Thursday, May 5, 2011

2011 NHL Playoffs: The JvR Show

There's a new wave of talent coming into the NHL. Of the top 30 scorers in the NHL this season, 12 of them were 25 years old or younger. This is a positive development for the NHL, a league constantly trying to engulf new fans into the game. The Philadelphia Flyers build through the draft with young talent and have no accumulated a good core for their future. Among them are Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Claude Giroux, Sergei Bobrovsky, and several others. However, there is one other player that the entire NHL has had its eyes on as of late. James van Riemsdyk, Philadelphia's "underrated" 2nd overall pick back in the 2007 NHL Draft. Which leaves hockey buffs with this question: can a No. 2 pick really be considered "underrated"? You bet he can. That is exactly what van Riemsdyk is being seen as now as Chicago's Patrick Kane soaks in the praise and glory that comes with a Stanley Cup. 

James van Riemsdyk's playoff performance so far has been more than mere flashes of brilliance. In most situations, van Riemsdyk, or JVR, has been the best player on the ice. So far in nine post-season games, van Riemsdyk has posted seven goals, leading all NHL players this postseason. Van Riemsdyk has now scored in five straight playoff games and has had at least eight shots in five games as well. For the most part this spring, van Riemsdyk has been a "one-man wrecking crew" for the orange and black. Aside from himself, Claude Giroux and Daniel Briere, not many other Flyers have shown up in these playoffs yet. Van Riemsdyk and Briere have paced the Flyers with 7 goals apiece and Giroux's added 12 points.

Back in the Summer of 2007, following the Philadelphia Flyers' worst season in years, they received the 2nd overall pick in the NHL Draft. The Flyers were upset about this at the time, as Patrick Kane was the consensus No. 1 pick and was dubbed "NHL-ready." However, many wonder now if van Riemsdyk could be better for the Flyers than Kane in the long run. In Monday night's Game 2 against the Boston Bruins, van Riemsdyk single-handedly took over and nearly evened the series up himself. Every time JVR touched the ice, magic happened and opportunities were coming Philadelphia's way. Tim Thomas, who stopped 52 shots, was peppered frequently by JVR, and even allowed two early goals to the Philly phenom.

The 22-year-old has shown just a brief glimpse of his
talent as he looks to be Philly's next 30-goal scorer
Now that van Riemsdyk (left) is learning more about himself and his size, he's been able to use it to his advantage for the Flyers. Van Riemsdyk, in my opinion, is reminiscent of a young Eric Lindros. He's the type of guy that can dominate and even win you a hockey game. To think that van Riemsdyk is one in a long lineage of offensive weapons in Philadelphia's arsenal is frightening for opponents.Van Riemsdyk has broken out of his proverbial shell this post-season and provided the Flyers with a necessary scoring boost. Van Riemsdyk posted 40 points (21 goals) in 2010. He was amongst the top scorers from his draft class, with only Kane and Edmonton's Sam Gagner putting up more points. If the Flyers are to overcome the Bruins, JVR will have to be the catalyst as he was on Monday night. People forget also that it was actually JVR who got the comeback started against the Bruins in Game 7 in last year's epic comeback, after they quickly fell behind 3-0 in the 1st period. The "learning curve" has definitely favored van Riemsdyk early on as he's even overcome being benched by coach Peter Laviolette earlier this season. Finally, van Riemsdyk has found his niche in the lineup and is certainly here to stay. The patience of the Flyers' coaching staff with van Riemsdyk is admirable, and the phenom known as JVR is about to be unleashed.

No comments:

Post a Comment