Vigneault expects more from van Riemsdyk, Farabee

James van Riemsdyk

In the National “What Have You Done Lately’’ Hockey League, Joel Farabee’s team-leading 14 goals and James van Riemsdyk’s runner-up 13 come with an asterisk.

JVR entered Tuesday night’s game against the Boston Bruins without a goal in his last 11 games.

Farabee had two over that same span but his plus-minus rating in those matches was a dreary minus-9.

Flyers coach Alain Vigneault knows he needs more from these two in what amounts to the team’s top offensive line with Sean Couturier.

Besides, when you have an elite set-up man like Couturier, there shouldn’t be any excuses, right?

“I need both those guys (van Riemsdyk, Farabee) to be better than they have been,’’ Vigneault said in a Tuesday afternoon media Zoom call. “They’re aware of it. They’re working on their game. We need them to play well.

“Joel obviously is a very young player making his first steps in the NHL and he’s learning every time he gets out there. In James’ case, he’s a veteran player, we need him to be the James that he was that first month and a half.’’

Van Riemsdyk played so well at the start of the season in January he was named NHL player of the month.

Farabee leads all NHL players under the age of 22 in goals produced this season.

>Laczynski scratched but earns praise

Vigneault chose to pull rookie Tanner Laczynski from Tuesday night’s game, despite two strong efforts in his debut against the Islanders on Saturday and his second game on Monday in Boston.

The coach said it was strictly a roster numbers move. He wanted to get Oskar Lindblom back in action after a one-game rest break.

“Smart, two-way hockey player,’’ Vigneault said of Laczynski. “Can play more than one position. For him, I’m sure this was a great experience. We’ve got a young player we’re going to work with. Hopefully he can help us win some games moving forward.’’

Vigneault added he planned to move Michael Raffl to center for this game.

>Hagg getting close to return

Defenseman Robert Hagg, out the better part of a month with a shoulder injury, has been practicing but Vigneault doesn’t want to rush him back into action.

“He’s real close,’’ Vigneault said. “I believe he’s a couple days here from being ready to play and a hundred percent. If we would have needed him, I would have tugged his jersey a little bit and he would have given me the OK.’’

Right now, the Flyers are well-stocked on defense with Erik Gustafsson serving as a No. 7 spare on a nightly basis.

>Laughton addresses trade rumors

Scott Laughton, who can become an unrestricted free agent if he’s not signed by this summer, is beginning to generate some buzz in the trade rumor mill.

The trade deadline is Monday and the Flyers are essentially right on the playoff bubble with 19 games to play.

A lot of teams in stronger contention would love to have Laughton but he says he would be happy just staying put.

“It (possible trade) really hasn’t crossed my mind,’’ Laughton said. “If that happens, it happens. But my focus is here in Philly. I love it here. . .the staff, the guys. So my focus is coming to work everyday and trying to get better, push the pace a little bit and get a playoff spot.

“Whatever happens, happens. But I love it here in Philly.’’

The Flyers are said to be interested in adding a possible top-end defenseman but it remains unclear what approach they will take if they head into Monday on a low note.

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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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