VOORHEES – You don’t have to walk far to get first-hand observations on sophomore center Nolan Patrick’s scoring woes.
In fact, it’s just about a half-dozen stalls away in the Flyers’ locker room at the Skate Zone, where James van Riemsdyk hangs his equipment.
Like Patrick, JVR was a No. 2 overall draft pick once (back in 2007) and, so he can empathize with what the 20-year-old Patrick is going through.
Heading into Thursday night’s game against the Dallas Stars, Patrick had not scored a goal in 22 games – his last goal coming Nov. 10 in a game against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Van Riemsdyk’s advice to Patrick? Just keep playing the game the right way and eventually things will come around.
“It’s one of those things where it’s definitely a process for a young guy,’’ JVR said after Thursday morning’s skate. “He came in right away and it kind of makes you appreciate when things kind of do start going your way.
“There are tribulations but I think it’s important that you do go through them. For me, I definitely went through some times where things weren’t always smooth in my first go-round here.’’
Van Riemsdyk survived those early struggles and is now coming off a 36-goal season which resulted in him signing a five-year, $35-million free-agent contract with the Flyers.
“It (the adversity) makes you a better person, better player. . .it kind of makes you more weathered, makes you believe you can handle those sorts of things.’’
Patrick was hampered by abdominal surgery his rookie year, then suffered what was believed to be a concussion early this season. Recently he was sidelined by an upper-body injury.
Patrick, however, is not using those as an excuse.
“I had some struggles last year but nothing like this year,’’ said Patrick, who has just five goals and 11 points in 36 games. “You know obviously it weighs on you mentally.
“But I’m confident I’ll get out of it. I know this will make me stronger as a player. It’s something you think about when you’re going through a slump like that. I’m just trying to contribute in other ways when the puck is not going in.’’
Coach Scott Gordon has tried Patrick on virtually all four lines but nothing seems to be working.
Patrick has been getting support from veterans such as Dale Weise. He also comes from a hockey family and speaks to his dad, Steve (a former NHLer), on the phone almost every day.
With the Flyers mired in an eight-game (0-6-2) winless streak, it makes all the more frustrating for someone like Patrick.
Is there a temptation to do too much to help the team?
“For me, I feel it’s not trying to do too much,’’ he said. “It’s not something I usually do. When the team is struggling, it’s tough – I think we’re all just trying to stick together to get out of this slump.
“I talk to my father and uncle every day and they obviously have been through tough stretches in their careers, so they can give you advice how they handled it. I bounce a lot of things off them.’’
The injuries have prevented Patrick from developing a rhythm in his game. His lone bright spot over the past two months was scoring the game-winning shootout goal in a win over the Rangers at New York on Dec. 23.
Coincidentally, that was the last game the Flyers had won as of Thursday morning.
“It (injuries) is part of the game,’’ he said. “You can’t control it. I’ve been injured enough in my life to know how to come back from it.’’
Scott Laughton can also relate to Patrick’s lack of production.
He says he’s still working to improve his offensive game. As a former first-round draft pick himself, he knows the pressure that comes with that expectation.
“It’s a tough league,’’ he said. “It takes time. He’s still young and there’s still time to figure it out. He’s doing a lot of good things on the ice. Winning faceoffs and things like that.
“As long as he keeps his feet moving and becoming a better player, I think he will be OK. He’s got all the tools. It will come eventually.’’
Added Gordon: “He got hurt and I don’t think he’s at the same level he was. There’s a lot of talent. Getting to scoring areas and playing with a little more pace would be something I would like to see a little more of.’’
Carter Hart was scheduled to go back in goal for the Flyers against the Stars. Hart is 2-4-1 with a 2.68 goals-against average and .909 save percentage. . .After using JVR on the fourth line at Washington, Gordon said he planned to use him on the first line against Dallas.
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