James van Riemsdyk bit the bullet for two games in the Stanley Cup finals.
Last night, van Riemsdyk spit out that bullet and returned to the lineup for Game 4, retaking his spot as the youngest player in the series. Flyers coach Peter Laviolette swapped van Riemsdyk with Dan Carcillo, the player who replaced him for Game 2.
Van Riemsdyk, 21, was forced to watch Games 2 and 3 from the press box - the first games he had ever missed as a healthy scratch.
"It was tough," van Riemsdyk said. "At this time of the year, you need to be there to support the team. You need to keep a positive attitude. I can only worry about what I can control."
Van Riemsdyk had no control over whether he would make it back for another game in the finals. But as he watched Game 3, he said he learned to appreciate some of the little things.
He knows that he can't be competitive without his energy and speed, something that was missing from the lineup at times even with him in there.
"When you watch a game, you can appreciate how fast the game is and how quickly the decisions need to be made," van Riemsdyk said. "I feel like I'm at my best when I'm skating and making plays.
"I play with confidence when I'm skating. Most players are like that, when they're moving their feet, they're making things happen. It's a matter of using that energy and using it to my advantage out there."
Van Riemsdyk used that to his advantage in the first period when his spin-around shot from behind the net turned into a Matt Carle goal.
In his two games in the lineup, Carcillo provided energy but not much else. He was a minus-2 with two penalties in 18:43.
Van Riemsdyk, still in his rookie year, said he will use this lesson as a learning experience. Game 4 was the Flyers' 103rd game this season. That's a big jump - physically and mentally - from 36 games, the most he ever played in a season at the University of New Hampshire.
"I feel great still physically. That hasn't been a problem all year," he said. "It's a lot tougher mentally with all those games. It's tough. But you've got to stay at it and stay focused. Sometimes, it helps to take a step back to take a few steps forward."
Back in 1993, Chris Pronger visited the Stanley Cup finals as a top prospect, an annual rite of the NHL draft. Pronger toured the old Montreal Forum and met players before watching the Canadiens take on the Los Angeles Kings. Montreal went on to win the Cup with help from soon-to-be Flyers John LeClair and Eric Desjardins.
This year, five of the top, up-and-coming players in the 2010 draft were invited to participate. Yesterday, Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin, Brett Connolly, Erik Gudbranson and Cam Fowler met with Pronger after the Flyers' morning skate.
The Flyers do not have a pick in either the first, second or third rounds in the upcoming draft, to be held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on June 25-26. They just sent the third-round pick to Anaheim this week, which was, coincidentally, a conditional part of Pronger's trade to the Flyers last June. It was conditional upon the Flyers reaching the Stanley Cup finals this season.