SOMETIMES, it looks like an old replay. A big body with long, raptor-like arms picks up a loose puck in the neutral zone and swoops down one side of the ice as opposing defensemen scramble to protect their net as prey defends its eggs.

Sound familiar? Look familiar?

"He's turned into a very fun player to watch," Keith Primeau said yesterday.

He, of course, is James van Riemsdyk, the Flyers' 6-3 left winger who, after two seasons of occasional flashes, tortured and trashed Buffalo's defensive strategy in the first-round series by, in the word of Keith Jones, "bulling" his way through the neutral zone and into the opponent's zone the way Primeau once did. Van Riemsdyk scored four goals in the seven-game series and created havoc and uncertainty nearly every time he jumped over the boards, using his speed and reach to create countless scoring opportunities.

"It's not stickhandling in a phone booth coming out of a corner," Primeau said. "It's get the puck and get it to the net and make somebody stop you. He's really figured that part of his game out. He's so explosive. He really does have, for a big man, another gear."

"There is no question that James has taken the beginning of the playoffs to a different level than the regular season," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said the other day. "It's similar to what Claude did last year."

Maybe by the numbers, but JVR's game has about as much in common with his good friend Claude Giroux as it does with that of Chicago's Patrick Kane, the player drafted just ahead of him and first overall in the 2007 NHL entry draft.

No, JVR's avatar is available only through your VCR.

"He's a big man who utilizes his size and speed," Primeau said. "Doesn't come out of who he is as a player. I tried to do the same thing. I wasn't going to finesse my way up the ice. I tried to use my size and speed to bring pucks to the net. So there's definite similarities there."

Cue Primeau's 2004 playoff performance, in which he scored nine goals and assisted on seven others, a stretch hockey legend Phil Esposito described later as more dominating than "Orr, Howe, Gretzky or anyone."