JVR getting 'close;' Sestito making strides

For the first time since they had surgeries, Flyers wingers James van Riemsdyk and Tom Sestito skated with the team at a practice Saturday in Voorhees.

Van Riemsdyk, who had surgery March 6 to repair a broken bone in his left foot, said he would not be able to play in Sunday's playoff game against Pittsburgh, but that he was getting "close." He wore a protective skate guard at practice.

Van Riemsdyk, 22, has been skating for nearly a week.

"You just want to get to the point where you can contribute out there," he said. "It's one of those things where it's tough to jump in at this time of year, but the team has been doing a great job. I'm just doing what I can to stay positive and be a good team guy and be a good cheerleader right now _ and focus on getting myself healthy and back into the lineup."

Watching the Flyers register comeback wins in the first two games of the series against the Penguins, van Riemsdyk said, has been uplifting.

"It's incredible the character we have in the room. Guys never quit," he said. "We have a great group of guys here; everyone plays for each other, and I think that's huge. The camaraderie we have is second to none, and I think that helps us dig out of the tough spots we're in."

Van Riemsdyk, who had seven goals in last year's 11 playoff games, said it has been "pretty brutal sitting at home by yourself without the guys when they're on the road and playing all these exciting games. I'd do anything to be out there with them."

He called Saturday's practice "a step in the right direction...I just have to keep building off that and go from there."

When JVR is able to return, coach Peter Laviolette will have to decide whether to insert him into the lineup and break up the team's chemistry, or have him sit for a while longer.

Zac Rinaldo is the most likely candidate to be benched when Van riemsdyk returns.

As for Sestito, who is recovering from groin surgery, he seems at least 10 days away from being ready to play, though he will have a difficult time cracking the lineup. He will visit a doctor Monday and get a better idea on the time frame, and he said he was experiencing some minor pain and was about 80 percent healthy.

Fun fact: As Adam Kimelman of NHL.com noted, eight of the Flyers' 12 goals in the series have been scored by players who live with Danny Briere, or used to reside with him in Haddonfield. Sean Couturier (three goals) lives with Briere (two), and Claude Giroux (three) lived there last year.

Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.