He was sitting on top of the world.
And then he heard the following postgame comments from teammate and alternate captain Kimmo Timonen.
"He's a good player but he's still young and he needs to learn how to play that game every night. You can still see some ups and downs…as long as he can keep the passion and be excited every game and be the player he was [Saturday] he can be a great player but he's still going to have games where he's going to…you know…it's a learning process and he will learn."
Timonen’s statement was not completely shocking.
Head coach Peter Laviolette has used the media to question van Riemsdyk’s effort and consistency; however, this was the first time that one of his teammates was so vocal about his performance.
I know Timonen was probably trying to keep van Riemsdyk grounded and motivated, but the night he scores his first NHL hat trick is not the appropriate time. Perhaps if van Riemsdyk was an unexpected physical force or played with an edge then Timonen could respond this way, but doing it on a momentous occasion just shows poor judgment.
Additionally, calling out a teammate’s effort through the media should be a last resort reserved for situations where all other options have been exhausted.
You have to wonder if a one-on-one conversation could have been just as effective.
It is worth noting that van Riemsdyk has performed well since being a healthy scratch for four games in November. Since that benching, he has 19 goals and 32 points in 54 games, which would put him on pace for 29 goals and 49 points over an 82-game season.
Not exactly the type of numbers to make Flyers fans forget they missed out on Patrick Kane by losing a lottery, but certainly enough production to quell the persistent claims that the second overall pick of the 2007 NHL draft is a total bust.
I have been a supporter of van Riemsdyk because I can see the skill he possesses— even if it doesn’t always lead to results. He has good hands, good speed and an excellent shot; those skills will only improve as he builds his confidence.
That being said, I didn’t much change last night in my opinion of the things that van Riemsdyk has been doing in recent games. He didn’t play with any more energy or physicality, and he didn’t make any great passes or defensive plays.
He just went to the net and took shots when he had the chance. The only difference was that on this night, the puck went into the net.
The fact is that van Riemsdyk’s performance will not likely be the difference between the Flyers winning or losing in the playoffs.
That being the case, I’d like to see Timonen focus on his motivational tactics on some of the veteran members of the team. Jeff Carter, Scott Hartnell, Matt Carle and Danny Briere have just as many inconsistent nights, yet they are never singled out.
So hopefully the next time Timonen wants to speak publicly, he chooses to call out a player who can truly have an impact on the Flyers' postseason success. Given some of their performances in recent games, it sure looks like they could use it.
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