The 2019-20 NHL regular season has concluded and the next time the puck drops will officially kick off the race to the Stanley Cup. The Flyers are hungry and ready to battle it out, but that is thanks to the hard work from back in October.
In an End to End series, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Brooke Destra, Joe Fordyce and Jordan Hall will be grading players based on individual performances.
Today we will be looking at James van Riemsdyk.
When it comes to van Riemsdyk, he is a key example when explaining hot streaks players can have in the NHL. For example, he didn’t produce a single point in the opening seven games of the 2019-20 season — but he registered six points (three goals, three assists) across the next three. There were also two separate times where he went pointless for eight consecutive games. It’s not ideal by any means, but he still found a way to finish his season with 40 points (19 goals, 21 assists).
He also suffered a fracture to his right index finger just a week before the season came to a halt. While the Flyers would have most likely missed the winger in at least the first round of the playoffs, they’ll have No. 25 back in full health thanks to the league hiatus. Let’s hope he finds himself in a hot streak when it matters most in this run.
I’ll give van Riemsdyk a B-. There are a handful of aspects to his game where he can improve, but he brings a calm and confident presence during every shift, which is beneficial to the team as a whole.
The Flyers rely on JVR to provide offense for this team, and he definitely provides it in bunches; the key word being bunches. The Flyers invested a lot in JVR before last season, and he’s really a one-trick pony — causing havoc in front of opposing goaltenders and scoring goals. JVR, for a big guy, has soft hands around the net, the absolute strength of his game.
The issue with JVR is his streakiness. When JVR is in a hot streak, he’s a dominant force and it seems like he’s constantly around the puck, scoring goals and causing problems in front. However, when he goes cold, it’s easy to not notice JVR in some games. A player of his size and with his ability needs to be consistently visible and impactful in games. The Flyers hope they get the hot streak version of JVR when the playoffs resume.
B for JVR.
During the 2019-20 regular season, van Riemsdyk was streaky from an offensive production standpoint; most pure goal-scorers tend to be streaky.
If you watched closely, though, van Riemsdyk played some of his best 200-foot hockey in Alain Vigneault's system. With his size and ability to shield off opposing defenders, he helped augment Vigneault's system even when he wasn't scoring.
JVR moved up and down the lineup, played in the bottom six, saw different power play units and was able to produce 40 points (19 goals, 21 assists) and the team's fourth-most shots (151) in 66 games.
Over the last two regular seasons, the Flyers have gone 39-13-4 when van Riemsdyk records at least one point (22-5-0 this season).
He'll be critical in the 24-team tournament and deserves at least a B when you factor in all the circumstances this season.
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