Van Riemsdyk return could spark lifeless power play

James van Riemsdyk

VOORHEES, N.J. – When Flyers public address announcer Lou Nolan shouts out: “The Flyers are going on the PECO Power Play!’’ some of the Wells Fargo Center faithful fans might as well be going on their way to the concession stand.

That’s how bleak things have gotten for the orange and black with the man advantage.

How about 2 for the last 28?

That drought has dropped the Flyers all the way down to 28th in the NHL at a mediocre 13.6 percent.

But wait – help is on the way. That would be James van Riemsdyk, he of the 6-foot-3, 217-pound frame and large goaltender obstructor.

After sitting out 18 of the first 19 games with a foot injury, van Riemsdyk is scheduled to return for Thursday night’s game against the New Jersey Devils.

JVR’s return should add some energy to a power play which can’t seem to get out of its own way.

On Wednesday, coach Dave Hakstol sort of went back to his old No. 1 unit of van Riemsdyk, Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek, Sean Couturier and Shayne Gostisbehere, sort of scrapping his “split’’ units, which featured Travis Konecny and, at times, Nolan Patrick or Wayne Simmonds with the top group.

If van Riemsdyk can maintain the pace in his first game back, the Flyers might be able to get something going on the power play.

To take the power-play slump even further, the Flyers have had only two two-goal games with the man advantage all year and in 12 of the 19 games have no power-play goals at all.

“Well, if it (the power play) was going great, we wouldn’t change it,’’ Hakstol said. “The looks that we had today, by putting ‘Riemer’ back into the mix – what we have tomorrow will be dictated by his availability.’’

Maybe van Riemsdyk can get things going.

“You’d like to get back in the trenches with the guys,’’ van Riemsdyk said. “I think sometimes it’s one of those things where pucks just don’t go in.

“I think the guys were have on the power play, with the track record that we have, I don’t think it’s something that we have to worry about. I think it’s just a matter of time before pucks start going in and going in frequently.’’

For the Flyers, they must do a better job with entries into the attack zone.

“That’s a big part of it,’’ Hakstol said. “We’ve had some clean entries, that’s the first step. If you have to go 200 feet, you have to gain entry. That’s one area of the power play that takes some maturity.

“We had trouble with that yesterday (a 2-1 loss to Florida). That’s an area we want to improve.’’

In five-on-five situations, van Riemsdyk will be skating on a line with Jordan Weal at center and Wayne Simmonds on right wing.

That will move Dale Weise back to fourth line, with Scott Laughton taking over at center and Nicolas Aube-Kubel also seeing action with that unit.

It looks like veteran Jori Lehtera will be the odd man out for the Devils game.

Van Riemsdyk says it might take himself a little while to get his timing back but it wasn’t like he was out a couple months.

“He looked good out there today,’’ Hakstol said. “On the specialty teams that we did, as well as on a line today for the first time

Avatar photo
About Wayne Fish 2472 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.