Flyers’ freshmen making upperclass-type contributions

Joel Farabee

Usually a team which uses a lot of rookies is either out of the playoff picture or trying to get a lot younger and a lot cheaper in a hurry.

The Flyers, who were fifth in the NHL in freshman scoring as of Friday, are none of the above.

Philadelphia has done a good job of integrating first-year players into its program without losing too much in the production department.

Prior to the Winnipeg game, the Flyers’ kids had registered 61 points, including a hefty 20 from Joel Farabee and 16 from defenseman Philippe Myers.

Chicago and the New York Rangers, both on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, are running Nos. 1 and 2 in rookie scoring.

We mention all this because going down the stretch, it always helps to have some young legs in the lineup to provide extra energy.

In addition to Farabee and Myers, the Flyers are getting significant contributions from Nicolas Aube-Kubel (did anyone see the 30-foot laser which started the comeback in Columbus on Thursday night?), Connor Bunnaman and defenseman Mark Friedman.

Farabee, who just turns 20 on Tuesday, has really come into his own in recent weeks, chalking up four goals, four assists for eight points in his last 11 games.

Not bad for someone who’s endured a three-game suspension and another three-game sidelining due to the flu this season.

Playing on a second line with Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny has certainly hastened the development process.

“He’s mature,’’ Konecny said of his linemate. “Just buying in to doing what he’s being asked to do.

“It’s hard, for him coming out of school and putting up the numbers that he did and playing the way he did, it’s hard to just come in and play a more simple game. He’s done a great job of that.’’

Farabee, a first-round draft pick out of Boston University, seems to complement the skills of Hayes and Konecny.

“Like ‘Ku’ (Aube-Kubel), Joel’s got a lot of upside,’’ coach Alain Vigneault said. “There’s definitely a good skill set there. He’s a young player who shows a willingness to go to the tough areas. In this league, you have to have that willingness to do that offensively and defensively.’’

Aube-Kubel really caught everyone’s eye when he registered a “Gordie Howe hat trick’’ (goal, assist, fight) in a win at Washington a couple weeks ago.

He’s posted five goals, 10 points in 28 games.

This from a player who started the season with the Phantoms.

“I really didn’t know that much about him,’’ Vigneault said. “I saw him a little bit in training camp. We didn’t keep him at the time because we felt there were some other players that were performing better.

“But ever since we’ve called him up, I think he’s felt better. In my sense, he’s improving. You see the speed, the size, the physicality. . .big body that can go in the tough areas. Can he put it together and become an effective NHL player? Time will tell.’’

Aube-Kubel has been toiling on the fourth line but if he keeps playing like he did in the two wins over Columbus, that could change.

On the flip side, he can’t afford to take the foot off the gas pedal or he could wind up back in Allentown.

“I can’t have a bad game,’’ he said. “Even if I was on the second line or third line, it’s my mindset that I can’t have a bad game.’’

Both Farabee and Kubel also have shown a willingness to mix it up. Farabee leads the team with 39 penalty minutes and Aube-Kubel has rung up 19 in just 28 games.

Meanwhile, Myers seems to make a bigger impact with each passing game. The Flyers’ TV channel (NBC) named him Player of the Game on Thursday night, selecting him ahead of sudden-death overtime scorer Kevin Hayes.

For Myers, the disappointment of not making the team on opening night has worn off.

“Obviously I’m getting a lot more trust from the coach,’’ said Myers, who noted that he got his first OT shift of the season against the Blue Jackets. “I’m just trying to keep things simple, not trying to force plays, just let the game come to me.

“It’s been a learning process and it’s been going real well the last month or so.’’


>Trade rumor mill somewhat quiet


Other than those Shayne Gostisbehere rumors, the Flyers don’t seem to be the subject of much speculation as Monday’s NHL trade deadline nears.

It’s pretty much a given the Flyers could use another proven scorer or two but general manager Chuck Fletcher doesn’t sound like he wants to part with any prominent roster player in a proposed deal.

If there’s a rental/UFA type out there, Fletcher might be interested providing the price is right.


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About Wayne Fish 2471 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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