JVR’s impending return could recharge spotty power play

James van Riemsdyk

VOORHEES, N.J. – In the movies, when there’s trouble in Gotham City, they shine the Bat-Signal.

With the Flyers, when there’s distress in Power Play City, they shine the JVR-Signal.

JVR, of course, is Flyers power forward James van Riemsdyk, who’s been sidelined for 20 games with a fractured left index finger.

Stuggling along at barely 14 percent (31st in the NHL), the Flyers could certainly use the services of van Riemsdyk, who has led the team in power-play goals the past couple seasons.

While van Riemsdyk sat out these past five weeks, the Flyers have gone just 5-10-5, a skid which includes a 10-game (0-7-3) winless streak.

So as anxious as the Flyers are hoping to have him back for a game against Washington on Wednesday night, the New Jersey native is just as eager to get back in there.

“I’m obviously getting closer and closer, just taking it day by day at this point,’’ he said after Tuesday’s practice at the Flyers Training Center. “I’m just trying to take it from there.”

The good news is he’s been able to skate throughout the hiatus, so conditioning shouldn’t be a problem. As for the timing. . .

“I’ve been able to skate the whole time,’’ he confirmed. “It’s as good as it can be. Playing in games and stuff, you can’t really mimic hockey shape. But you try to do your best as far as skating and things like that. Staying in shape in other ways. You just have to jump in the water at some point and go from there.”

Van Riemsdyk was asked about his role on the power play. The Flyers have tried several substitutes in front of opposing goalies without much success.

“Yeah, I’m excited for that for sure,’’ he said. “I think it’s a small sample size but earlier in the year the power play was doing really well. We were snapping it around good. Being really productive and it was helping us win games. I’m definitely excited, that’s part of my role, my job, so I’m excited to get back and contribute in that way.”

One problem might be getting a tight grip on the stick. He said he might have to live with a little discomfort.

“At this point I don’t think it’s going to be perfect,’’ he said. “When you get to the point where you feel comfortable enough to contribute and not be a liability, you take it from there. That’s where I’m going with it.’’

No doubt it’s been tough sitting out.

“I’d love to play,’’ he said. “That’s what I love to do. When you’re watching it’s always tough. You think you can be out there, contribute and make a difference in some games. But I think the team’s been playing pretty well lately and I just want to hop in, have a seamless transition and contribute any way I can.’’

Coach John Tortorella would love to get van Riemsdyk back in action not only for the power play but for overall play in general. The coach has a lineup dotted with youngsters and the inexperience shows, like in Monday night’s game when the Flyers nearly blew a three-goal lead against Colorado.

“I think if we get a good report today he has a good chance to play,’’ Tortorella said. “The strength of his game is the power play, underneath the hash marks. He’s a veteran guy who I thought was playing really good before he got hurt.

“So he will give us a boost.’’

>Short shots

Tanner Laczynski, who scored a goal against the Avalanche, apparently suffered a lower-body injury in that game and on Tuesday was placed on Injured Reserve. He is listed as week to week.


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About Wayne Fish 2446 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.