The Flyers struggled to score against a fatigued Tampa Bay team on Tuesday, which might provide the impetus coach Craig Berube needs to put forward Vinny Lecavalier back in his mind and, quite possibly, back on the ice.
A day after the Flyers dropped a 3-1 decision to a team playing its second of back-to-back games with a 20-year-old rookie goalie making his NHL debut, Berube hinted after an optional skate at the team's Voorhees training facility that he was open to playing Lecavalier again.
One of nine players to practice, Lecavalier was a healthy scratch for the last seven games. He appeared briefly in the locker room with two of his three children, before heading back into a room adjacent to the team's locker room without addressing reporters. Earlier this week he told reporters, "I want to play."
"He looks good and he's skating well in practice," Berube said after the short skate. "He's skating really well. I thought he was skating really well at the beginning of the year and his work ethic was really noticeable. I'm noticing that again."
In the second year of a five-year, $22.5 million deal, Lecavalier, 34, has scored just two goals and six points in 16 games this season. He hasn't played since the team played back-to-back games against the New York Rangers on Thanksgiving weekend.
In the second of those games, he played a season-low 5 minutes, 56 seconds as a fourth-line right wing. This is a far cry from his best days with Tampa Bay, when he was routinely on the first or second line.
His benching over the last seven games marks the first of his career. He has no goals in his last 12 games and no points in his last five.
His last goal was against Florida - Thursday's opponent - on Nov. 1. That goal came after Lecavalier missed seven games with an ankle injury.
Berube did not give an indication as to which line Lecavalier might join. He could center the second line, which would drop rookie Scott Laughton to fourth line and make Pierre-Edouard Bellemare or Chris VandeVelde a healthy scratch.
Another possibility - perhaps the more likely scenario - is Lecavalier's going to fourth-line center, which would bench Bellemare or move him from center to right wing and bench VandeVelde.
During his benching, Lecavalier has wondered aloud why he was not seeing any ice time. Berube, in general terms, has said he was just not happy with Lecavalier's game.
On Wednesday, Berube said that circumstances will dictate how he uses Lecavalier.
"It will depend on what kind of team we are facing," said Berube. "I think I have to give him opportunities with skill players. I'm going to look at the lines. I like the way they are so I'll have to think."