The Philadelphia Flyers were bit by the injury bug on Wednesday night, when James van Riemsdyk suffered a broken right index finger while blocking a shot. The loss of van Riemsdyk hurts the Flyers’ forward corps, but luckily they have plenty of depth.
The trade deadline deals for Nate Thompson and Derek Grant afforded the Flyers the luxury of being able to have a guy like Joel Farabee at the ready to return to the lineup if needed. Unfortunately, it was due to an injury, but Farabee was immediately recalled after van Riemdsyk’s injury and was in the lineup for Thursday night’s game.
Farabee will presumably be with the Flyers for the rest of the season, as the timetable for van Riemsdyk’s recovery is four-to-six weeks. The depth scoring that van Riemsdyk provided will be missed, but the young winger is hoping he can fill that void.
Farabee only missed four games after being sent down at the trade deadline, but the Flyers were rolling in those four games. Scott Laughton was clicking with Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny on the new-look second line, while Grant and Thompson were fitting in as the bottom-six centers.
With van Riemsdyk’s injury Farabee could’ve slotted in for him on the third line. However, with Farabee’s talent, Alain Vigneault wanted to put him in the top six, where he thinks the 20-year-old winger belongs.
And Farabee showed that he belongs there with a strong game against the Hurricanes.
On his first shift, Farabee went right to work. He banked the puck off the boards to get out of the zone and headed up ice. Once in the offensive zone, he kept himself available in the slot as a passing option for Kevin Hayes, and then went to the front of the net.
Farabee ultimately didn’t get the puck in the slot or in front, but he created traffic in front of the net and was ready for a rebound if there was one. Also, there’s some silky Hayes puck handling in there for your viewing pleasure.
The young forward has immense offensive talent and he showed some of his passing ability with a long bank pass to Konecny at the far blue line. The play stopped there, but it was a precursor of things to come.
The highlight of Farabee’s night came in the second period. With the puck going up the wall, he sped up ice and got a tip pass from Hayes. He recognized Konecny calling for a dump-in pass and placed the puck perfectly off the endboards and onto Konecny’s stick.
He once again stayed in front of the net to create traffic, and then got a tremendous rebound chance from the low slot.
It didn’t result in a goal, but Farabee made a few nice plays there and it helped get the Flyers a power play thanks to Ivan Provorov’s aggressiveness in the offensive zone. Farabee continued to show strong positioning all game long.
One of the few mistakes he made that could’ve cost him came in the third period on his longest shift (1:23) of the game. He started the play behind Joel Edmundson, and couldn’t catch up to him as the defenseman trailed the rush and got a good backhand chance.
You can’t totally fault Farabee, as he attempted to get back and get his stick in the lane, but it’s those little things that make a difference in the long run for a young player.
He tried to make up for it later in the period. He helped Hayes win a battle in the corner and got off a decent backhand chance in front.
His final – and best – chance of the night came off the rush on his final shift. He passed the puck and criss-crossed with Hayes in the neutral zone to go up the left wing on a three-on-two chance. Hayes passed the puck to the right to Konecny, who dished it toward Farabee crashing the net.
It’s unclear whether the puck was deflected by the defenseman (possibly before it even got to Farabee), saved by the goalie, hit off the post, or a combination of the above, but the play showed Farabee’s ability to make plays and use his speed to get behind the defense.
For the record, the official NHL play by play has the play as a missed tip-in by Farabee, off the goalpost. I, for one, think he got it on net.
It was almost criminal that Farabee didn’t end the game with a goal, or at least a point. He had a few great chances and was in the mix for others as well.
Even though he didn’t get on the scoresheet, his underlying numbers showed how well he played.
Farabee’s Corsi-For was only 52.63 percent, but the quality of those chances is really where we want to look. The Flyers had a 6-1 advantage in scoring chances (6-0 high danger) in Farabee’s 11:31 at 5-on-5 play. Farabee ended the game with an Expected Goals-For of 87.82 percent (0.89-0.12).
The winger wasn’t just along for the ride, either. He and Claude Giroux led the Flyers with four shot attempts, while Farabee led the team with four scoring chances – and four high-danger chances. He also led the team with an individual Expected Goals of 0.53. That’s a season-high for the forward.
Farabee is back in the top six and he is feeling it. It was only one game, but he was playing like he did during his hot stretch in early February.
If this type of play can continue consistently from Farabee, the Flyers are not going to miss a beat as they go down the home stretch in March and into April.