The Philadelphia Flyers might have issues here and there, but they’re an Eastern Conference powerhouse thanks to an expensive defense, the out-of-left-field great play of potential Calder Trophy candidate Sergei Bobrovsky and an incredibly deep offense.
Of course, with all that depth among forwards, someone usually gets lost in the shuffle. At different points in this early season, Daniel Carcillo and Nikolai Zherdev found themselves on the healthy scratch list.
Now, it seems like James van Riemsdyk is the latest forward to get the healthy scratch treatment. In 13 games, the budding power forward hasn’t scored a single goal, notching four assists and a +2 rating while averaging 14:06 minutes per game. Apparently the Flyers want to light a fire under van Riemdsyk by keeping him out of games, even if he might have to wait a while to return. Here is the story from Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
There are no immediate plans for James van Riemsdyk’s return, but when he does come back, coach Peter Laviolette wants the young Flyers winger to take his benching personally.
“When James gets back in there, you hope it burns him a little bit to be out of the lineup and he comes back with revitalized energy, like Z [Nik Zherdev] did, and makes it a point to show he shouldn’t have come out of the lineup – and shouldn’t come out anymore,” Laviolette said this week in a conference call with reporters.
Getting back in the lineup, however, won’t be so simple. Andreas Nodl’s strong play could keep the 21-year-old van Riemsdyk sidelined for a while. He has been a healthy scratch the last two games.
“There are tough decisions to be made,” said Laviolette, whose Flyers play his former team, the Carolina Hurricanes, on Thursday. “You’re trying to win hockey games every night. James got caught in a numbers game. He’s got to continue to practice hard, and when he gets that opportunity and gets get back in there . . . you want to make it a point to let everyone know that [a benching] is not going to happen again.”
Van Riemsdyk comes in with a considerable amount of pressure, as he was the second pick of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft behind Patrick Kane. It seemed like he was beginning to live up to that hype – he had a solid year last season, with 15 goals – but the 6’3″ 200 lbs. forward has plenty of room to improve.
Don’t be surprised if the Flyers reap the benefits from the negative reinforcement-based motivation ploy of sitting van Riemsdyk.