NEWARK, N.J. - James van Riemsdyk grew up just a short ride from where the New Jersey Devils play their home games, so the Flyers' rookie left winger, a Middletown, N.J., native, was hoping the homecoming would help him break out of a prolonged slump last night.
It was van Riemsdyk's second game at the Prudential Center. He contributed a pair of assists in the Flyers' 5-2 win in New Jersey on Oct. 3.
Van Riemsdyk, 20, was the NHL's rookie of the month in November, but he has not scored a goal in his last 12 games.
"We haven't had time to work on anything, to get involved on different things that might help him," new coach Peter Laviolette said. "We're kind of wrapped up in game to game right now. It's been fast and furious. When we get some time, settle in, maybe we'll worry about that a little bit."
"Getting rebounds in front, that's my game," van Riemsdyk said. "I have to keep doing that, maybe a little better, so I can get some goals here."
As an insurance policy, the Flyers signed goalie John Grahame to a tryout contract with the AHL Adirondack Phantoms. He is expected to be the Phantoms' backup, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said.
There is a chance Grahame, 34, who played in Russia last season, could get into shape and replace Johan Backlund as Brian Boucher's backup with the Flyers. Injured starter Ray Emery is sidelined for at least six weeks.
Grahame played parts of two seasons for Laviolette in Carolina. In 2006-07, Grahame was 10-13-2 with a 2.85 goals-against average and .897 save percentage. The next season, he was 5-7-1 with a 3.75 GAA and .875 save percentage.
In seven-plus NHL seasons, Grahame was 97-86-14-4 with Boston, Tampa Bay, and Carolina, with a 2.79 GAA and .898 save percentage.
Winter Classic update
Workers have started converting Boston's venerable Fenway Park into a hockey rink for the Jan. 1 Winter Classic between the Flyers and Bruins. The rink, with the famed Green Monster in the background, is being built six inches off the baseball field.
To a man, the Flyers seem genuinely excited about playing outdoors.
"It's like waiting for Christmas," defenseman Braydon Coburn said. "It's going to be a lot of fun."
Looking back, Simon Gagne conceded he probably could have had abdominal surgery before training camp and missed just the first 10 games, but he wanted to try to make Team Canada, so he tried to push through the pain and compete at an Olympic tryout. Gagne didn't know it at the time, but that delayed the surgery.
Gagne missed his 21st game last night, and the Flyers hope he can return Saturday against the Rangers.
- Sam Carchidi