VOORHEES, N.J. – When it comes to down-low efficiency on the power play, they don’t come any better than the Flyers’ James van Riemsdyk.
His large frame takes up a lot of space in front of opposing goalies, which is why he annually leads the team in goals with the man advantage.
However the Flyers figure to be without the services of van Riemsdyk, who will miss at least a month of action due to a fractured finger he suffered in Sunday night’s 3-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks at the Wells Fargo Center.
Van Riemsdyk is scheduled to undergo surgery on Friday.
With van Riemsdyk out, coach John Tortorella said Scott Laughton is the likely candidate to fill that role. While he might sport a smaller frame than JVR, Laughton can make up for that with good positioning and an active stick.
After Tuesday’s practice at the Flyers Training Center, Laughton said he’s going to try his best to make up for van Riemsdyk’s absence.
“It’s big,’’ Laughton said of No. 25’s departure from the lineup. “On the power play, just his presence in the room. It’s tough for our group. But guys have to step up and I feel like we’ve been doing that for the last little bit here.’’
Laughton said he went through the same injury a couple years ago.
“I came back a little early but I think it was about four and a half weeks,’’ he recalled.
The Flyers’ power play has been remodeled this year. With last year’s trade of Claude Giroux, the quarterback role belongs to Tony DeAngelo. There seems to be quicker puck movement and that should suit Laughton’s style.
“Obviously not playing a ton of power play in my career, it’s just getting used to being at the net front,’’ Laughton said. “I was learning a lot from ‘Riemer,’ what he does on a day-to-day basis at net front.
“I’m trying to pick up little things from him and add something different to that unit if I’m on it.’’
The Flyers were at the bottom of the barrel on the power play last season and clearly want to get that number turned around. They were ranked as high as 15th as of Sunday.
What has Laughton picked up from studying JVR?
“Just his positioning,’’ Laughton said. “He’s always in the right spot. Gets his stick on everything. I think he’s been the best guy in the league for awhile in front of the net like that. I don’t think you can really replicate it but I’m trying to do some little things at the end of practice.’’
>Tippett close to return
Owen Tippett has been sidelined with a concussion since the season opener against New Jersey and the Flyers are playing it cautiously because he acknowledges he’s had concussions in the past.
Tortorella indicated if Tippett can get through a couple practices without problems, he could be back shortly, possibly as early as Thursday’s home game against Florida.
It’s just a matter of clearing medical testing. Tippett did practice on Tuesday although he did not take part in some of the contact drills.
“I’m feeling better and better everyday,’’ the right wing said. “We’ll see how tomorrow goes and then make the call for Thursday.’’
Tippett disclosed he might go to a tinted visor (similar to the one former Flyer forward Nolan Patrick wore) to cut down on the amount of bright lights his eyes are subjected to.
“You see guys who are wearing the black, smoked ones,’’ Tippett said. “The one I had on today was just to take some of the glare off the lighting. We’ll have to see what happens with it on Thursday.’’
Tippett could see some action on a line with Laughton.
It’s been frustrating having to miss this much time at the beginning of the season. Expectations have been high since he was brought over from Florida in the Giroux trade.
“I was getting into the swing of things,’’ he said. “Playing in preseason and kind of building my game. . .getting back to where I wanted to be. I’m excited to get back whenever that is.’’
Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, who missed the last four games, made it through the entire practice on Tuesday. . .JVR got off to a good start, so his presence on defense will be missed. “He’s played hard,’’ Tortorella said. “I think there’s been a little black cloud hanging over him with people (saying) what kind of player he is. It hurts our power play.’’. . .Cam Atkinson remains on hold. “Still trying to find his way,’’ Tortorella said.