Slow but steady progress for van Riemsdyk after concussion

James van Riemsdyk was checked by Carolina's Tomas Kaberle in a Nov. 21 game. He suffered a concussion in mid-January.
James van Riemsdyk was checked by Carolina's Tomas Kaberle in a Nov. 21 game. He suffered a concussion in mid-January. (RON CORTES / Staff Photographer)
Posted: February 16, 2012

When the Flyers face struggling Ville Leino and the offensively challenged Buffalo Sabres on Thursday, they still will be without James van Riemsdyk.

But the 22-year-old Flyers left winger appears to be making strides in his comeback from a concussion.

Sidelined for more than a month, van Riemsdyk wore a regular jersey - meaning he was able to absorb contact - and spent time on the top line during Wednesday's practice in Voorhees. He replaced the flu-ridden Jaromir Jagr on a line with Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell.

 "It seemed like he had lots of pop, so hopefully he keeps moving in the right direction," center Danny Briere said.

 After practice, van Riemsdyk said through a team spokesman that he felt "the same as last week," and that he would address reporters in a few days.

 Last week, van Riemsdyk said he sometimes felt as if he was in a fog because of the concussion. He was in a non-contact jersey on Tuesday, so he was upgraded for Wednesday.

"It was nice to have him doing drills and be a part of activities out there, and be able to cross-check him a little bit in practice," center Max Talbot said with a smile. "It was fun."

 "He looks good," Hartnell said. "I don't know how he's feeling or whatever. It's tough to ask a guy with a head injury, 'How you doing? How you doing? How you doing?' He's probably sick of those questions. But he's skating well and looks strong on his skates and has pretty nice hands, so hopefully he'll be able to be symptom-free for a while and have the confidence to get out there and get some hits and take some hits and get back in the game."

 There is no timetable for van Riemsdyk's return. He has been mentioned in trade rumors connected to Toronto defenseman Luke Schenn. Van Riemsdyk, who grew up in Central Jersey, wants to remain with the Flyers.

The trade deadline is Feb. 27.

Jagr, who turned 40 on Wednesday, did not practice because of his lingering illness, and the Flyers hope that he can play Thursday against visiting Buffalo. The winger has one goal in his last 16 games.

 Van Riemsdyk hasn't played since Jan. 12 and has missed the last 14 games. He has 11 goals and 11 assists in 37 games.

Missing: swagger.

After their second consecutive high-tempo practice, several Flyers, including Talbot and Briere, said the Flyers need to regain the swagger they had before their recent funk. They have lost five of their last six games.

"We might be a little down now, but better to be down now than at the start of April," Talbot said. ". . . It's not like we're playing horrible hockey. We know our potential. We've shown it this year, and we definitely are positive about bringing back our swagger."

Injury updates. Winger Jakub Voracek (upper-body injury), who remained in a non-contact jersey Wednesday, said he was feeling a "little better each day" and did not rule out playing Thursday.

Like Voracek, defenseman Andrej Meszaros is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

Breakaways. The Flyers' power play is 0 for its last 16. "The chances are there, and that's a positive," Hartnell said. "If you can't get in the zone or can't get set up and get pucks to the net, that's when you have to look at changing something up. But the chances have been there; we just have to bear down and put the chances in the net." . . . The Flyers and some friends played poker at Chickie's & Pete's in South Philadelphia on Monday. Talbot, who said one of Jagr's friends was the biggest winner, said it was "refreshing" for the players to get their heads away from hockey for the night. . . . The Bovada sportsbook lists the Rangers (5-2 odds) as the favorites to acquire Columbus' Rick Nash and has the Flyers tied for fourth at 6-1. . . . Leino has just four goals for Buffalo, which is averaging only 2.36 goals per game. Only four teams have averaged fewer.

Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at or @BroadStBull on Twitter.

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