With rookie forward James van Riemsdyk on the shelf with concussion symptoms for the past week, coach John Stevens made the decision to stick creative winger Claude Giroux on the team’s top line centered by Mike Richards. The idea was to not only spark Giroux’s production but to get struggling Simon Gagne more scoring chances in hopes that he would break out of his post groin injury slump (three assists in five games).
The unconfirmed belief was that Giroux would return to centering the third line once JVR returned, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
With JVR eying a return on Friday against the Florida Panthers, instead of playing with Giroux and Darroll Powe, Stevens has him practicing on a line with Arron Asham centered by Mika Pyorala.
“I thought that line was great today,” said Stevens. “It seemed that every time they came up the ice they had a good attack. They read off each other and their spacing was really good. We are not averse to starting that way on Friday. Mika did a nice job in the middle and James looks really good right now. It will be nice to get him back playing again.”
JVR also noted the natural chemistry in the line.
“I thought we all clicked and everyone had good instincts out there for each other and it was easy to read off of each other,” he said. “If we can keep that up in the game, we’ll be golden.”