Flyers

The art of James van Riemsdyk that isn't coming too late

The art of James van Riemsdyk that isn't coming too late

Everyone envisioned this.

James van Riemsdyk putting on a skills clinic around the net, doing damage and being one of the biggest differences in a Flyers win.

Nobody thought it would take until Game 44 for it to really show.

But here the Flyers are, 16-22-6, 30th in the NHL with 38 points and trying to dig out of a hole that appears way too deep. From Oct. 9 to Nov. 13, they didn't have van Riemsdyk for 16 games because of a lower-body injury. His return started slowly and before you knew it, the Flyers were in a mess with a massive shake-up through the front office and coaching staff.

"JVR is a proud player and I think somewhere along the way he has kind of gotten lost in the shuffle," Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon said Thursday night after a 2-1 win over the Stars. "Expectations for himself coming in here, free-agent signing and getting hurt the second game. That probably put him behind the eight ball, never really got on a roll."

On the day in which the Flyers briefly sat in last place of the 31-team NHL standings, van Riemsdyk brought his best stuff, accounting for both of the Flyers' goals. The first came off a nifty reverse pass from van Riemsdyk to Travis Konecny, while the second was JVR in front of the net, redirecting and getting a bounce.

So much of van Riemsdyk's game is about complementing others, almost as if his line is a puzzle and he knows exactly how to fit around his fellow pieces.

Gordon, who knows van Riemsdyk well, moved him back to the first line with Claude Giroux and Konecny. That move can pay off for the Flyers because of van Riemsdyk's smarts, a 6-foot-3, 217-pound winger who is more than just size.

He gave a glimpse into his thinking and how he styles his game, which produced a pair of 30-goal seasons before his return to the Flyers on a five-year, $35 million contract last summer.

(Alex) Ovechkin, guys like that, (Steven) Stamkos — it's not like they're necessarily blasting around, sprinting and stopping, doing all this stuff. They're kind of meandering and then they find that soft spot and everyone's like, 'How did he get there?' Well, he knows where to go and he knows how to get into the right spot when the guy who has the puck is ready to pass it, so that's what you try to learn over the course of your career. There are different things you try to watch and observe.

While uncertainty surrounds the Flyers, the 29-year-old van Riemsdyk is undoubtedly here and a large piece moving forward. Clicking with Giroux and Konecny could give this season a shot, but will be of even greater importance down the line.

"I think the biggest thing about chemistry is it's nothing more than predictability," van Riemsdyk said. "You know the guys' tendencies and you get that through repetition. I've played with G in the past, so I have some of that, I know what he's looking for and the different plays he's capable of making, which is a lot of them.

"The roles I've been in in the past, it's a lot of net-front stuff, stretch guy on set breakouts, different things like that. A lot of that is reading off of other players and their speed."

An art van Riemsdyk can put on display. If it feels too late, keep it in mind for the future.

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Senators' Brady Tkachuk fined maximum allowable amount for crosscheck on Flyers' Scott Laughton

Senators' Brady Tkachuk fined maximum allowable amount for crosscheck on Flyers' Scott Laughton

Suffice it to say Scott Laughton got the best of the Senators on Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center.

He was the first star in the Flyers' 4-3 victory, scored the game-winning goal during the third period, added an assist, stood up for his teammates and got under the skin of Ottawa forward Brady Tkachuk.

So much so that Tkachuk went after Laughton, crosschecking the 25-year-old forward in the back and jumping him during the final minute of regulation. The NHL reacted quickly to the play, fining Tkachuk $2,486.56, the maximum allowable under the CBA.

Following his third-period marker, Laughton had words for the Senators' bench. He was fired up, especially after Ottawa's hits on Travis Konecny and Joel Farabee, which led to some fights. Laughton could not partake in the dropping of the gloves because he recently returned following surgery on a broken finger, which is still healing.


I knew it was coming. It’s part of the game when you do that stuff and chirp the bench, you know it’s going to come. I just can’t drop my gloves right now with my finger and everything. I’ve got some padding there so once I do that, I guess it’s a penalty or something. That’s just the way it went.

- Laughton

But Laughton still had the backs of his teammates. He was physical throughout, especially after the first-period hits on Konecny and Farabee. He also allowed his game to do the talking.

Laughton has four goals in his last six contests and the Flyers are 6-1-1 since his return following a 13-game absence because of the finger injury.

Would Laughton have liked to fight?

"Yeah," he said.

He did plenty enough.

Tkachuk's crosscheck and check to the league are proof of Laughton's work.

 

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Multiple fights, a potential costly injury to Travis Konecny and a different kind of Flyers win over Senators

Multiple fights, a potential costly injury to Travis Konecny and a different kind of Flyers win over Senators

Updated: 4:22 p.m.

BOX SCORE 

The win was ugly.

But a really good one for the Flyers.

A lesser opponent tried to work them up, throw them off, and the Flyers still found a way to pull out a 4-3 decision over the Senators on Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center.

They did so while losing their best player during the first period and despite being outshot 30-21.

Scott Laughton was superb yet again with a multi-point game. He was physical when the game became physical and he scored the game-winning goal, his fourth marker in the last six games.

The Flyers (17-8-5) showed they can win when they’re far from their best, which is a good sign. They are 12-3-4 with 28 points since Nov. 1. The Capitals entered the day with an NHL-leading 28 points over that span.

The Senators (12-17-1) have lost six of their last seven games.

• The biggest storyline to come from Saturday’s game was Travis Konecny leaving the ice and never returning following a crushing hit by Mark Borowiecki in the first period.

The fights then broke out with Jakub Voracek and Joel Farabee doing the honors (see story).

The 22-year-old Konecny already had a goal in the game and has been arguably the Flyers’ most important piece to their turnaround through two months of this season.

Konecny was presumably getting checked for a concussion. If he were to miss any time, it would be a significant loss for the Flyers, who are 2-4-4 when Konecny goes scoreless in a game.

After the game, head coach Alain Vigneault said Konecny had an upper-body injury and the Flyers would have further updates Monday.

• Ivan Provorov kept on humming Saturday, matching his goal total of seven from last season by sending home a third-period missile to put the Flyers ahead 3-2 (see highlights).

The Flyers are 15-5-4 since Oct. 21. Over that stretch, Provorov has six goals, nine assists and a plus-10 mark.

• The Senators’ game-tying goal in the second period was an inexcusable one to give up by the Flyers. Carter Hart and Shayne Gostisbehere misread each other terribly, which allowed Anthony Duclair to swoop in for a shorthanded marker.

Both Hart and Gostisbehere need to be more aware in that situation.

The good news is Gostisbehere continues to push offensively and Hart has been awfully good since Nov. 1 — really, all season for that matter.

Gostisbehere has three goals in five games following a three-game benching. The 26-year-old defenseman had one goal in his previous 22 games.

Hart finished with 27 saves.

• Morgan Frost picked up his first point in eight games on Konecny’s goal.

Before the game, Vigneault expressed his confidence in the 20-year-old center who is centering the Flyers’ top line.

The 2017 first-round pick deserves some patience just like a lot of young players.

• Next week, the Flyers open a three-game road trip, which features matchups with the Avalanche on Wednesday (9:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN), the Wild on Saturday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP) and the Jets on Sunday (5 p.m. ET/NBCSP+).

 

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