A healthy scratch for seven games, veteran Vinny Lecavalier returned to the Flyers' lineup Thursday against visiting Florida.

The 34-year-old forward played right wing on a line centered by Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. Zac Rinaldo was at left wing, and Chris VandeVelde was scratched.

Lecavalier, who has 405 career goals, was also on the second power-play unit.

"It's nice to be back and be with the guys," Lecavalier said before the game. "It was really tough [to sit], especially the first game. After that, it was kind of a mental game to stay positive and work hard."

Coach Craig Berube said Lecavalier has been "skating well and working hard" in practice. "We get a little boost here . . . maybe a little pop on the power play."

Berube said he kept Bellemare at center - Lecavalier's natural position - to take advantage of his speed.

In 16 games before Thursday, Lecavalier had two goals, six points, and a minus-4 rating. He started the season well but struggled after missing seven games with an ankle injury.

While he was a healthy scratch, Lecavalier talked to his father, Yvon, for advice.

"Obviously . . . you're not very happy, and you're frustrated you're not playing," Lecavalier said. "I was talking with my dad, and there's nothing I can do. It's out of my control. The only thing I can control is me being ready for next time. I come to the rink and be happy to be with the guys and work hard. That's the only thing I can control, so that's what I did."

Lecavalier, who had 20 goals last season, said he has a lot of good hockey left.

"I still believe in myself. I believe in what I can do," he said. "I'm not 40 years old. I'm 34. Not 24, maybe, but I still feel I can be very productive."


The Flyers start a season-long, eight-game road trip Saturday in Toronto. They are 3-9-3 on the road. . . . Scouts from 10 teams attended Thursday's game: Dallas, Columbus, Edmonton, the Islanders, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Calgary, Vancouver, Florida, and Detroit.