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Flyers’ James van Riemsdyk Can Teach as Season Moves Along

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James van Riemsdyk (AP photo)

The Philadelphia Flyers are a struggling team that needs to find the positives in a rebuilding season.

The play of 33-year-old left winger James van Riemsdyk has been one of those positives. 

Back in the summer, the rumor mill had the Flyers being active in the free-agent market. They were supposed to sign electric left winger Johnny Gaudreau, who grew up a Philadelphia Flyers fan in South Jersey and had his eyes set on coming to Philly.

No funds

Van Riemsdyk was rumored to be dealt to free cap room, but that didn’t happen. The Flyers signed Nick Deslauriers and Justin Braun instead of a marquee player like Gaudreau.

Head coach John Tortorella has said the NHL is a “young and dumb league”. Now where does this tie into James van Riemsdyk, you may ask?

Well, van Riemsdyk doesn’t fit either description. He is a heady veteran player.

He knows his limits. He’s older now, and has been a father for a few years, so   it’s safe to say that JVR is helping out his younger teammates and trying to show them what he has learned.

The Central Jersey native missed time with a broken finger, but has played well when on the ice. Tortorella praised him recently, saying: “He’s a seasoned pro; he gets it. Before he got hurt he was playing really well.”

Mentor of sorts

Tortorella also said van Riemsdyk was the “kind of a guy who can teach” guys like Morgan Frost and Owen Tippett, among others.

On the season, Riemsdyk has four goals and 10 points in 11 games. He missed 20 games because of a fractured finger, suffered blocking a shot against San Jose.

Before the injury, he was a huge part of the Philadelphia Flyers’ early power-play success with his net-front presence. He looks much quicker, and he’s been winning board battles to keep plays alive. Since he returned, he hasn’t missed a beat.

After battling the rust off and getting back into his groove against the Capitals, van Riemsdyk excelled in his second game back. That was Dec. 9, when he was arguably the team’s best forward against Vegas,

Van Riemsdyk, who could be dealt to a contender at the trade deadline, had five points in his first four games back in the lineup. He has been skating on the top line with young players Frost and Tippett. They seem to read off each other quite well.

Entering Thursday, the Flyers had lost 16 of 18, but had been competitive in most games; they then finished off a 1-1-2 road trip with a 2-1 win in New Jersey.

Philly has had some good moments in games, but hasn’t been able to close most of them out.

Thursday was a good start, and while JVR’s line didn’t score, the three players combined for 13 shot attempts and did a good job of keeping the puck in New Jersey’s end.

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