Joel Farabee has an old soul.
That, combined with the fact that he’s one of the Flyers’ best players, sometimes makes it easy to forget just how young he is, Kevin Hayes said.
“I think he’s only , which is insane to me,” Hayes said. “I was just entering the league at 21, and this guy’s one of our best players on our team at .”
Farabee might forget that fact sometimes, too.
“He’s been trying to step up in terms of his leadership and how he helps get this group to another level,” interim head coach Mike Yeo said. “Obviously if we’re not winning a lot of games, then he puts that pressure and feels that.”
They treat him like a veteran because, for the most part, he plays the way a veteran does. At barely 22, Farabee has already played in 162 NHL games and collected 92 career points. This season, Farabee is one of the Flyers’ top-five scorers with 33 points, and he did it in at least 20 less games (55) than the other three (the fourth is Claude Giroux, who was traded after 57 games).
Outside the the last four games, Farabee has consistently been in the stat sheet. However, he hasn’t consistently been on the roster. He missed two big chunks of the season after injuring and then reinjuring his shoulder. The disruption had a big impact on his growth.
“It seems like every time he starts to get some momentum and get going, and next thing you know, he’s been hurt,” Yeo said. It doesn’t help that he had to work his way back into shape in February, when play ramps up as the playoff race gets tighter.
To add more obstacles as Farabee tries to find his stride, the Flyers have dealt with numerous injuries. The lineup has rarely been the same night-in and night-out, and Farabee has had to adjust to different line partners, which is something that came up in discussions with Yeo.
“When you’re constantly cycling in new guys and new faces and things like that, it can get pretty difficult to find chemistry and things like that,” said Farabee. “I think just being a pro hockey player, you’ve got to be able to do it.”
Even so, Farabee managed to score 16 goals and record 17 assists. That’s probably not as many as he’d like, Hayes said, but he feels Farabee is still “in a good spot” and is starting to figure out you can never get too high or too low.
“It’s good for him to face [these challenges] right now and no question, these things will make him stronger and help him through the rest of his career,” Yeo said.
With the influx of college players Noah Cates, Ronnie Attard and Bobby Brink, as well as the call ups of Morgan Frost and Cam York, Farabee has more players his age. While York and Brink are the only players younger than Farabee (Frost is three years older and Cates and Attard are one year older), Farabee has the most NHL experience among them. Yeo sees this as another opportunity for Farabee to build his leadership skills.
“He gets to be sort of a mentor of those guys and help make them feel comfortable and help in all aspects of both the on-ice part, but as well as the off-ice part. I think he’s enjoying having those guys around,” Yeo said.
On the night of Brink’s NHL debut, Oskar Lindblom was sitting in the press box. He wasn’t injured; he was a healthy scratch.
Lindblom hasn’t done anything wrong, even though he’s been struggling to score points and goals. But the Flyers had to make way for their new players as they joined the team after the NCAA hockey playoffs.
“I think Oskar got a little bit pushed out, and maybe not even deservingly so, at a time when we brought all the youngsters in,” Yeo said. “And obviously, we want to give all those guys an opportunity, but I think it’s important we don’t just brush Oskar aside.”
Yeo decided to bring Lindblom back into the lineup Saturday against the Buffalo Sabres. Instead of playing on the fourth line again, Yeo rotated Lindblom with Cates on the second and fourth lines. There aren’t any particular situations where one player is better than the other, Yeo said. In fact, they’re very similar.
“Both players have similarities in that players like to play with them because they’re reliable, they’re responsible, they’re trustworthy, they do their job well and are predictable,” Yeo said.
Martin Jones will start in net for the Flyers against the Buffalo Sabres at 7 p.m. on Saturday. ... Nate Thompson returned from injury to play on the fourth line. Yeo said they need Thompson’s veteran leadership. ... Yeo has no updates on any of the injured players. He still thinks Cam Atkinson is 50-50 for Sunday’s game against the Sabres.