributed to this report)