Downie returns to Flyers' lineup; Rinaldo still out

Flyers forward Steve Downie. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Steve Downie is back. Zac Rinaldo isn’t.

Rinaldo,  who has missed the Flyers' last nine games with a left high-ankle sprain, is getting close to returning the lineup, but will not play Tuesday against visiting Detroit.

Downie will return after being a healthy scratch in Saturday’s 6-1 loss to Boston. Downie will be reunited with Sean Couturier and Matt Read, an effective trio in December before Downie was injured.

“He’s going to go in there tonight, and I’m looking for him to be an intense hockey player,” coach Craig Berube said after Tuesday’s morning skate. “The Steve Downie I know wins one-on-one battles in the corner, comes up with loose pucks, is strong on the puck and has a heavy stick. That’s what we’re looking for.”

Downie is point-less in his last 14 games; he says he is healthy, but has not been the same player since returning from an upper-body injury Dec. 28.

Steve Mason will get the start. The 6-foot-4 goalie has a 4.56 GAA and .851 save percentage in his last six games.

Here are the expected lines:

  • Claude Giroux centering Scott Hartnell and Jake Voracek.
  • Brayden Schenn centering Vinny Lecavalier and Wayne Simmonds.
  • Couturier centering Downie and Read.
  • Adam Hall centering Michael Raffl and Chris VandeVelde.

Couturier and Read were on the ice for all six of Boston’s goals on Saturday, including three on the power play.

The Flyers are trying to snap a four-game losing streak.

“We need to be more competitive,” Berube said. “Any time things aren’t going well, you’ve got to really dig down and get yourselves out of a hole. It’s about competitiveness and playing like a team, and we haven’t done that the last couple games.”

After Tuesday, the Flyers have a tough three-game trip to Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose.

“Tonight we’re at home, and we have to set the tone for the next few games with a big win _ and a big effort, more importantly," Hartnell said.

Hartnell said he was relieved that a CT scarn Monday showed no structural damage to his injured left foot.

“It’s weird. It hurts, especially in the boot where you tie your laces right around where I got a shot a couple weeks ago," he said. "Deep down, I thought it was broken, and it’s not, so it’s obviously a big relief and you have to play through the discomfort. It’s just sore and aching, but a lot of guys play through bumps and bruises and I’m no different.”

Detroit depleted. The Red Wings will be without three key forwards who are injured:Henrik Zetterberg,  Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen. They are three of their top top five scorers.

Breakaways. The Flyers have won the last seven games vs. Detroit at the WFC since 1997....Hartnell, Schenn, Kimmo Timonen and Erik Gustafsson lead the Flyers with plus-4 ratings; at the other end: Hall (minus-15), Lecavalier (minus-13), Rinaldo (minus-12) and Nick Grossmann (minus-11)….The Flyers have just eight goals in the last four games…..The PK has killed just 14 of 20 penalties (70 percent) in the last six games. Before that, they had killed 34 of 35 in a 10-game stretch....Andrej Meszaros will be a healthy scratch for the 22d time Tuesday....MIke Babcock is aiming for his 400th coaching win with Detroit.

Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.