VOORHEES – He can’t buy a beer yet but he sure can start a Stanley Cup playoff game.
Nothing is set in stone but from early observations it appears 20-year-old rookie Joel Farabee just might be playing second-line left wing when the Stanley Cup round-robin tournament begins Aug. 2.
At least, that’s where Farabee played in Friday’s fifth day of training camp at the Skate Zone, lined up alongside veterans Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny.
And to think there were those who thought Farabee might have trouble even making the starting roster of 12 forwards.
Actually, from the way last season ended, nobody was really sure about anything.
Farabee was toiling away on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms when James van Riemsdyk suffered a broken finger with two games left in the regular season.
The Flyers called Farabee back up for those final two matches and it completed a wild campaign which saw the Syracuse, N.Y. native start the year in Allentown, then sit out two three-game stints in Philadelphia followed by a send-back to the AHL again on Feb. 25 after the trades for Nate Thompson and Derek Grant.
All that said, the Flyers must have been duly impressed with Farabee’s offseason work to give him such strong consideration, including the second-line assignment which essentially bumps van Riemsdyk back to third-line duty.
“I think the biggest thing is just getting that chemistry going,’’ Farabee said. “I’m feeling pretty good, playing with TK and ‘Hayesy.’+’’
Farabee could be excused for feeling a little weary last season. His 37 games with Boston University in 2018-19 were his previous career high and last year he competed in 57, including 52 with the Flyers.
“Right before the pause I was feeling pretty good,’’ Farabee said. “The most tired I was probably right around the West Coast trip (Christmas break). That was when I was the most burned out. I think I figured out how to eat (right) and keep my energy going through a full season.
“(Now) through playoffs I’m better prepared and even into next year I think I have a pretty good idea on what I need to do.’’
Although still technically a rookie, Farabee has been around the Flyers for nearly a year and has a pretty good idea what aspects of his game have improved and which ones still need work.
“It’s just my confidence,’’ he said. “I kind of know where guys are going to be, know what kind of play needs to be made. Once I figured out our systems and everything I was able to get into a good rhythm.
“I think the pause helped, too; kind of a reset button. Now we know the systems, we know what we need to do. It’s just about executing. I think I feel pretty confident in myself, making small plays. It’s going to be big in the playoffs and you have to play smart to win games.’’
Farabee did total eight goals in those 52 games but it looked like he hit a lot of posts or was robbed by some crazy saves down the stretch. He was getting a lot of chances but not quite finishing.
Is it just a matter of bearing down a little harder in close?
“I think it’s good that I’m getting those chances,’’ he said. “I want to finish the opportunity and be able to put points up. I think heading into the playoffs, it’s just bearing down more, trying to get the puck into the back of the net. We need goals to win games and if I have the opportunity to score, I have to believe in myself that I can do it.’’
Assistant coach Mike Yeo likes what he’s seen of Farabee in this camp.
“He’s obviously a very strong candidate (for the second line),’’ Yeo said. “All along, the plan has been to give him a couple days up there. After tomorrow’s (Saturday’s) scrimmage, we plan to make some line-up changes and I’m assuming that plan will stay the same.’’
Added first-line center Sean Couturier: “He’s looked great. He went through some ups and downs but he stayed with it, learned from his struggles but it just made him a better player. I think the league is getting younger. . .you can kind of see their improvement every year and it feels like he took another step forward. He’s a big part of our future.’’