Who would have guessed that there is an upside to having a concussion?
For Philadelphia Flyers left winger James van Riemsdyk, that was one way of looking at the most serious of a series of injuries that have limited him to only 43 games this season.
The Middletown native was injured in a Jan. 7 game against the Ottawa Senators and wound up missing 15 games between Jan. 14 and Feb. 15 with a concussion. it was during that period when rumors spread suggesting van Riemsdyk might be traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs or another team eager to get him.
“That was an interesting thing. When all those rumors went down I was shielded with my concussion,” van Riemsdyk told The Star-Ledger. “we all know there’s not much you can control unless you have a no-movement clause in your contract.
“this is a great group to be part of here (in Philadelphia) and I want to continue to be part of it here.”
Van Riemsdyk, 22, has a limited no-movement clause in 2013-14 and 2014-15, but it hasn’t kicked in yet.
“It’s not up to me how long I’m going to be here,” he said. “The guys here get along well on and off the ice. I’m happy to be here for now.”
He is a talent, but won’t finish this season with great numbers. In late November, van Riemsdyk missed four games with an abdominal muscle injury and is currently sidelined after undergoing surgery for a broken left foot suffered on March 1 when he was hit by a Milan Jurcina shot.
As luck would have it, van Riemsdyk was able to see his brother, Brendan, score a goal for Christian Brothers Academy in the state non-public high school championship game against Delbarton nine days ago.
“That was pretty heartbreaking,” James said of CBA’s 3-2 loss. “But I was at The Rock that Friday for the final, which is the one positive that came out of my broken foot. My dad’s friend has a box for Devils games.”
Is there a future in the NHL for another van Riemsdyk?
“I’m anxious to watch how (Brendan) develops,” James said. “He’s probably as tall as me but not as physically developed. It’s a matter of filling out. He’s more of a passer than I am, good at drawing guys to him and working in the corners.”
Then there is Trevor, a defenseman at the University of new Hampshire.
“Of the three brothers, he was the shortest and most under-developed,” James noted. “He shot up. He made the Hockey East all-rookie team. I’m really proud of both of my brothers. They hear things on the ice like, ‘Your brother stinks’ or ‘You’ll never be as good as your brother.’ Not easy.”
Nor has this season been easy for James, who had surgery March 6 and is expected to be out four to six weeks from that date.
“If my math is good, I’ll be back for the start of the playoffs,” he said. “That’s not an ideal time to come back, but I know what I can do. I’m confident in myself and my abilities.
“When you’re envisioning your season in the summer, you have hopes and high goals. It’s been tough. The injuries started in training camp and I haven’t been able to shake them. you have to have mental toughness to get through it.”
HOW ‘VALUABLE’ IS STAMKOS?
Steven Stamkos is likely to be the NHL’s only 50-goal scorer this season, a figure he has already reached. He kept the Tampa Bay Lightning in the playoff race with his 10 game-winning goals and 84 points.
So should he be considered for the Hart Trophy as most Valuable Player?
“no question,” Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman told the Tampa Bay Times. “He’s elevated his play and scored so many goals that were part of our comeback. He’s such a big part of our team, he should get serious consideration, in my opinion.”
Because the Lightning won’t make the playoffs, Stamkos probably won’t win the Hart.
“The name of the game is to win, so generally you’re going to look at who had the biggest impact on a winning team,” Yzerman said. “But every now and then a player is so good and so important to his team, even if they don’t make the playoffs, you have to take a look at him.”
Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason has offered an odd explanation for his improvement over the past month: his equipment was too small. Goalie coach Ian Clark revealed that Mason changed every bit of gear except for his helmet.
“we totally redesigned his equipment,” Clark told the Columbus Dispatch. “He was playing undersized relative to league limits.”
Heading into Saturday night, Mason was 7-3-1 with a 2.67 goals-against and .922 save percentage wearing the XXL gear. He’d won only five of his previous 22 games.
“there were times with the old stuff when I was getting hit in the ribs and was full of bruises,” Mason said. “you almost become scared of getting hit with the puck, so you’re turning your body, and ? that’s not the right way to play. with the new stuff you have confidence that pucks aren’t going to hurt you, and because it is larger, some pucks that might have squeaked through before are now hitting a piece of equipment.”
Why’d he wait so long to change his equipment? “I never knew I could,” Mason said. “If I knew, I would have done it three years ago. I guess I was a little out of the loop on that kind of stuff.”
Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff had a flashback last week when Marcus Foligno was recalled from Rochester (AHL) and scored two goals against the Colorado Avalanche. The 20-year-old son of Mike Foligno, who was in the building, did a poor man’s version of his father’s leap after scoring.
“it felt really good,” Foligno said. “I think the fans enjoyed it and it was great to get that celebration out of the way. I’ve had it on my mind for a while so it’s great to finally do it.” Ruff said: “That was awesome. I’d like to enjoy it more right now (Buffalo lost), but it brought back a lot of memories.” Marcus was born in Buffalo when his father was teammates with Ruff.
Jakob Silfverberg, selected by Ottawa 39th overall in the 2009 entry draft, was named the most Valuable Player in the Swedish Elite League. He had 24 goals and 54 points in 49 games for Brynas IF Gavle. Silfverberg, a left winger, wears no. 100 in honor of Brynas’ centennial season. “I’ve never seen that before,” said Senators director of player personnel Pierre Dorion.
Erik Karlsson of the Senators may have a better chance to win the Hart Trophy as MVP than the Norris Trophy as top defenseman. That’s because his defensive play is often criticized. Sens GM Bryan Murray feels Karsslon gets a bad rap.
“I think that’s the most dramatic part of his improvement,” Murray said. “you can look at the stats and say he’ll get 20 goals by the end of the year and he’ll have whatever number of points. The comments I hear or read quite often are the unfortunate thing is he’s not real good defensively, where in fact he’s become real good defensively. Him and (Filip) Kuba in particular are the match most every night now against the best line on the other team.”
Devils fans know him for his monotone voice and low-key demeanor, but Calgary Flames coach Brent Sutter showed another side Tuesday night. After Matt Stajan scored an overtime goal, Sutter threw himself into the arms of assistant coach Dave Lowry.
“At least I didn’t kiss him,” Sutter said. “I’m actually a pretty emotional guy, but I just control it and you guys don’t get to see it. these games are emotional games.
“you guys are making a big deal about it. I guess I’ll never do it again.”
Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa created a stir in Vancouver when he knocked home fans at Rogers Arena for being drowned out by 1,000 or so Winnipeg Jets fans.
“I love the Jets and their fan-base,” Bieksa said. “to see them come in here and out-cheer our fans is great from their perspective. I’m really happy for them. But from our perspective, it’s a little sad. At times, we get that on the road when we’re in Phoenix or L.A. it seems we have a louder crowd than the home team and I know it gets them down.When you’re at home and the road team has a louder crowd, it’s a little embarrassing.
“I don’t think we want that to happen to us. A lot of times when you’re down in the game or you’re going through a lull in the second period, the crowd can give the team a boost. We’ve got to be working together here. we both want the same thing, which is the Stanley Cup. So we’ll work for you if you work for us.”
The RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C., last week was renamed PNC Arena. what a shame. The RBC Center was such a romantic name, like The Olympia.
UNGA STJARNA (SWEDISH FOR YOUNG STAR)
Having reached the 70-point mark last week, Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson is challenging the record for most points by a Swedish defenseman in the NHL.
Player, Team, Year, Games Played, Goals, Assists, Points Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit, 2005-06, 80, 16, 64, 80Borje Salming, Toronto, 1976-77, 76, 12, 66, 78Borje Salming, Toronto, 1977-78, 80, 16, 60, 76Borje Salming, Toronto, 1978-79, 78, 17, 56, 73Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit, 1999-00, 81, 20, 53, 73Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit, 2000-01, 82, 15, 56, 71Borje Salming, Toronto, 1979-80, 74, 19, 52, 71Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit, 2007-08, 76, 10, 60, 70Erik Karlsson, Ottawa, 2011-12, 70, 19, 52, 71
Source: Elias Sports Bureau
Rich Chere: email@example.com; twitter.com/Ledger_NJDevils