Since the Flyers took him with the second pick of the 2007 NHL draft the knock against James van Riemsdyk was that he played too soft for a winger who stands 6-foot-3, 200 pounds.

Many wondered if the 21-year-old Middletown native would ever develop into the board-banging, net-crashing force that would justify his draft selection.

Van Riemsdyk has spent the past two playoff games trying to silence those critics. He was the Flyers' best player on the ice in their series opener against the Buffalo Sabres and followed that performance by scoring a goal, delivering four hits and blocking two shots in the Flyers' 5-4 win over the Sabres in Game 2.

"JVR has been awesome now for two games," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "Just the speed, power and confidence that he has reminds me a little bit of what Claude (Giroux) did last year in the playoffs."

For reference, Giroux had 10 goals and 11 assists in 23 playoff game last season, his second foray into the post-season.

"You get this experience and maturity that grows," Laviolette said. "Certainly, Claude was great for us last year and has carried on that way. JVR has seemed to catapult himself into the playoffs as well. That emotion and energy that you were talking about, it is called The Stanley Cup, and it is worth fighting for."

Van Riemsdyk has benefitted from playing on a line with Giroux and Jeff Carter, who is still looking for his first goal of the playoffs.

"This time of year everyone's got to step their game up and that's what I wanted to do from the start and build off that," van Riemsdyk said.

With Games 3 and 4 set for Buffalo's HSBC Arena, van Riemsdyk said the Sabres need to be prepared for him to keep bringing the heat.

"It's going to be two very hard-fought games when we get there," he said. "I need to be really tough to play against. It's a long series against these guys and you want to make sure when it gets to the latter part of the series guys on their team know they're going to get hit. You've just got to keep doing that shift in and shift out."