The first time the Flyers played the Jets was pretty forgettable for everybody except Joel Farabee.
“A big reason we lost that game to Winnipeg,” he said, “was my penalty.”
It was two months ago when Farabee was given a five-minute major and a three-game suspension for a late hit on Mathieu Perreault. The Jets scored twice on the power play and twice more shortly after it ended.
“When it happened, you feel like you’re hurting the team," said Farabee. It was a tough spot for the 19-year-old.
But Farabee said conversations with general manager Chuck Fletcher, coach Alain Vigneault, and some teammates helped him negotiate the uncertainty.
“They weren’t upset with me, I obviously could have been smarter, but they weren’t upset with me," he said. "They supported me.”
That play was in the midst of a stretch when the Flyers couldn’t win on the road and often weren’t competitive. Farabee’s linemates that night were Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux.
Today, he skates with Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny, and the Flyers are a respectable 5-2-1 in their last eight games away from home. The page has been turned. The visit to Winnipeg was just a bump in the road.
“He’s one of the more talented guys on our team,” Konecny said. “He’s got a lot of skill. Me and Hayesie try to open up the ice a little bit to free up space for him to play his game.”
The Flyers enter their rematch at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center (NBCSP) just five points out of first place with 21 games to go. The next goal is to climb into second place, which would mean home ice in the first round. Pittsburgh and Washington are ahead of them with 80 points.
Konecny (seven points in the last three games) and Hayes (goals in consecutive games) have been denting the scoresheet recently, but Farabee has not. No worries, because his willingness to win battles in the “tough areas” has won the admiration of Vigneault.
“That line the last three, four games has gotten some real good looks” the coach said.
Farabee will turn 20 on Tuesday. He’s still a baby by NHL standards, but he’ll no longer be a teenager. Another page has been turned.
“I think I’m a lot more comfortable now than I was then” he said referring to the first Winnipeg game. “I think then I was pressing a little hard on myself to create offense. But now, I’m feeling comfortable with the role that I’m in, doing what it takes each night.”
Precocious figure skater Isabeau Levito was a guest at Flyers practice Friday. The 12-year-old from Mount Laurel was the junior silver medalist at the U.S. championships last month and has her eye on the 2026 Olympics.
Levito’s favorite player is goaltender Carter Hart, who grew up outside Edmonton. He had one request as she continued her climb up the skating ladder.
“Take it easy on the Canadians,” the goalie pleaded.
Defenseman Justin Braun was back on the ice with Robert Hagg and will play Saturday against Winnipeg. He missed Thursday’s game with the flu. ... Winnipeg has won three in a row and six of eight to climb into the lead of the Western Conference’s wild-card race entering Friday.
Matt Niskanen was fined $5,000 for slashing Columbus’ Gustav Nyquist on Thursday night. No penalty was called on the play, but one should have been. ... It was a rough night for the Blue Jackets, who were leading the East wild-card race entering Friday but losing soldiers quicker than Gen. Custer. The team announced Friday that top goal-scorer Oliver Bjorkstrand will miss eight to 10 weeks with an ankle injury he suffered crashing into the boards at the end of regulation Thursday. Columbus team captain Nick Foligno, who took a puck to the face Thursday, was spotted wearing a goalie mask at Friday’s practice. Hard to blame him given the Blue Jackets have lost more man-games to injuries than anyone in hockey. It would be admirable if they held on and reached the postseason.