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January 6 Philadelphia Daily News:
“As the Flyers inch closer to the midpoint in their grueling, 82-game march, coach Peter Laviolette looks at James van Riemsdyk’s season in two distinct parts: from Nov. 18 until the present, and the first chunk of games prior to that.
Van Riemsdyk’s stats paint a clear enough picture, with just four assists and no goals to show for his first 15 games and nine goals and five assists in the 20 games since.
On the ice, he looks like a totally different player.
“He’s skating,” Laviolette said. “He’s working. He’s trying to be physical. He’s generating an awful lot of chances for us offensively. His line did a great job ; they matched up mostly against [Henrik] Zetterberg.”
Van Riemsdyk added another goal in Sunday’s win over the formidable Red Wings, helping snap an 0-14-2 streak in Detroit that began before the 21-year-old was born. The Middletown, N.J., native brings that confidence into New Jersey tonight, where he has scored five points in seven career games against his hometown Devils.
Laviolette said he has watched van Riemsdyk mature not just since he took over as head coach last December, but even since the start of this season.
“He’s actually matured since this year,” Laviolette said. “He came into camp and he started really well, he hit a bit of a patch there, and since he’s come back from that, if you look at the scoring chances, he is our most consistent player.”
January 6 Philadelphia Inquirer:
“The Flyers have frequently played to the level of their competition this season.
Example: They are 5-1-1 against league heavyweights Pittsburgh, Washington, and Detroit, but they have just two wins in six games against scuffling teams such as Columbus, Calgary, New Jersey, and Florida.
In other words, they should not be looking past the woeful New Jersey Devils, their opponent in a home-and-home series that starts in Newark on Thursday night.
“I think we’ve been guilty of doing that before,” center Blair Betts said after Wednesday’s practice in Voorhees. “Just from the last few games Jersey has played, they’re playing pretty well. They’re a dangerous team and have great players that can hurt you if you’re not careful. These are two games we definitely need to win, for sure.”
In addition to Thursday, the teams will play at the Wells Fargo Center in a Saturday matinee.
“We’ve got to get to the mind frame of bringing it every practice and every game . . . no matter who we’re playing,” defenseman Sean O’Donnell said. “I don’t think we’ll have any problem getting up for these games at all.”
New Jersey (10-27-2), which recently brought Jacques Lemaire back as its coach, is last in the NHL with 22 points, but it does own a 2-1, shoot-out win over the visiting Flyers on Nov. 27.
January 6 Philadelphia Inquirer:
“The Flyers received good medical news on Wednesday: Chris Pronger, the heart of the team’s defense, was cleared to start some light skating on Thursday.
Pronger, 36, broke his right foot blocking a shot in Montreal on Dec. 15 and, at the time, it was estimated he would miss four to six weeks.
Without Pronger, the Flyers have allowed 23 goals in six games (3.8 per game) and are 3-3.”
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