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Hitchcock notes Lecavalier's progress

Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock had high praise for Lightning center Vinny Lecavalier.

"He's the (league's) most improved player because he's doing it at both ends of the rink," Hitchcock said before Tuesday's game against Tampa Bay. "He had the reputation of being a one-dimensional player. Now he's got multidimension in his game. He can beat you offensively, he can beat you defensively, he can beat you in skating games and in gritty games."

Lecavalier, 22, in his fifth season, has 10 goals and 20 points and is plus-9 after a 3-2 loss to the Flyers in which he scored. That puts him on pace for 47 goals and 94 points. He had 21 and 37 last season and was minus-18.

"He has an edge to his game now," Hitchcock said. "So he's creating room and space for himself, backing it up. He doesn't need his teammates in there to fight his battles.

"You saw the same thing in (Boston's) Joe Thornton, (Dallas') Mike Modano and (Calgary's) Jarome Iginla. These are elite players that learned to play in every type of game, and Lecavalier looks like he's going to be one of those players."

"It's a great thing to hear," Lecavalier said. "I think I've been playing a lot more consistent, but the whole team is playing great. It's a team thing. That's why we're winning. Everybody is producing."

Hodson on injured reserve;

Holzinger activated

With his strained groin still sore, goaltender Kevin Hodson was placed on injured reserve retroactive to Friday. With a minimum seven-day stay, Hodson won't be eligible to play until at least Saturday against the Devils. Until he returns, Evgeny Konstantinov is the backup.

Tampa Bay activated center Brian Holzinger, who broke his left leg in a pickup game before training camp but was cleared to play over the weekend.

Holzinger, who was scratched against the Flyers, knows he will have to wait to get into a game.

"I've got to work my way back in and I've got to be patient to get my chance," said Holzinger, limited to 23 games last season because of a shoulder injury. "The team is playing so well, you hate to shake up the lineup."

Holzinger said a conditioning stint with AHL Springfield is "not my first priority," but added, "if I played a couple of games here and felt it would be beneficial, that's something I'd consider."

ODDS AND ENDS: According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only 211 players have at least 250 goals, which is Dave Andreychuk's record-setting total on the power play. Only 50 active players have at least 250 goals. The assist by defenseman Dan Boyle on Lecavalier's goal was Boyle's 10th and broke a nine-game streak without points. Forward Vinny Prospal was held without a point for the first time in eight games. Left wing Chris Dingman and defenseman Brad Lukowich were healthy scratches. Left wing Fredrik Modin is still out with bruised ribs.

_ DAMIAN CRISTODERO

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