Joel Farabee skated just outside the crease, grabbed his own rebound on the edge of his stick, and slammed the puck into the net before the Carolina goaltender could react, giving the Flyers a two-goal lead midway through the third period and sending them well on their way to a 4-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
Not bad for a teenager.
After celebrating with his teammates on the ice Tuesday night, the 19-year-old returned to the bench and watched the replay on an iPad, worried the score might be negated by an offside penalty, as his would-be first NHL goal was two weeks ago (he got his first one, for real, on Friday).
“I was kind of shaking a little bit,” he said afterward in the locker room. “Thought maybe it was off.”
The winger has a lot on the line.
Tuesday’s win marked Farabee’s eighth game with the Flyers, and he’s inching closer to the 10-game mark, at which point he’ll burn a year off his entry-level contract and move closer to free agency.
“I’d have to say that as far as poise and being able to win puck battles and to make the right play on the wall, he’s probably one of our better players on our team right now,” coach Alain Vigneault said after the game. "I got a lot of trust and faith in what he’s doing on the ice.”
“I think he’s only gonna get better,” the coach added. “He’s a good young man who wants to work.”
Even without Vigneault’s endorsement, Flyers fans could see Farabee trending in that direction, quickly going from a Phantoms call-up to a crowd and team favorite, playing Tuesday for the second time on a line with center Claude Giroux and left winger James van Riemsdyk. When Farabee was promoted from the AHL last month, he played on the Flyers’ third line.
Being on a line with two veterans has allowed Farabee to take more chances, he said, and boosted his confidence.
“Playing with them, there’s always a play to be made,” he said.
And just being around fellow Flyers, whether in practices or games, has also made him better, he said.
During his few weeks in Philadelphia, the upstate New York native focused on becoming a better 200-foot player, a threat on both offense and defense, for strategic reasons.
“I think I can get more playing time that way,” Farabee said. “If I’m strictly offensive, late in the game I’m not going to get as many minutes, so I think just having that good defense that leads to offense is really important.”
He often reminds himself not to let the moment, with the bright lights and Jumbotron graphics and crowd noise, prevent him from playing his best. He doesn’t want to get complacent, he said, to convince himself he’s made it when he still has to keep proving myself.
Of course, that’s easier said than done. Farabee said there isn’t one thing that allows him to play within himself. Sometimes, it simply comes down to not thinking too much.
“At the end of the day, you just got to go out there and play hockey,” he said. “I think you’ve got to focus on hockey and not really anything else, and do what you can to help the team.”
If he keeps playing like he did Tuesday, he might get a lot more opportunities to do just that.