Flyers 7, Wild 4: James Van Riemsdyk's Hat Trick Highlights Eruption


Last season, the Flyers failed to score in two games against the Minnesota Wild.

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Monday night, the orange and black scored at will against the team assembled by their current general manager, as the Flyers beat the Wild, 7-4.

The Flyers received a hat trick from James van Riemsdyk and two goals each from Wayne Simmonds and Nolan Patrick. Yes, that Nolan Patrick.

What got into the Flyers' 20-year-old center?

Here are my observations from the Wells Fargo Center:

• The first period gave us a really good look at Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon's revamped top power-play unit with the utilization of five forwards. 

The Flyers scored once in their first three attempts. It's a considerably different look with the right-handed Claude Giroux moving to the right side and the left-handed Sean Couturier taking Giroux's spot in the left circle. 

I'm sure it's quite different for Giroux, who had a shooter's mentality from that left circle. Now, I see him as more of a distributor. However, I see this setup creating more space in the middle, and van Riemsdyk was able to redirect Jakub Voracek's shot from the point for the Flyers' first goal.

• How crazy and streaky is hockey? Mired in a horrific slump, Patrick had scored three points in his last 25 games. Against the Wild, Patrick whipped out three points in 15 minutes in the second period alone. 

Just scoring that first one must have taken a tremendous weight off his shoulders, because he scored a highlight-reel effort between his legs when Travis Sanheim's slap shot caromed off the back wall (see video).

• Back to Patrick's first goal. The best part for me was the breakout two-line pass from defenseman Ivan Provorov, a play that we saw quite a bit in his first two seasons, but not so much this season. As Provorov has struggled to control the puck, he's been gun shy to make these long stretch passes that lead to offense, but it was the key to tying the game at 3-3.

• I thought the one area defensively the Flyers would have trouble was containing Minnesota's size up front with six forwards listed 6-foot-2 or bigger. It got away with them on Marcus Foligno's goal that gave Minnesota a 3-2 lead, and there were a few examples in which the Wild overpowered the Flyers' smaller defense.

• Reading social media, there's a belief that Carter Hart was off his game or having an off night, but I really only look at the first goal, Minnesota's power-play goal, as a puck that he should have secured and a goal he certainly wants back. The second goal was redirected off Phil Varone's stick and Foligno's goal was a lapse in coverage.

• I haven't seen anything from Jori Lehtera in practice that warranted him bumping out Dale Weise from the lineup, but with such lackluster and uninspiring play out of Weise, Gordon clearly had to find another option. 

I think this would have been an opportunity to call up Nicolas Aube-Kubel again as Lehtera really doesn't have a future here. With Lehtera and Varone on a fourth line, don't expect much energy or jump out of this group.

• The Flyers had a great response to the determination that Robert Hagg plowed Eric Staal into Hart on a Minnesota goal that was originally called off. 

Offensively, the Flyers responded just 2½ minutes later as Wayne Simmonds showed a great touch roofing a shot past Alex Stalock. 

Who knows what Fletcher is thinking in regards to Simmonds, who continues to boost his stock on the trade market.

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