It won’t take long for Flyers rookie Joel Farabee to prove whether he belongs in a playoff game lineup.
Head coach Alain Vigneault made it known Farabee will replace the injured Michael Raffl when Philadelphia takes on the Washington Capitals in the second round-robin game on Thursday in Toronto.
Raffl left Sunday’s 4-1 win over Boston late in the third period with an undisclosed injury, believed to be his left leg, after a collision with the Bruins’ Jeremy Lauzon.
Per the current NHL protocol which allows teams to remain silent on the status of injured players, the only real disclosure coach Alain Vigneault would make is that Raffl won’t be playing in the next game.
Farabee played in 49 regular-season games (eight goals, 21 points), so he’s not exactly a wide-eyed kid heading into his first Stanley Cup playoff action.
According to Vigneault, the Farabee installment might not be the only personnel change.
After Monday’s practice, Vigneault said he might do a little tinkering with his lineup in Wednesday’s practice (the team is off Tuesday) before making any final decisions for Thursday.
“Joel is definitely going to be in the lineup next game, but I’m also looking at other possibilities here,’’ Vigneault said in a Zoom call. “We’ve got today, tomorrow and a practice day before we play on Thursday. There’s a possibility there will be some other changes.
“I’m just in the process now of watching the game (video footage). Going through the different stats that we have available to us after a game. I’m going to give myself until Wednesday to decide what if any other changes will be made other than the addition of Joel.’’
Would Vigneault consider sitting a veteran such as James van Riemsdyk, who seems to be struggling early on, both in the Boston game and the preseason game against Pittsburgh last week?
“I thought James, in training camp in our first phase in Philly, looked extremely good,’’ Vigneault said. “I thought he was skating well. He was making some good plays with the puck. I will say so far since we’ve gotten here in Toronto in our two games I’m expecting more. We’ll see here what happens moving forward.’’
Van Riemsdyk has already been pushed down to the third line and demoting someone making $7 million a year to a fourth line with limited ice time really doesn’t make any sense.
As for Raffl, Vigneault can’t say much but the end of his comment about the Austria native sounded a bit optimistic.
“I can’t get into specifics,’’ Vigneault said. “I can’t get into lengths because of NHL protocol. I can say he’s not going to be available for a little bit here.’’
A couple players said they believe Farabee can handle any first game nerves.
“He’s looked good,’’ said Tyler Pitlick, who may have Farabee as a linemate if Farabee opens on the fourth line. “He’s a very skilled player. He’s a very smart player. He does a lot of things right. I think he’s been good.
“We’ve got a tough situation right now. We have a lot of good players and a lot of different roles that need to be filled. It’s tough to be out. I think he (Farabee) will stay ready. He’s staying positive. He’ll be ready to go when it’s time for him to be called on.’’
Farabee began his NHL career at age 19 and Sean Couturier started at 18. Couturier knows it’s not easy playing in the world’s best league as a teenager. Farabee just turned 20 but you get the idea.
“Especially coming back from the quarantine there, he looks really good,’’ Couturier said. “He looks like he took a step forward. Just the way he battles and is involved with the puck and without the puck.
“He’s had a good year last year (the 2019-20 season). It’s tough your rookie year, you have some ups and downs. I think the important thing is to grow from it and learn from it. He came back prepared and he’s looked good. We’re excited to have him in the lineup. We’re counting on him to make a difference down the road.’’