Quick-starting JVR earns NHL East player of month honors

James van Riemsdyk

Apparently the folks who vote for NHL monthly awards were paying attention to the Flyers-Islanders game on Sunday night.

In that match, James van Riemsdyk sculpted the first four-assist performance of his career in Philadelphia’s 4-3 overtime win.

It capped a first month of the season in which he took the team scoring lead with five goals/13 points.

The Middletown Township, New Jersey native has always taken a bit of an “aw, shucks’’ approach whenever he’s asked about success, so there’s no point in changing now.

In a Tuesday afternoon media Zoom call, JVR brought up “puck luck’’ again, but some of those stick-deflection goals on the power play aren’t just good fortune.

They require eye-hand coordination and skill.

“I think, especially comparing to last year, I’m just getting some puck luck,’’ van Riemsdyk said. Some pucks are going in and stuff like that.

“I definitely feel confident in my game though. I put in a lot of work in in the offseason like I do every offseason. There’s things you try to do to expand your game and add range to your game every year. It’s nice that I’m able to contribute and chip in offensively.’’

JVR registered a career-high 36 goals as recently as three years ago and isn’t known as a playmaker. Yet here he is with eight assists in just 10 games.

Perhaps he’s seeing the big picture a bit better.

“I think it’s just part of experience and things like that. . .there’s a fine line between taking what’s available and trying to overly dictate certain things,’’ he said.

“It depends on different line combinations and things like that, sometimes those things get shifted around a little bit as far as what’s available. I don’t think I’m really doing anything too differently in that sort of sense. Just being more aware in the offensive zone and just trying to get some more touches with the puck and make more plays that lead to dangerous chances is something that I’ve worked on over the past three, four, five years.’’

As for the award, that’s not his highest priority right now.

“That kind of stuff, I think you kind of look more at the end of a career where little stuff like that is cool,’’ he said. “As far as where I’m at, at this stage of my career, it’s certainly all about the team and winning a Stanley Cup, so that’s what I’m focused on day in and day out.’’

Van Riemsdyk, 31, continues to fine-tune his offseason workout and no doubt that contributes to his success this season.

“It’s definitely something I got super into early in my career,’’ he said. “Just different things you can do training-wise, treatment-wise, and on the ice working on different things.

“I think definitely now, in the last few years in particular, I’ve  spent more time on the ice just working on different things that I feel like translated a lot to the game, to allow guys to have success.’’

JVR’s play around the net this season has been nothing short of sensational.

“(I’m) working on plays around the walls and on the boards and things like that, picking up pucks off the walls,’’ he said. “Trying to expand my range as far as carrying the puck a little more. I obviously know there’s things I do well, a lot of things I do around the net really well that I want to play to those strengths.

“Ultimately, if I can add some more tools to my toolbox as a player that makes it harder to play against, it makes you more valuable as a player.’’

>Bucks family honored with JVR

Sharing the NHL East honor with JVR was the Hatheway family of Langhorne – both parents (Amanda, Josh) are frontline healthy workers. They were recently honored during a ceremony at the Wells Fargo Center.

Amanda, a nurse at St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne, specializes in family healthcare visits. She had to take a leave from her job recently after she was diagnosed with cancer. She received a bone marrow transplant and is now home recovering.

Josh is an EMT who started with the Newtown Ambulance Unit and now is the clinical lead for all technicians at the St. Mary emergency room.

The couple has two children: Westin, 4, and Carson, 2.

>Looking forward to Lake Tahoe

Like all the Flyers, van Riemsdyk is looking forward to the Lake Tahoe Outdoors game against Boston on Sunday, Feb. 21.

JVR has played in a record six outdoor games out of a possible 30 and has a fond recollection of each.

“”Well you are making me feel old with that stat,’’ he said with a chuckle during an NHL Media Zoom call. “I think some of the more memorable ones were definitely the first one at Fenway. I think that was still when these games weren’t as common as they’ve become now, but that was a cool memory. It was in my first year, too.

“So that one was a lot of fun. I got to play at the one at the Big House (Michigan). That was really cool, too. I played at the U.S. program a couple of years in Ann Arbor, so that’s always held a special place for me and playing an outdoor game there was pretty special.’’

What will be special about Lake Tahoe?

“Growing up in Jersey, there is not too much opportunity to get the skates on the ponds and rivers and stuff like that, but there were a handful of times growing up I got to do that,’’ JVR said. “There was a local sort of outdoor rink that we were able to play on a few times a year usually, so that’s something I would always look forward to.’’






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About Wayne Fish 2451 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.

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