Tag Archives: james vanriemsdyk

What Went Wrong in 2011

Coming off an exceptional Stanely Cup Final run in 2010 that left them two wins short of glory, the Philadelphia Flyers were poised to make a return with a deeper defensive corps and experience from a deep run on their side. In the first half of the season, the Flyers were among the best in the league, actually holding down the top spot in the league for some time. They were beating some of the best teams in the league, and some of them pretty handily. They were getting strong defensive play, surprise goaltending from their rookie goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, and Claude Giroux, Ville Leino, and Danny Briere were continuing their hot streak after an amazing playoff run. Fast forward to the end of March, and the Flyers still have a chance to lock up the #1 seed even after coasting through the second half of the season. After failing to beat some teams who were out of the playoff picture along with some divisional opponents, the Flyers finished the season as the #2 seed to face the seventh seeded red-hot Buffalo Sabres. This match-up had the hottest team from the first half of the season (Philly) playing the arguably hottest team in the second half (Buffalo). After a few games of musical goalies and physicality, the Flyers emerged victorious in a Game 7 demolishing of the Sabres. The Flyers apparently righted the ship, and were playing good hockey again. Until of course, they were utterly dominated (albeit Game 2) and got swept in the second round by a hungry and focused Boston Bruins team. So why did this team come up VERY short of its intended goal?
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Flyers Draw Boston in the 2nd Round; Semi-Finals Rematch

We all remember what happened last year, when the Flyers made history against the Bruins in the second round of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs. With the Lightning taking on the Capitals in the other Eastern Conference match-up, the Flyers and Bruins will once again meet in another series that promises to be just as physical and exciting as last year’s.

I will be posting a preview of the series sometime tomorrow; evaluating the momentum each team has after finishing a seven game series in the first round and what to look for as far as match-ups. This will be another tough test for the Flyers, and it all starts on Saturday.

Game 7 the other night was a fantastic effort by the Flyers all around for a complete team win. Chasing Ryan Miller from the net is no easy task, and the game finally followed the way the Flyers had been playing for most of the series. The Flyers will be facing another good American goalie in Tim Thomas for this series, so they’ll have their work cut out for them. Here are my three star players of the past series:

James VanRiemsdyk: This guy is easy to pick out. He was a never-ending motor out there, hitting everything and shooting the puck every chance he got. Even though he does not have as many goals as some other players, his role on the team shows in the way he plays. It’s no mistake why he was drafted so high in 2007, and I look forward to another series with him creating offense.

Dan Carcillo: When Carcillo has 2 goals in a playoff series, you know he has to be doing something right. In the first couple games he was on the fourth line as usual with Betts and Powe, but moved up once Nodl and Carter went down with an injury and Zherdev came in. He got to play with other gritty forwards Richards and Versteeg, and they were quite a line out there. He provided a lot of energy for the team with his hits and was great on the forecheck.

Brian Boucher: Even with his poor performance in Game 5, Brian Boucher is one of the reasons the Flyers beat the Sabres. His play was not overall spectacular, but he made the saves he had to minus one bad period and kept the Flyers in the game at times. With a tight defense around him and the calming presence he has while playing the puck, Boosh has solidified his starting role (for now).

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Posted by on April 28, 2011 in Playoffs


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Game 2 a Must-Win?

*Image courtesy of Flyers official site.
Last night’s loss was a tough one. Losing a close game at home like that to start the series should never feel good, especially when your team carried the play for most of the game. The Flyers get back at it on Saturday though, and this is as much as a “must-win” can be for Game 2 in a series. The Flyers did a lot of things well last night, but there are some things they need to improve on. Once again, Ryan Miller proved to be the great goalie he is, but he was not tested much. The quantity of chances were there, but some of them lacked quality. Miller had too easy of a time in front of his crease with the Flyers not opting to get in his face as much as they should. This directly affected their powerplay being 0% on the night, including a brief 5-on-3 that did not execute.

To put it simply, the Flyers’ powerplay looked like they had some life at times, but still failed to create quality scoring chances on a solid Buffalo penalty kill. The last powerplay of the game with a great chance to tie the game up late in the third went awry, and no chances were created… leaving the Flyers’ comeback seem improbable. The Flyers killed off Buffalo’s only powerplay, and Bobrovsky looked like a good goaltender for most of the game. His one juicy rebound left a perfect scoring opportunity for Buffalo’s Patrick Kaleta, and he buried it. The Flyers out-shot them 35-25, and tied their regular season high with 40 hits in the game. It was just one of those games that we all knew could happen; Miller made the saves he had to and the Flyers couldn’t execute when it came down to the wire.

I’m not sure if the line-up/lines will change at all for tomorrow’s 5 PM puck drop. I would have liked to see Zherdev get in the game last night, his scoring touch could have helped. But I do understand Laviolette’s logic on that one. He had two scoring lines (Briere and Carter’s) and two checking/gritty lines (Richards and Betts’). A balanced defensive and offensive attack to take on Buffalo, but we shall see. Nodl played well last night, but I still would like to see Zherdev play for somebody. The physical game was there last night, but I’d still like to think there can be some improvement made. If they can do a better job of making Miller’s life tough in the crease and get in his face, the goals will come. The one thing that can go wrong is if they think they played a great game last night, then come out tomorrow not hungry for the puck. If that happens, the series will be over sooner than we think.

I still say Flyers in 6, the Sabres stole a close game on the road and kudos to them, but there’s a lot of hockey left. JVR had a great game last night, and I expect him to cash in tomorrow. Maybe Pronger will be back tomorrow? Who knows. Not time to panic Flyers fans, we have a good team. They just have to execute and keep it simple. Let’s Go Flyers!

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Posted by on April 15, 2011 in Playoffs


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One Piece Added: Dan Hamhuis to the Defensive Corps

This afternoon the Flyers reported that they acquired the rights to Nashville defenseman Dan Hamhuis. Hamhuis should not be a name that is new to you if you followed trade rumors at the trade deadline this season. He was one of the main players the Flyers were looking for along with Florida goalie Thomas Vokoun. However, Nashville, like back in March, will not be able to re-sign Hamhuis when he hits free-agency July 1st, so the Flyers gave them their former first-round pick Ryan Parent for the rights to Hamhuis and a conditional 2011 NHL Draft Pick.

This is great news for Flyers fans, who I think will find Hamhuis a lot more welcoming than Ryan Parent’s play the past two seasons. Our top-four defenseman are already some of the better in the league between Pronger, Timonen, Carle, and Coburn. The question is now, for how much do we sign this Hamhuis guy and where will he fit? He can throw his body around, and is reliable in pretty much any situation. I haven’t watched a lot of him obviously, but from what I’ve seen and heard there is nothing but good things about this guy. The best part? He’s 27 and is still coming into his own. Sounds like a great move by Homer and Co.

Braydon Coburn is the only defenseman out of our top four that I can see going if we were to dump salary in order to sign Hamhuis. Maybe get a team to pay his tender since he’s a RFA. However, I believe Coburn could be a strong 3rd pairing guy and make our defensive depth great, so maybe a forward would be better. You have to think we still might make moves for a goalie soon, and I’m expecting a blockbuster trade before or at the NHL draft, depending on how free agency goes. Jeff Carter or Hartnell would be obvious trades to make to clear cap space and get something good in return, but Hartnell would need to waive his NTC and a lot of teams will be asking for VanRiemsdyk or Giroux. There’s no way we part with Giroux, but it wouldn’t be so shocking if JVR was sent packing for something big, would it?

We’ll have more soon.


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Back to Chicago

It feels like forever since the Flyers have played a road game. The Flyers have won their two home games, and have made it a best-of-three series from here on out with only one home game left. Tonight the series shifts back to Chicago for another all-important Game 5. The Flyers have arguably taken the momentum in this series after winning the past two games at home pretty decisively. Game 3 ended in overtime, but the Flyers were pressing and close to scoring many times in that third period. The Flyers came out hard in Game 4 and got a big lead early before letting a couple bounces go in at the end to make things interesting. Richards finally got his goal that he needed, so I guess our miracle was answered. Carter also got the empty-netter, which may or may not have an effect on his game tonight. Will he finally start making some better plays? JVR had some nice shifts and played pretty physically. He was key on the play with his assist on the Matt Carle goal, and it was good to see him get involved after sitting for two games. Leighton also had his best game of the series… But they’ll all need to do better.

The Blackhawks finally seemed to play with some desperation at the end of Game 4, and they will definitely continue that tonight. The Flyers can put the Hawks in a terrible position with a win tonight. A win tonight would secure that they only need one more win to win the Stanley Cup, with a home game coming next. There’s a great chance here for the Flyers to take total control of the series. A win in Chicago for the opportunity to win the Cup on home ice… Now that’d be something.

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Posted by on June 6, 2010 in Playoffs


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Let’s Tie it Up!

Game 4 sure has all the storylines you could want to write about in a hockey game. The goalie duel, the young talent, the chance for the Flyers to take back momentum going to Chicago, Chicago’s chance to put a stranglehold on the series… Tonight is simply big. Each passing day and game makes the next one bigger, and Game 4 is the game in every series were something big can really change the outlook for each team. Don’t expect the Hawks to come out sloppy, because they’re going to do essentially everything in their power to not let this series be tied up. For the Stanley Cup, every game is becoming a must-win, because the situation it puts you in after the first two games is dire.

On Wednesday night… what more can be said about the continued late-game dominance by our guys? The past two games, the Flyers have greatly out-shot the Hawks in the third period and have carried the play. Their conditioning must be paying off because they are wearing the Hawks defenders down and beating them to loose pucks and winning battles along the boards in the third. These games have been tight as anything, and tonight should be more of the same. Claude Giroux was the hero last game, with a great deflection from Matt Carle. The play was similar to the one Carle set up Gagne for in Game 4 of the Boston series, just on the other side of the ice and with a little less movement by the players. I could watch this one all day:

A couple things that bugged me about Wednesday: Officiating and Jeff Carter. Officiating just came down to the call on Carcillo. That really angered me. Carbomb laid what Laviolette called a “clean hockey hit” and was called for “charging”. I was beyond pissed off at that point, but glad that the Hawks couldn’t cash in. Their special teams have been lacking, and the Flyers are starting to click on the powerplay. That needs to continue.

Jeff Carter on the other hand, seems to like shooting the puck into defenders ankles. I don’t know whether he’s still hurting really bad from his injuries or what, but he needs to dump the puck in or get rid of it. Too many turnovers to a great counter-attack team that are waiting to catch you with your pants down is no way to win a game, series, or Stanley Cup. He’s a great shooter, but it really aggravates me when he continuously shoots into the skates/shins of the other team. I won’t go into it now, but I’ve been saying since last year they were going to trade Carter soon. I may not be too far off with that assessment, and it seems a lot of people are coming to that conclusion too. But I won’t go there, we have a series and a big trophy to win first.

Expect JVR to make his return tonight after being benched for two games. Carcillo was not seen on the ice in the third period and overtime, so I see JVR coming into the line-up and reuniting with Asham and Giroux. If that line can get going, it will be a hell of a battle. Speaking of which, Richie and Gags, can we get a goal tonight? Do we need a miracle here for you guys to get on the score sheet?

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Posted by on June 4, 2010 in Playoffs


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Home Sweet Home

People can argue home-ice is not a factor in the playoffs all they want; in the Finals, it definitely is. The Flyers failed to get a split in the first two games after dropping two one-goal decisions in a row. Tonight they look to avoid that terrible 3-0 hole and change the landscape of the series. Mike Richards needs to do something at the Wachovia Center tonight, whether it is a big hit or goal. He is the kind of guy that feeds off the crowd, and if he can do something big like he did in Game 5 of the Montreal series, this team will get behind him. I really liked Bartulis’ play the other night. The rookie defenseman did not make any huge mistakes that I can recall, and he actually did a good job of eating up some minutes to give our top four a rest. Braydon Coburn played a hell of a game as well, and if he can continue that style of play our top two pairings will continue to be lights-out. Scott Hartnell deserves a mention too because he was a forechecking machine and in that 3rd period burst he simply would not give up and kept getting the puck to his teammates with his strong board play.

The first two games of the series are over, and the Hawks are flying high right now. They’re a young team and could possibly be getting a little too confident. They have not played in Philadelphia yet. I don’t care how loud they say San Jose is, this team hasn’t played a home Final game in 13 years. The fans are ready, the team will be ready, and the Hawks are going to see what a loud building is. I know they’re 7-1 on the road, but that’s the previous three series. This series is the one I’m worried about, and if the Flyers lose tonight, I will be very worried.

No word yet on whether JVR will still be a healthy scratch in lieu of Carbomb. I think Carbomb especially is the kind of guy that will help you at home with some energy and big hits to get the crowd into it. He’s slowly becoming a fan favorite, and I think his efforts will get his team and the crowd up. His strong play along the boards rivals that of JVR who definitely has more potential and talent, but I don’t think he’s ready for this type of game just yet.

Tonight’s game will either swing the momentum in the Flyers favor, or give Chicago every reason to close this thing out. I firmly believe the Flyers will come out fired up and get behind their crowd to victory. This team has come too far to lose three straight to Chicago. Let’s see some production from the Richards line with Carter and Gagne even strength, that line could be the game-changer for us. They need to build on the good forecheck they established in the third period and carry that over into tonight’s game. Niemi won’t be able to stop shots forever.

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Posted by on June 2, 2010 in Playoffs


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