VOORHEES, N.J. – If there were ever a 19-year-old player equipped to handle the pressure of playing on the Flyers’ top line, it’s Joel Farabee.
Several veterans have commented that Farabee looks as cool as a – pardon the cliché – cucumber out there.
When coach Alain Vigneault switched lines the other night (putting Farabee in Jake Voracek’s spot alongside Claude Giroux), it showed a lot of faith.
Farabee has earned that trust with his solid play. He was hitting a lot of goal posts and having several goals waved off by offsides, etc. until he finally connected to tie the game midway through the third period of Friday night’s 4-3 shootout win at New Jersey.
The Syracuse, N.Y. native says getting elevated to the first line shouldn’t be cause for a case of the jitters.
Helping the cause: He’s not being counted on to be a scoring machine, a la Voracek.
“Right now I don’t think I’m being relied upon to score as many points as the older guys,’’ Farabee said after Monday’s practice at the Skate Zone. “That helps me out a bit, not having that pressure, that I need to have points.
“The biggest thing right now is I think I’m getting a lot of chances and creating a lot of chances. If I just keep doing that, the points are going to come. I’m not too worried about putting up massive numbers. I’m just kind of working my way to stay here and find my spot on the team.’’
Farabee’s matter-of-fact personality seems to be a good fit for this daunting task.
“Obviously there are some nerves there, being put in a big position,’’ he acknowledged. “But at the end of the day it’s just hockey. I’ve been playing it for a while now. Once the game gets started, I get into a rhythm, I’m not as nervous. It’s just doing what I’ve always done, sticking to the game I’ve always played.’’
Veterans like Voracek and Claude Giroux have been offering advice and that helps the process.
“A lot of it is power play stuff,’’ Farabee said. “It’s more tactical and stuff like that. You listen to what ‘G’ and Jake have to say. They tell you where to be and spots to be and that’s really cool. They’ve been around for so long, they know where the plays are and they know what they want.
“Just having those guys telling you where to be is really cool. It’s helped me out a lot.’’
Vigneault isn’t making too much of a big deal placing a youngster in the spotlight. After 13 games, he’s still trying to find the right fit for his lines.
“I don’t know if I moved him (Farabee) up, I just mixed the lines,’’ Vigneault said. “I’m just trying to get the right defensive and offensive chemistry on the lines. I didn’t think Giroux’s line in New Jersey was as effective as it could be, so I made a subtle change. It certainly gives us balance throughout the top nine forwards.
“I thought Farabee did all right. He’s a young player, he’s got good instincts both offensively and defensively. And the more he plays, the better he’s going to get.’’
>Van Riemsdyk family feud, Round 8
The Flyers’ James van Riemsdyk and Carolina’s Trevor van Riemsdyk get set to square off for an eighth time in their NHL careers in Tuesday night’s game at the Wells Fargo Center. Unofficially, Trevor has a 4-3 edge.
The conversation on Monday turned to James’ younger brother Brendan.
“Me and Trevor have a more respectful relationship,’’ James said. “My youngest brother, we would be letting him know every time the puck was stolen from him. We just gang up on him. See how long it takes for him to lose his temper.’’
>Couturier injury update
The injury that limited Sean Couturier’s faceoff chances in the Pittsburgh and New Jersey games appeared to be pretty much over in the Toronto game. He took 10 draws.
It was originally thought that Couturier’s injury involved his hand. Turns out it was his shoulder.
“I was reprimanded by our medical guys (for letting him take 10 faceoffs),’’ Vigneault said with a chuckle. “If TK (Travis Konecny) got kicked out of the circle, he (Couturier) wanted to go. We still have four to seven days where he should not be taking draws if we want that shoulder to heal. I will try to be more vigilant as we move forward.’’
>Hart to start
Although goalie Brian Elliott had a strong game in the 11-round shootout loss to Toronto, Carter Hart will get the start vs. the Hurricanes.
“This week we’ve got four games in six nights,’’ Vigneault said. “I’m looking at the goaltender’s performance more, Brian than Carter. Carter is new to the league but we’re going to need both goaltenders this week, probably two games each.’’
Vigneault liked Tyler Pitlick’s performance in the Toronto game, so he will get the start over Chris Stewart for the Carolina game. “I thought he (Pitlick) was assertive in one-on-one battles so he’s going to stay in the lineup.’’