TORONTO – For the first time since he signed a five-year, $35-milllion free-agent deal with the Flyers in the summer, left winger James van Riemsdyk will face Toronto, the city where he built his impressive resume.
"It feels a little odd, almost like a stranger in your own house," van Riemsdyk said before the Flyers (10-10-2) faced the host Maple Leafs (15-8) on Saturday night. "…There's a whirlwind of emotions."
A video tribute to the player they call "JVR" is planned. In six years with the Leafs, van Riemsdyk collected 154 goals and 294 points in 413 games.
"It's something I've been looking forward to," van Riemsdyk, 29, said of his return, "and obviously it's part of the process of moving on. I have nothing but good things to say about playing here. Lots of great memories and obviously I made lots of great friendships over there."
Down the road, "when I look back on my career, I'm sure it'll be something I look back on very fondly," her added.
After the Flyers traded van Riemsdyk to Toronto for Luke Schenn in 2012, the left winger recalled driving to his new city when he was stopped by police for speeding.
"I rolled my window down and I said, 'I'm so sorry, officer. I must have been going a little bit too fast.' And when I handed him my license, he recognized who I was and he said, 'James, we're really excited to have you here and best of luck going forward and I'm sure I'll be seeing you around.' "
He didn't get a ticket.
Pickard vs. Sparks
Goalie Cal Pickard, coming off Friday's 4-0 win over the Rangers, will get the start for the Flyers. Pickard, a former Leaf, is 4-1-2 with a 3.58 GAA and .878 save percentage.
Anthony Stolarz will serve as Pickard's backup because Alex Lyon is day to day with a lower-body injury, according to GM Ron Hextall. The Flyers are already without injured goalies Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth.
The Flyers will use the same lineup as Friday, coach Dave Hakstol said. That means Dale Weise will stay as the second-line left winger and Oskar Lindblom will be on the fourth line.
Toronto, which is without the injured Auston Matthews (shoulder), will use backup goalie Garrett Sparks. Sparks is 3-1 with a 3.21 GAA and .906 save percentage.
John Tavares leads the Leafs with 14 goals and Mitch Marner has a team-high 28 points.