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Van Riemsdyk states case to stay in the lineup

by Mike G. Morreale
PHILADELPHIA  -- James van Riemsdyk never considered his demotion to the bench for two games of the Stanley Cup Final a bad thing.
So instead of wallowing over coach Peter Laviolette's decision to sit him in Games 2 and 3 in favor of Daniel Carcillo, the rookie forward used the opportunity to brush up on what he needed to do to get better.
"At this time of year, it's all about going out there and doing everything we can and playing tough hockey," he said. "Maybe it was good for me to take a step back a little bit and just really appreciate how fast the game is and how quick decisions need to be made out there. I think it ended up being a good thing for me and I'll keep getting better from here."
He did just that, and it showed on Friday when the Flyers won 5-3 to pull even with the Chicago Blackhawks 2-2 in this best-of-7 series. It was quite a turnaround from his Game 1 showing, too.
In his first appearance in a Cup Final game, van Riemsdyk logged 9:25 of ice time on 16 shifts in Game 1 and finished with a minus-2 rating in a 6-5 loss at the United Center in Chicago. In Game 4, he earned 9:34 of ice time on 14 shifts, notched an assist and had a plus-1 rating.
Van Riemsdyk admitted feeling a little more composed this time around.
"I think I just kind of calmed myself down a little more and just played better," he said. "I think I had some nerves in the first game. I didn't necessarily play too bad, but I just didn't do as good as I wanted."
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette was proud of the effort.
"I thought James played a good game," he said. "I'm trying to keep everybody in it here. We got pieces -- to get back in there and take a couple of games off, it was good for him. I'm sure Danny (Carcillo) will be itching to get back in there as well."
Claude Giroux, who scored his 10th of the playoffs late in the first period, witnessed plenty of fight in van Riemsdyk's performance.
"He didn't play the last two games, so anytime you don't play, I think it was like four days he hasn't played and it's tough," Giroux said. "He was really skating. He was making plays and he played a very good game. Our line was able to create some offense."
The line of Giroux, van Riemsdyk and Arron Asham combined for 2 points and a plus-5 rating on Friday as the Flyers improved to 9-1 on home ice in the playoffs. In fact, Philadelphia has reeled off six straight at the Wachovia Center.
"It was good to chip in, especially this time of the year," van Riemsdyk said. "It's exciting to be out there and when you can chip in, it's exciting. The atmosphere was unbelievable. The fans get better and better every game, it seems like, and they definitely give us that boost we needed."
When asked if Laviolette had said anything to him after the game, van Riemsdyk shrugged his shoulders and smiled.
"Well, he didn't say anything out of the ordinary," he said. "He likes to let things marinate overnight and usually save his comments for the next day. I felt I did some good things. I think I skated pretty well, and obviously I was a little rusty on the first couple of shifts, but after that I settled in and played a much better game."
Van Riemsdyk, who now has 2 goals, 5 points and a minus-2 rating in 19 playoff games, hopes to be in the lineup again for Game 5 in Chicago on Sunday night (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS).
"I think there are guys on this team who really like to step up and embrace the challenge and the opportunities," he said. "These moments are special and we have to keep it up. We have a lot of skill in the back end there and we just have to keep trying to make (Chicago's) job hard."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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