What more can we say about the reemergence of James van Riemsdyk, a.k.a JvR, who has become the Flyers top goal scorer early on in this 2021 season. JvR is putting up solid numbers so far this season, leading the team in goals (7) assists(11) and points (18). He has come a long way from last year being a healthy scratch at times and more importantly being a scratch in some playoff games.
JVR was drafted by the Flyers 2nd overall 2007 and was born and raised in New Jersey, not too far from the Philadelphia area. In 2009/10, JvR quickly became a point producer in the pre-season which obviously led to him making the team. He was part of the Flyers memorable comeback-kids season in the playoffs against the Boston Bruins, where the team was down 3-0 in the series and even worse down 3-0 in Game seven. JvR’s first career playoff goal couldn’t have come at a better time, as the Flyers started their epic comeback and eventually won the series four games to three. That season was the last Stanley Cup appearance for the team, which hopefully with the parts they have, can end that 11 year Cup appearance drought and even more importantly the 46 years since the teams last Stanley Cup parade. JvR was then traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2012 and had two 30-goal-plus years with the Leafs. The Flyers got JvR back in 2018 as a free agent signing, and I thought “here we go again” with the recycling of players that the Flyers were famous for in the late 90’s and 2000’s. I was completely wrong. Well, so far .
At 31 years of age , James van Riemsdyk has reinvented his game. Although he’s still a goal scorer, his two-way play has improved and his puck movement is a welcome surprise. He admitted that he had to work on that part of his game and man has it paid off. JvR is on a line with Joel Farabee and Scott Laughton and they are clearly on fire. I hate to be negative but I can’t see them keeping up this goal production going in to the mid-way point of the season and later as the scheduling grind can become a kryponite with players wearing down with fatigue and injuries. Prove me wrong guys!!
JvR has always been a scoring threat and will be a key piece to the Flyers ultimate goal. Regular season stats are important I know, but when a player gets into his 30’s and has been on the team for a while, I’m a “what have you done for me in the playoffs” kind of guy. van Riemsdyk struggled big time in last year’s playoffs, playing in 12 games with only two goals and no assists. We often gloat about players regular season numbers and forget the deadly silence that players like JvR, Giroux, and Voracek give us scoring wise, or quite frankly, lack of scoring when it counts in the playoffs. These three players are crucial and vital to any playoff success the Flyers may have going forward. The puck has to go in the net and they haven’t done that on a consistent basis in the playoffs. JvR’s 19 regular season goals last year were a good sign, but up until this season with the Bruins getting added to the division, it was harder not to make the playoffs. So he needs to step it up come playoff time as this core of longtime Flyers are up against father time.
JvR’s two-way game as mentioned above has led him to a solid plus-five and an almost 67% faceoff win percentage. He’s also putting the puck on net with 30 shots, seven of them being goals for a solid shooting percentage of slightly over 23%. I hope the Flyers can hear me yell “SHOOOOOOT” as they are getting heavily outshot this season, but maybe, just maybe, it’s the timely shots on net and the goal production early on that has this team with an 8-3-2 record. I’d like to think and most would agree that we can’t keep seeing the Flyers getting barely 20 shots on goal if, once again, they want to go deep in the playoffs. I need to see a Stanley Cup before I die, and I hope JvR and the Flyers, with the nice mix of aging vets and up and coming young studs, will allow me to rejoice alongside all Flyers fans with a trip to Broad Street holding Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Photo Credit – Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire