Welcome to the newest edition of “Point/Counterpoint,” where a pair of Flyers Faithful scribes present both sides of one particular issue with their own unique view and flair.
This week, Steve J. and Hal G. square off over whether or not the Flyers should rush James van Riemsdyk back to play in the playoffs.
First up Steve: At one point we were talking about James van Riemsdyk being ready for the middle of the first round of the playoffs. Now JVR has suffered another setback and probably won’t even play in the first round. As a young player with a good sized contract extension is there really any reason to rush him back? The Flyers have the personnel and depth in place to compete with anyone right now. Yes, we did experience JVR playing at his peak in the playoffs last year but he seemed pretty healthy at the time. He struggled earlier in the season with injuries that drastically brought down his overall play.
Hal: 11, 29, and 7. What do these numbers mean, Steve? Well sir, 11 is the number of games the Flyers played in the 2011 playoffs. 29 is total number of goals the Flyers scored and 7 is the number of goals Mr. James van Riemsdyk scored. I’m no math major, but that is just under 25% of the total team goals. JVR was a beast in the playoffs. At 22 years old, I think he is young enough to risk him coming back. It’s like making a trade for a top-6 forward while in the playoffs!
Steve: But is he a top 6 forward if he’s playing hurt? When van Riemsdyk is at his best he’s playing the role of big power forward, a role we’ve barely seen him in this year. He needs his full power and speed to be effective. The Flyers can win with what they have until he’s close to 100% and will be even better then.
Hal: Playoffs are a different beast and in the playoffs, you need players who are going to perform, and JVR has proven he is a big game performer! Right now, this team relies on rookies who have never played this many games before nor felt the pressure of the playoffs. Would you have sat Simon Gagne down two years ago? If the Flyers had, they may not have made that amazing run to the Stanley Cup Finals…
Hal: When JVR is able to play, I’m not saying to put him on the top line, but getting a player of his stature back into the line up is important – even if he is playing as little as 7-10 minutes. Put him on the 4th line with Couts and Talbot/Wellwood and see what kind of energy they bring.
Steve: JVR on the 4th line? That’s madness! The Flyers use their fourth line in ideal situations as a shutdown unit. Next thing I know you’ll be telling me that Briere should be used on the 4th line when he comes back! In worst case scenarios the 4th line is a goon squad. I don’t want JVR involved in either one of those.
Hal: As we’ve seen throughout the year, the Flyers 4th line is nowhere near a “Goon” line. Talbot has 19 goals, Couts has 13 and Wellwood/Rinaldo are both energy players that bring more than just “goon-like” qualities. I agree with you though, 4th line wouldn’t be the best, because the Flyers 4th line is a very good defensive line and matches against the top line of other teams (Hi Mr. Malkin). So you play him 3rd line. I’m quite alright with Read-Schenn-JVR combination. Some teams would kill for a 3rd line like the Flyers could skate out there.