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Flyers Notes: Flyers bench Del Zotto and Lecavalier

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Trying to wake up his floundering team, Flyers coach Craig Berube continued a recent pattern of benching some of his healthy regulars.

Flyers head coach Craig Berube. (LM Otero/AP)
Flyers head coach Craig Berube. (LM Otero/AP)Read more

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Trying to wake up his floundering team, Flyers coach Craig Berube continued a recent pattern of benching some of his healthy regulars.

For Tuesday's game in San Jose, Berube benched Michael Del Zotto - who has struggled lately, but was arguably the team's best defenseman in the season's first month - and veteran Vinny Lecavalier, a 405-goal scorer who will get strong Hall of Fame consideration when his career ends.

In recent games, Berube also has benched Luke Schenn twice, Andrew MacDonald, and Pierre-Eduoard Bellemare.

"That's a sign that everyone has to be held accountable and responsible," Del Zotto said before the game.

Del Zotto has "played some really good hockey for us, but the last little while he wasn't moving the puck," Berube said after the morning skate. "He was trying to do too much himself. To me, his defensive play has dropped off a little. I talked to him today about getting back on track, moving the puck, joining the rush not leading the rush, and playing better defense."

The Flyers had lost eight of their last nine games entering Tuesday.

"Things obviously aren't going as well as the team would like as of late," said Del Zotto, who said he was surprised and disappointed by his demotion, "and we're trying to find a way to get some wins, so it's the coach's decision. All I can control is how hard I work each day."

Lecavalier, 34, has not scored a goal in his last 12 games and Berube said it was "very difficult" to tell him he was benched.

"He's a respected hockey player that's been around a long time. He's done a lot. It's not easy for him," Berube said. "It's not an easy conversation, but it's part of being a coach."

Lecavalier, visibly upset by the coach's decision, was asked if he thought the benching was justified.

"I'm not going to start arguing. It's his decision," he said of being a healthy scratch for the first time in his career. "There's nothing I can do about it, so I'm going to work hard in practice and when I get back, I'm going to do my best to help the team."

Lecavalier added: " Obviously, when you don't play - not just tonight but the previous games, playing 10 minutes and five minutes and stuff like that, it's definitely hard to produce and show what you can do. At the same time, I don't want to give excuses. . . . I just want to go out and play and help the team out."

The Flyers tried to deal Lecavalier last summer. Before last season, he signed a five-year $22.5 million deal to play for Peter Laviolette, who was fired three games into the campaign.

"I'm not going to lie and say I didn't go here for Lavy. Of course I did," Lecavalier said. "I met him and Homer [Paul Holmgren, then the GM] and had a great meeting. I liked what he said to me. It was obviously a surprise [when Laviolette was fired], but that's last year and it's a different system and it is what it is. Nothing's always going to be perfect. It's my job to try to work with it and do my best at it."

In the Flyers' previous game, a 5-2 loss Saturday to the Rangers, Berube benched defenseman MacDonald - he of the six-year, $30 million contract - and center Bellemare. Both returned to the lineup Tuesday and said their benchings helped them get refocused.

MacDonald was a healthy scratch Saturday for the first time since his rookie season with the Islanders in 2009-10.

Referring to MacDonald and Bellemare, Berube said "they've got to understand that they came out of the lineup for a reason. They weren't playing good enough. I expect them to both go in there and, again, the intensity level has to come up on both their parts."