After signing a hefty contract upon his return to Philadelphia, James van Riemsdyk was burdened with the weight of expectation. He had shown in previous seasons that he is a force to be reckoned with, but many were wondering if his best seasons were long behind him.
The 2019-20 season started out rocky with the winger only racking up 9 points through the first 20 games. As the season went on he was able to put himself on the map, but the goal numbers were nowhere near what was expected based on previous seasons. JVR slid further and further down the depth chart, leading to a rumor mill that spun everything from trades to a potential Seattle Kraken draft selection. However, it seems Van Riemsdyk is setting out to prove the critics wrong in 2021.
He’s started the season off with the kind of bounce-back that fans had been waiting for, reminding us of just how dangerous he used to be. Through the first seven games this season, JVR has racked up five goals, four of them on the power play, and has shown his strength as a clinical forward for the team.
Van Riemsdyk made sure to hammer that point home in Tuesday’s game against the Devils, where he scored twice on the power play, helping secure a 5-3 win for the Flyers. JVR seems to be favoring taking advantage of the power plays.
“In those situations, his positioning in front of the net, screening the goaltender and having the hand-eye coordination to get those tips, those are big plays,” Vigneault said. “That power play tonight moved the puck well, created some great chances and generated momentum. That’s what we need from that group.”
“You try to use the time you have in the offseason to prepare yourself to play the best you can,” van Riemsdyk said. “Sometimes you get a bit of puck luck too so that’s been good. I’m just trying to go out there every game and be consistent from game-to-game, practice-to-practice and we have a lot of good players to play with which makes it fun.”
The Flyers will definitely need that consistency from van Riemsdyk for the remainder of the season. Even though it is still very early in the year, no one can deny that JVR has started out on the right foot and seems to be putting in the necessary work to get back on top. Maybe all van Riemsdyk needed was a little time to get back into the orange and black groove.
“When you come into a new season you’re trying to flush previous years and worry about this year. I want to continue to contribute in that way, keep playing my role in that sense and it’s nice when the puck is going in, that’s for sure!”
With the Flyers facing the Devils again on Thursday, let’s see if JVR can continue to stay on-pace, just as everyone is now rooting for him to do.
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre