At the end of January, James van Riemsdyk looked like he was about to have the same type of season he enjoyed when he scored 36 goals during his last year in Toronto.
The NHL even made him its player of the month for that quick start.
But since then, things slowly have been grinding to almost a near-stop. He entered Thursday night’s game without a goal in his last 12 games.
“He’s getting in my estimation, maybe not as many looks as he was early on,’’ coach Alain Vigneault said during a late Thursday afternoon media Zoom call from Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y. “But he’s getting some looks. I believe he’s working hard right now, he’s trying to do the right things.
“JVR has, throughout his career, been streaky at moments. He was very hot at the beginning. I’m keeping my fingers crossed and our team is also. . .banking on that he’s going to find his touch. Last game (Boston on Tuesday) was basically a one-goal game and you need your top performers to come up for you.’’
A lot of JVR’s goals come from deflections in front or close-range shots generated by strong play along the boards.
He believes he’s been keeping the same work level but, in so many words, the bounces haven’t been going his way.
“For me, that’s something I’ve always prided myself on,’’ the Middletown Township, N.J. native said. “Just being consistent in my approach and what I bring. Ultimately, you’re never going to be perfect.
“If you have that consistency as far as being good on the walls, making good decisions with and without the puck . . . my process, I like some things about that; obviously I’d like some more production.’’
>Hagg back in, Myers sits
Vigneault decided to get defenseman Robert Hagg back in the lineup for the Islanders game. Phil Myers took a seat for the second time in less than a month.
Myers was the Flyers’ defense plus-minus leader at plus-17 last year. This season he’s struggled at minus-14.
“Like Joel (Farabee), he’s a young player, he has potential,’’ Vigneault said. “What that full potential is, we’re not quite sure. Are they going to figure it out, are they going to get it?
“We believe Phil has a lot of potential. Lately his puck decisions have been the area that have caused him some problems and, at the end of the day, our team problems.’’
Vigneault went on to say this move was as much about getting Haggs some action as it was Myers’ play.
“This is a learning curve that Phil is going through,’’ the coach said.
>Farabee moved to Hayes line
Vigneault moved some of his forwards around, taking Farabee off the Sean Couturier line and putting him together with center Kevin Hayes and Scott Laughton.
Nolan Patrick was assigned a center spot with Michael Raffl and Nicolas Aube-Kubel.
Vigneault compared Farabee to Myers in that both are getting their first real look at an NHL season, albeit a shortened one.
“Both him (Farabee) and Phil didn’t start with us last season,’’ Vigneault noted. “They’re young players. Joel’s a very young player (he recently turned 21). Everyone can see the potential.
“But like any player, sometimes you have ups and downs. As a young player, you’re learning the game, you’re learning the components. . .not just to manage the game but manage the schedule. I believe that’s what Joel is going through right now.’’
Going into Thursday night’s game at the Islanders, Farabee had only two goals in his last 12 games.
“He’s going through a stretch where he’s not feeling it as much as he was at the beginning but I like his work ethic, I love his hockey sense,’’ Vigneault said. “That’s why we have him playing power play, penalty kill, five-on-five.’’
>Still playoff hopeful
Vigneault was asked if his team might be feeling the pressure of trying to overcome a sizable deficit heading into the final month of the season.
“I don’t know if it’s as much pressure as excitement and the opportunity,’’ Vigneault said. “We know we’ve put ourselves in a jam here and we’re trying to fight our way to come out and be back in contention.
“In my estimation, that should bring out the best in us.’’
Leave him exposed in the draft