For One Leaf It's A Familiar Position Facing Elimination

A collaboration by John Russo and Lukas Hardonk

History has a tendency to repeat itself, especially in the sports world.

Three years removed from making history, one Maple Leafs winger finds himself in a similar position, one he was in when he was a member of the Philadelphia Flyers during the 2010 post season. 

Ironically enough, James van Riemsdyk is looking to fuel another comeback against the Boston Bruins. Though the Leafs have started their comeback being down 3-1 in the series as opposed to the steep hole the Flyers faced in the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals when down 3-0 to the Bruins, the same mantra goes for Toronto: one game at a time

They started their climb on Friday when they downed the Bruins, 2-1, to make it a 3-2 series and give them hope heading into tonight's Game 6.

Making a comeback of this proportion is not a feat you have to take as a whole. Anything becomes possible once a one-game-at-a-time mindset gets put into place.

Mark Masters of TSN tweeted a blurb of a quote from van Riemsdyk earlier today, who was discussing his 2010 comeback. "Believe in the process & in doing things the right way," said Masters, who was quoting van Riemsdyk.


As the Maple Leafs get ready for their third and potentially final home game of this post-season, nerves begin to rise and tension begins to grow with the possibility of their season ending once again.

Those who are feeling the nerves and tension of a potential series deciding and season ending Game 6 certainly have reason to do so. The Maple Leafs have played very well thus far but the Bruins have somehow managed to come out on top more often than not. 

Game 5 ended in the Leafs' benefit but that doesn't necessarily mean they will experience the same fate again this evening.

Lending the Maple Leafs a hand tonight, just as he has through the first five games, will be James van Riemsdyk. The 24-year-old has two goals and an assist in the playoffs thus far but his offensive talent is not the only reason head coach Randy Carlyle is likely to lean on him a little more than usual tonight.

The 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs are one of just three teams in NHL history to have come back from a 3-0 series deficit, while ironically enough, the 2010 Boston Bruins are one of just three teams to have blown a 3-0 series lead. 

The team that defeated the Bruins that year, the Philadelphia Flyers, is the same team that had van Riemsdyk in their lineup at the time.

At no point in this series were the Maple Leafs down three games to none but they were in a similar situation down 3-1 prior to Friday night's contest and no one would disagree that a 3-1 series deficit would be tough to come back from.

Few people believe the Maple Leafs have the ability or the talent to completely come back from being down three games to one but there is no doubt that having van Riemsdyk on their side is a huge benefit. It will be van Riemsdyk who will need to take a hold on Game 6 and, if the Maple Leafs win, Game 7. Starting tonight, we will see just how well he can lead.


The Flyers magical comeback against the Bruins started in Game 4 when Simon Gagne poked a rebound past goaltender Tuukka Rask in overtime make it a 3-1 series. In Game 5, the Flyers shut-out the Bruins on a combined effort from the injured Brian Boucher and his replacement for the rest of the playoffs, Michael Leighton.

The Flyers held on to win Game 6 at home and force Game 7 where they found themselves in an early 3-0 hole in the first period. Van Riemsdyk started the scoring for the Flyers though, making it a 3-1 game with under three minutes remaining in the first period.

The rest of the series was history as the Flyers came back to win the game and the series and went on to play in the Stanley Cup Finals against the Blackhawks.

Contributing in the post season is nothing new to van Riemsdyk in his career. During that 2010 run with the Flyers, he scored three goals and had six points during that post season, the first of his career.

The following season, van Riemsdyk erupted for seven goals in 11 games as the Flyers were swept in the second round by Boston. Last year he tallied a couple points in seven games, which were the result of an injury-riddled season.


This season van Riemsdyk scored 18 goals and registered 32 points, both shy of his career highs during the 2009-2010 season in which he played 75 games (21 goals and 40 points). He played all 48 games this season for the Leafs, his healthiest season to date in the 24-year-old's young and promising career.

Van Riemsdyk got a bit of a career revival when he was traded from the Flyers to the Maple Leafs this past off season for defenseman Luke Schenn. The trade has so far proved to be a win-win for either team despite the Flyers missing the playoffs.

Van Riemsdyk also revived the Maple Leafs, who are in their first post season since 2002. And now while trailing 3-2 in the series to Boston, he will look to lead them in another resurrection from elimination as the two teams play in Game 6 at 7pm EST.

One game at a time.


Follow John Russo (@Roose_TCL), Lukas Hardonk (@LukasHardonk), and the site (@TCLFlyers) on Twitter.

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