James van Riemsdyk had quite the night on Thursday at Madison Square Garden. He –– more specifically, his face –– got the Flyers on the board late in the second period in what ended up being the turning point of the game.
The Rangers were all over the Flyers for the first half of the game, but the Orange and Black battled back. Brian Elliott kept the Flyers in the game early and JVR got the Flyers back into it with his goal.
James van Riemsdyk gets the Flyers on the board
James van Riemsdyk set up in his office on the power play and waited for a deflection or rebound chance. A deflected shot came his way and bounced into the back of the net. It wasn’t a result of his hand-eye coordination, but rather just pure luck with the puck hitting him in the face before dropping down to his chest and ricochetting over the line.
“It more shocked me I think than anything,” van Riemsdyk said of getting hit in the face. “Obviously, when you get hit like that, especially when you’re not really expecting it when it’s a deflected puck, it just catches you off guard a little bit. Just happy that it’s all good and was able to come back to try to help the team.”
The goal got the Flyers on the board and it gave them some real life. Prior to the goal, the Flyers had 0.745 expected goals in the game, per MoneyPuck. The Flyers ended the game with 3.67 expected goals, meaning they had 2.925 expected goals in 24:04 of game time after starting so slowly.
The two most influential plays in the game were made by van Riemsdyk.
James van Riemsdyk left the game after scoring off his face late in the second period, and there was some concern when he didn’t return for the start of the third period.
JVR returns to inflict more damage
He returned to the bench –– and the ice –– just a few minutes into the final frame.
“He got checked out. I think he also took an X-ray and everything was fine,” Alain Vigneault said after the game. “He took one for the team.”
“I had the X-rays right around my face kinda where it hit me. Thankfully, it looks like it’s all good for now,” van Riemsdyk said.
James van Riemsdyk scored the game-tying goal and wanted to help the Flyers go win it. And go win it they did.
With the Flyers on the second leg of a four-minute power play, van Riemsdyk once again set up in front of the net. This time, he deflected home an Ivan Provorov shot in the more traditional way.
Wearing the face shield and all, van Riemsdyk went to work in front of the net and gave the Flyers the 2-1 lead.
“That’s where he scores all his goals, most of his goals are second opportunities in front of the net, tip-ins, screens,” Vigneault said.
JVR Riemsdyk wasn’t going to shy away from the dirty areas.
“Ultimately, that’s kind of part of the job description for me as far as being in front of the net, there’s lots of chaos there, stuff like that,” he said. I’ve been pretty lucky for most of my career where I haven’t really taken too many pucks up high like that but ultimately you want to try to get out there and help the team and do what you can.”
That would’ve held up as the game-winning goal had it not been for Artemi Panarin‘s goal with two minutes left in the game. Nevertheless, it was an impressive showing by van Riemsdyk in the game.
JVR: James van Resiliency
The team definitely got a pick-me-up from van Riemsdyk returning.
“Sometimes that’s what it takes. He’s a veteran guy that’s been around for a long time,” Brian Elliott said. “Getting one off the face, I’m sure it’s a little bit easier once that goes in to come back than if it wasn’t going in,” he joked. “He was a huge part of the win today.”
James van Riemsdyk showed the resiliency that the Flyers need –– and have needed. There were a lot of times throughout this season, and in March specifically, where the Flyers would get knocked down and not get back up. They would give up a goal and then give up another one shortly after that. The Flyers needed some resiliency or something to stem the tide, but they didn’t have it.
After a 17-game goal drought, van Riemsdyk now has three goals in as many games.
JVR’s two goals added on to his team-leading point total, giving him 37 now on the season. The pair of goals also put van Riemsdyk in sole possession of the team lead in goals with 16, passing Joel Farabee‘s 15 markers.
This season has been a surprising one for van Riemsdyk. Many people assumed (or hoped) that he would be taken by the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft. That may still be the case, but his 16 goals –– tied for 38th-most in the league –– aren’t easily replaceable. And if Seattle doesn’t take him, his contract doesn’t look as bad with his 28-goal, 66-point pace if this were an 82-game season.