James van Riemsdyk hopes to dazzle vs. Bruins in postseason again
|05.01.13 at 2:29 pm ET|
The Maple Leafs don’t have as much playoff experience, but they do have one guy who has seen their current opponent plenty in the postseason. And he’s 23.
James van Riemsdyk, who was traded to Toronto from Philadelphia in the offseason, is now facing the Bruins in the postseason for the third time in his career. Additionally, the UNH product knows the Garden well from his college days. He played in the double-overtime loss to BC in Hockey East tournament in 2008 and a year later was responsible for getting the ball rolling on the Flyers’ Game 7 comeback from a 3-0 defecit.
“It seems like every year in the playoffs it’s against the Bruins,” van Riemsdyk said Wednesday. “Obviously, they’re a strong team and it’s a fun building to play in here, but you’re going to have to bring a strong game if you want to be successful.”
As a rookie, van Riemsdyk got the Flyers on the board late in the first period with Boston up, 3-0. The Flyers came back to win the game, capping off a four-game comeback after the B’s took the first three games of the season.
A year later, the Flyers and B’s met in the Eastern Conference semifinals for the second consecutive year, with van Riemsdyk turning in one of the best single-game performances of that postseason from someone not named Tim Thomas in Game 2. He scored on his first shift and added another tally at 9:31 to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead in the first 10 minutes. The B’s came back to win the game in overtime, but that game should be remembered for being a showdown of van Riemsdyk vs. Thomas, the B’s goalie had to deal with eight shots from the young scorer.
While those two performances make for some major highlights of the 23-year-old’s career, JVR is hardly a Bruins killer. He has four goals in 11 playoff games against the B’s, but he hopes to add significantly to that total this year. After a successful season in which he scored 18 goals in his first campaign for the Leafs, he knows from experience that he’ll need to reach an even higher level this month and hopefully beyond.
“Obviously [the Bruins’] level of play kind of raises a bit in the playoffs, but these guys have had quite a bit of success the last few years,” van Riemsdyk said. “So you know you’re in for a tough game every time.”
The situation in which van Riemsdyk finds himself is an interesting one. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound winger went from being a kid on a team used to making the playoffs to someone with more postseason experience with most of his teammates on a team that is in the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
“Maybe those teams had a little more playoff experience, but obviously when you make the playoffs you know you’re doing something right,” he said when asked to compare the Flyers squads that faced the B’s to this Maple Leafs club. “We obviously have a lot of skill in this room. We’re capable of doing good things. It’s just a matter of us going out there and taking it one shift at a time and focusing on the details of the game.”