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Follow the leader...

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers
Whether they know it or not, James van Riemsdyk and Claude Giroux seem to have a game of follow-the-leader going.

Giroux was the Flyers’ first round pick of the Flyers in 2006 (22nd overall). A year later van Riemsdyk was the Flyers’ first round pick (2nd overall).

Claude Giroux

Giroux enjoyed a break out playoffs in 2010, while van Riemsdyk was a clear standout for the Flyers in 2011.

“The hope with both of those players is that they continue to grow,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette.
Giroux & van Riemsdyk played on the same line for much of the 2011 Playoffs.

We already know about Giroux and Flyers fans are watering at the mouth to think that he can improve on his performance the last year and a half.

Giroux followed up his performance in the Flyers’ run to the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals where he posted 10 goals and 21 points in 23 games, and ended the 2010-11 season as the leading scorer of the Flyers in points (76) and assists (51).

His 76 points were nearly 30 points more than his career-high from just one year ago, while his 51 assists were 20 better and his 25 goals were nine better than his career-high.

During the Flyers 2011 playoffs, Giroux averaged over a point-per-game and again led the Flyers in scoring with 12 points and 11 assists.

He didn’t however lead the team in goals. That title went to van Riemsdyk, who posted seven goals in 11 postseason games, sharing the goal-scoring lead with Danny Briere.

“He’s kind of taken the path of Claude [Giroux]. He had a good year and when the playoffs turned out to be good where he was an impact player every night for us,” added Laviolette. “He took the next step in the playoffs and became a very effective players for us.”

Come next season, the Flyers hope is that JVR picks up where he left off during the playoffs and has the impact that his teammates and coaches noticed.


“He now takes his playoff success, the experience and the confidence he can grab from this and take it into his regular season and really start to spread his wings and become a guy we can count on for 18-20 minutes a night,” said Laviolette. “He can play in all situations, on the first power-play unit.”

The 22-year-old van Riemsdyk still improved on his rookie season, recording a new career-high in goals (21) and points (40), all the while posting a plus/minus record of +15, 16 points higher than his rookie year.

The playoffs are where he took his play to another level. Dominating almost every shift on the ice, JVR scored more goals during the 11-game Flyers playoffs (7), than he had points (6) for all 21 games he played in last year’s postseason run.

“I think the emergence of Giroux and van Riemsdyk this year puts us in a great position,” said Danny Briere. “I’m really excited, and obviously there are other guys, who maybe had a season where they’d like to be a little better, so maybe they will work a little extra hard in the summer time, and come back to make a statement next year.”

With stars such as Briere, Pronger, Jeff Carter and not to mention captain Michael Richards locked into contracts for several years the Flyers as well as their fans can look forward to exciting action, highly-skilled and successful hockey for 2011-12 and beyond.
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