JvR Flying Under The Radar
Compared to some of his teammates, James van Riemsdyk has not been generating a lot of buzz this season.
Strange for a player who has already recorded 16 points in 20 games.
When the Flyers traded Mike Richards and Jeff Carter over the summer, the spotlight fell on van Riemsdyk and teammate Claude Giroux to step up. Not only would they need to aid in making up for the goal scoring lost, but they were also positioned to become the new faces of the franchise.
Giroux has been receiving non-stop praise since the season began, and with good reason. JvR, however, has been flying under the radar, though he is 5th on the team in scoring.
After a 40-point regular season last year, van Riemsdyk had a great postseason. He tallied four goals against the Buffalo Sabres in the first round, and another three against the Boston Bruins.
The promise that van Riemsdyk showed during the postseason led to high expectations for the 2011-2012 season, and he got off to a good start, tallying four points in his first five games. His play hit a snag for a four-game stretch, but he's been playing fairly well ever since, and especially in recent games.
Head coach Peter Laviolette seems to agree.
In his last five games, JvR has seen an average of 18:51 ice time, which is over two minutes more than his average in the first five games of the season (16:32). True, injuries to some of his teammates are a factor in his increased ice time, but it's likely that his recent play is also a factor.
He isn't the fanciest player.
He won't always dazzle with flashy goals. He is most successful when he is driving hard to the net, something he proved in the second game of last season's Eastern Conference semifinals against the Boston Bruins. Though it ultimately ended in a Flyers loss, that game was one of his shining moments.
In the third period of last night's game against the New York Islanders, JvR pulled a nifty move as he attempted to score on Rick DiPietro. As he approached the net, he deked not once, but twice, around defenseman Steve Staios. He wasn't able to capitalize and score, but it did draw a penalty at a point in the game when the Flyers needed a goal.
It was an example of what he needs to do to be successful.
There are still parts of JvR's game that need improvement, including turning the puck over, but he is a highly skilled player that can only get better from here. At 22, he still has time to learn, grow, and become a better player.
If van Riemsdyk continues his strong play, it won't be long before people start to take notice. His name is recognizable, but it's time to let his game speak for him.
Many thanks to Samson Photos for allowing us to use their photos.