Monday, November 8, 2010

Saving Mr. Initials

They couldn't send him down could they?

Well it's official, the Flyers sent down Eric Wellwood today instead of Andreas Nodl or the 2007 second overall pick, James van Riemsdyk.

Before anyone gets into the JVR situation, I should mention that Wellwood will be back with the Flyers. It may not be tomorrow, next week or next month, but believe me, the Flyers saw enough out of him to realize he has the potential to be a pretty good NHL hockey player. Wellwood will return.

But with the "demotion" of Wellwood, that means Mr. van Riemsdyk is still with the big club, but as of now, is still a health scratch with the team. JVR's 0 goals and 4 assists put him in 14th place on the team in points behind such snipers as Blair Betts and Darroll Powe. Aside from Jody Shelley, van Riemsdyk is the only offenseman on the team with at least four games played who doesn't have a goal.

Why wouldn't Peter Laviolette scratch him? The only other player on the Flyers who has given less to this team is Jody Shelley. But at least Shelley's playing a grinding role on the fourth line with Dan Carcillo and Blair Betts. The only thing JVR has done all season is turn the puck over and show that either he or the weight scale lied about him working out this summer.

A few games ago Laviolette scratched Nikolay Zherdev because of his lack of production and negative attitude towards playing time. And when Zherdev returned to the lineup he looked rejuvenated and his play has gotten progressively better since he came back. Zherdev has two goals, 11 shots and is a +2 in four games since his two game absence. It's not earth-shattering, but it's better than his two goals, 0 assists and a -1 in nine games before the wake-up call.

So maybe the time off will help out the Flyers' youngster. It certainly helped Zherdev. And especially since the Flyers are going on their annual "team bonding" trip, the time off could help van Riemsdyk relax a bit and come back with a goal in mind (and on the ice).

But it's not just the time off that's going to make JVR better. He needs to realize what his role is on the ice. He needs to stop trying to do too much. It seems as if he's trying to create, develop and finish a play every shift he has. He needs to play his part on the ice. Take a pass, make a pass, take a hit, deliver a hit and just get off the ice. He needs to be doing more of this and less of this.

Be smart on the ice Riemer, get to the net, grind it out, plant yourself in front of the goalie and good things will happen. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither was Rick Nash.

And James van Riemsdyk won't be either.

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