As the Flyers begin preparing for training camp as a top four team in the East, many players can be credited for their success. However, one name that constantly gets overlooked is the $35 million man. Since his return to Philadelphia, James van Riemsdyk has been about as mediocre a player as you could imagine. Scorers in the NHL are always streaky, but JVR always has, what seems like, extended scoring droughts. Because of this, many fans believe that JVR should be traded, let go, or put up for grabs in the NHL’s expansion draft next year. This same man, however, could also be the reason why the Flyers make a deep run in this years COVID-19 playoffs.
Prior to the NHL suspension, JVR had 40 points in 66 games for Philadelphia. He did not finish out the “regular season” with the Flyers, though, as he suffered a broken finger back on March 4th after blocking a shot in a 5-2 rout over the Capitals.
JVR’s point production, or lack thereof, always comes in bunches. To start the season, it took him eight games to register a point. During this time, he also led the NHL with 35 shots without a goal. However, he then gathered six points in three games. There are no outliers in JVR’s game logs; all of his points, or point droughts, come in consecutive games. It’s actually quite impressive.
When looking at JVR’s season overall though, there is one thing that sticks out more than the rest:
His +5 rating.
Aside from going +15 during his sophomore season, JVR has struggled to prove his defensive worth. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to be on the negative side of the plus/minus stat, just look at a guy like Alex Ovechkin. However, Ovi can score 50 goals a season, as JVR does not.
It’s important to note that this +5 season is the second-best of his career, while still producing a pace for 48 points this season. The adjusted 48 points come close to his fourth-highest adjusted points as well. Whether it’s significant and intentional or not, James van Riemsdyk has shown a different style of play this season.
The numbers prove this too, as oiGF (even-strength goals while on ice) is the third-lowest of his career (40). Whether this is the cause of being on a much more depth role with the Flyers or not, it goes to show that JVR has fit his role nicely.
Aside from his changing play style this season, JVR has shown to be productive against many of the Eastern Conference round-robin and qualifying teams in the past.
As you can see from the chart above, JVR has proven to put up points against the Eastern conference teams. The playoffs are about the teams who have depth that contributes, and JVR gives the Flyers just that. His 28 total power-play goals on trails Claude Giroux on the team, so JVR will need to set up shop in his typical front of the net power-play role. Along with this, many playoff teams rely on their veterans to stabilize their offense heading into the playoffs, which JVR provides with his 20+ points against all but two of the teams (one if you exclude Toronto, his team for six seasons).
Heading into the playoffs at the end of next month, it’s the Flyers time to shine. After earning the fourth-best record in the East, they’ll need to rely on their top guys to produce. It’s evident that Giroux and Voracek will play their part, but the Flyers will be needing JVR to get hot at the right time and push them to the Stanley Cup.
Avid Philly fan and future educator
Student at Stockton University