James van Riemsdyk is itching to get back in the Flyers lineup.
That was the word from practice today as JVR skated on a line with Matt Read and Jakub Voracek, a spot that had been filled by rookie forward Eric Wellwood in Wednesday’s 10-3 loss to Pittsburgh.
van Riemsdyk, 22, hasn’t played since Mar. 1 after breaking his foot against the Islanders but told Flyers beat writer Dave Isaac he “wants to be in” for Friday’s Game 5 when the Flyers look to eliminate the Penguins at CONSOL Energy Center.
It’s believed JVR would’ve been able to play in Game 4 had Peter Laviolette chose to go that route — van Riemsdyk took part in a full practice prior to the contest, but the Flyers bench boss didn’t want to change the lineup that’d won three straight.
“I’m just taking it day-by-day right now,” JVR told NHL.com prior to Game 4. “I’m on the right path so I’m just going to keep worrying about that. You just have to take it one game at a time and when your number gets called be ready to go.”
There are a couple of options for Philly to work van Riemsdyk back into the lineup. One could be a straight swap with Wellwood, who went minus-1 in 13:06 of action on Wednesday, while another could be inserting JVR and removing Zac Rinaldo, who’s lack of discipline has been a problem throughout the series (46 PIM through four games.)
If van Riemsdyk does return for Game 5, it’ll add extra firepower to an already explosive Flyers offense. He tied for the team lead in goalscoring last postseason (7G in 11GP) and was tabbed by many as Philadelphia’s best player throughout.
Brent Burns, Drew Doughty and Erik Karlsson have been named finalists for the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman, but the debate about who should win is likely to persist right through to June 22 and the annual NHL Awards.
Not only did Karlsson, last year’s Norris winner, lead all blue liners is points with 82, he led the league in assists with 66 and finished tied with Joe Thornton for fourth in the entire NHL in total points. Those lofty offensive totals could make the Ottawa Senators star the clear favorite to claim the award for a third time in his career.
Karlsson is the first NHL defenseman to score at least 82 in a season since Brian Leetch of the New York Rangers (85 points) and Ray Bourque of the Boston Bruins (82 points) in 1995-96.
Burns — is there an award for most outrageous beard? — is also coming off an impressive regular season, finishing just shy of the 30-goal mark with 27 and 75 points in 82 games for the Sharks. He’s also had a strong showing in the post-season, as well, with eight points in the opening round versus L.A.
Doughty’s offensive numbers don’t match up with the production from Karlsson or Burns, with 51 points in 82 games for the Kings. There were eight defensemen ahead of him in overall point production. But he’s often recognized for logging hefty amounts of ice time, averaging 28:01 in the regular season, on a Kings team that often dominates puck possession at even strength.
“If you’re going to win, I don’t care how good you are, you’re going to have to play the other side of the puck,” Kings GM Dean Lombardi recently said to the Associated Press.
“You’re going to have to make those little plays that aren’t going to show up on the highlights. (Doughty’s) defensive partners — the little things he’ll do just to get his partner time to make a play. He’s three steps ahead of everything, and because he is that, he makes it look easy.”
They were the top teams in the Western Conference during the regular season, with 109 and 107 points, respectively. And now, the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues clash with a second-round series in the playoffs. You can catch Game 1 between these Central Division foes on NBCSN (8 p.m. ET) or online using NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
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Some links to check out for tonight’s game:
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Here are PHT’s second-round playoff predictions
Nine days after getting prized prospect goalie Thatcher Demko under contract, the Vancouver Canucks have inked another college puck stopper.
The Canucks have signed college free agent goalie Michael Garteig to a one-year entry-level contract, the team announced Friday. Garteig recently completed his senior year with Quinnipiac University, which won the ECAC championship but lost the NCAA championship game to North Dakota earlier this month.
Garteig, 24, posted a 32-4-7 record with a .924 save percentage and a career best eight shutouts this season. He was also once again nominated for the 2016 Mike Richter Award.
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) The Buffalo Sabres have re-signed forward Johan Larsson to a one-year contract.
Larsson was eligible to become a restricted free agent once his contract expired this summer. The Swedish-born player is coming off a season in which he set career bests with 10 goals, 17 points and 74 games. He also finished tied with rookie center Jack Eichel in scoring five game-winning goals.
Overall, he has 16 goals and 21 assists in 142 games for the Sabres.
Buffalo acquired Larsson in a trade that sent former Sabres captain Jason Pominville to Minnesota in April 2013. The Wild selected Larsson in the second round of the 2010 draft.
Contractual details, per the Buffalo News: