Flyers Vs. Devils Eastern Conference Semifinals, Game 1: JvR Is At It Again
This was supposed to be a big year for James van Reimsdyk. Following a dominating performance in last year’s playoffs, the 22-year old Middleton, New Jersey native had caught the attention of almost everyone in the greater Philadelphia area.
Most especially, the front office of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Largely assumed to be one of the reasons that the Flyers were able to part ways with Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, fans and marketers alike anointed van Riemsdyk and teammate Claude Giroux as the new, new faces of the Philadelphia franchise.
And the Flyers certainly paid him like it, rewarding van Riemsdyk with a brand new six-year contract extension worth $25.5 million back on August 30.
With the playoffs fresh in everyone’s memory and the Flyers built around a youth movement that left open opportunities for every one on the roster to pave a role for themselves, van Riemsdyk was poised to take the reigns as one of the key members of the franchise.
Ultimately, it didn’t quite work out like that.
After failing to click with Giroux and Jaromir Jagr on the top-line, van Riemsdyk bounced around the lineup and never really found a consistent role for himself.
Then of course the injuries started to occur and much of van Riemsdyk’s promising year slowly went down the drain.
"It is one of those things that happens,” he said. “Those injuries are a part of the game. I am lucky that I have a good support system that only lets me worry about what I have to do out there on the ice and they block me out from the rest. I am definitely thankful for that and I just go out there and play hockey."
Following Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Sunday, it was clear that van Riemsdyk was ready to play hockey.
After being slowly reintroduced to the lineup in Games 5 and 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, van Riemsdyk looked like the playoff performer of last season making power moves to the net and utilizing speed to outwork defenders.
“I mean he is a beast,” Giroux said of van Riemsdyk’s performance. “He looks like the James that last year in the playoff. He is so strong and so fast. He has everything a player would want. He was unbelievable again.”
After giving Philadelphia the lead in the second period, van Riemsdyk was instrumental in Danny Briere’s game-winning goal in the overtime period that gave the Flyers the 4-3 win. Although he didn’t receive an assist on the play, van Riemsdyk helped facilitate the tally by driving to the net, helping establish a zone presence and then set the screen in front so that Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur was unable to make the save.
It was an impressive sequence that displayed last year’s performance was only just the tip of van Riemsdyk’s potential.
“I think everybody remembers what he was able to do last year in the playoffs,” head coach Peter Laviolette said after the game. “We wanted to put him in the position where he could try to be successful and I thought he was.”
With new linemate, Danny 'Mr. Playoffs' Briere setting an example as the lead, van Riemsdyk is starting to show flashes of his own tendencies to shine in the postseason. Obviously it's just one game, but when you think back to last postseason and then look at Sunday, it's kind of hard not to connect the dots.
Whatever the reasoning may be, James van Rimesdyk is back at it again in late April and the Philadelphia Flyers and their fans are just fine with that.
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