James van Riemsdyk has gone from being one of the Flyers’ biggest prospects to a bit of a disappointment. But now, the 6’3” winger is on his way back to becoming a staple of the Flyers’ young, powerful offense.
After poor play from JVR prompted the Flyers to recall Eric Wellwood from their AHL affiliate Adirondack Phantoms and scratch van Riemsdyk four total times despite no injury, fans were beginning to doubt JVR’s ability to live up to expectation and fit in on what appears to be one of the better Flyers teams in recent history.
However, in his last three games, JVR has rebounded, scoring in each, and clicking with his teammates on all cylinders.
For head coach Peter Laviolette, the reasoning is simple. “Typically for me, when somebody really starts to make a difference in a game, their skating ratchets up, which puts you on the physical end of things, on the puck, and now you’re playing hockey,” Laviolette said of van Riemsdyk’s accelerated play.
After the Flyers lost in a shootout in their annual Black Friday matinee, all of the focus was on a controversial call in overtime that wound up being the difference maker. JVR managed to slip under the radar despite continuing a three-game scoring streak. But you can tell in the locker room, van Riemsdyk is much more confident. He feels good about his game and sees the importance of his place on the team.
“Maybe a little bit of [confidence],” JVR said. “Also, I think our line just has some great chemistry, kind of naturally, all of our three styles fit together pretty well.”
No one would have guessed a week ago that van Riemsdyk would be playing at the level he is now. “It’s funny how hockey works sometimes. You may not necessarily feel you’re playing a ton of a lot different or better, but sometimes you get the bounces and sometimes you put some points in,” JVR commented.
The streak, though impressive alone, will hopefully be a building block for a consistent season. van Riemsdyk has the skill to play at a high level for quite some time. It’s all about whether or not he can build on this confidence and grow to be a staple of the Flyers young core.
“Obviously I want to keep doing what I’m doing,” as JVR put it.
Time will be the test for whether the recent success is a fluke or the budding of another big piece of the puzzle in what has been an impressive start to the Flyers season.