Lecavalier starting to play with a bang

AL STRACHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 1:35 PM ET

 It's not what the Calgary Flames wanted to see.

 Vincent Lecavalier is starting to throw his weight around.

  Lecavalier, the first overall draft pick in 1998, started his career slowly with the Tampa Bay Lightning. There were complaints about his laziness, his inconsistent play and his lack of leadership.

 Gradually, though, his play evolved, his maturity increased and by the time this year's playoffs started, all those complaints had evaporated. Still, he was not seen as a physical player.

 Now, that, too, appears to have changed.

 In the Eastern Conference final against the Philadelphia Flyers, when captain Keith Primeau dominated not only with his skill but with his size, Lecavalier took notice.

 Now, against Calgary in the Stanley Cup final, Lecavalier has been one of the more physical players.

 Lecavalier said he made a conscious decision to get more involved midway through the Flyers series.

 At first, it was just a way of getting into the game. He wanted to get involved in the first period and help his team to a fast start.

 But now, it's a full-time approach.

 "I started with Philadelphia, trying to hit their (defencemen) and play behind their D," he said. "It has been working and I'm going to keep working at it."

 The physical play not only makes Lecavalier more effective, it makes his whole team more effective.

 "It's good to see the top guys are physical," Tampa forward Brad Richards said. "It kind of brings everybody on to the same page.

 "We saw it happen the last series with Primeau and it just kind of makes everybody believe they can do it."

 The Flames entered the Stanley Cup final more worried about Richards' line than Lecavalier's.

 With Lecavalier playing a physical game, they may have to change their minds.


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