PHILADELPHIA – If a number of Flyers had played with as much fire in their eyes as Joel Farabee did this season, they probably wouldn’t be clearing out their lockers Tuesday morning.
The 21-year-old Farabee, who before Monday night’s season-closing game was announced as recipient of the Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy for most improved player this season, showed why he won the award by scoring a pair of goals in a 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils.
Those two goals gave him 20 for the 56-game season, making him the second-youngest player in Flyers history to lead the team in goals.
Farabee looks like the young player who will lead this generation of prospects into regular Flyers players in the years ahead.
As usual, the Flyers fell behind early, digging a 2-0 game before the game at the Wells Fargo Center was six minutes old.
But Farabee scored at the 13:44 mark to get the Flyers back in it and later sealed the deal by scoring with just 3:52 to play.
The game sort of typified Farabee’s season. He was a steady, offensive force throughout.
“He played extremely well right from the beginning,’’ coach Alain Vigneault said in a post-game media Zoom call. “I’ve said this on occasion, a very smart hockey player. Good for him to get two tonight and get to 20.’’
Some of the Flyers are starting to get up there in terms of hockey “mileage,’’ so it’s good to see some new blood like Farabee, Wade Allison and Cam York showing promise.
“He (Farabee) is a young player with a lot of potential,’’ Vigneault said. “I don’t think he’s achieved his full potential yet. It’s going to be on him to have the right type of attitude, the right type of work ethic, the right type of commitment.
“As an organization and a team, we need him to fulfill that. He’s proven he can be an effective player, a useful player. We need him to continue that progression.’’
Farabee admitted he was pleased to reach 20 goals. In a regular 82-game season, that’s on pace for over 30 goals.
“I think going into the season, I never really expected it to happen,’’ he said. “Personally, I’m proud of myself. I did a lot of work in the summer. I feel that it paid off.’’
The Flyers finished over .500. They have finished below .500 only once since 1993-94.
At least the Flyers finished on a positive note.
“By no means did we live up to expectations this year,’’ James van Riemsdyk said. “It was an up and down season. . .probably more down than up. You want to go out on a positive note going into the offseason. It’s a bitter taste we didn’t make the playoffs and accomplish more of the goals we had.’’
Couturier appreciates what Farabee has accompished.
“He took a big step forward in his development,’’ Couturier said. “Expectations were high since we drafted him; it’s nice to see him developing into the player he’s becoming.’’
>Elliott plans to continue career
After the game, goaltender Brian Elliott said he plans on playing next season and would prefer to do so here in Philadelphia.
But the 36-year-old is a pending unrestricted free agent and there’s no guarantee the Flyers will ask him to come back.
“It was good to get the last one to stay above .500,’’ Elliott said.
“I plan to play next year, I feel like I have a lot to give. I feel like I’m playing really good hockey and otherwise I had another really good year where I didn’t see the training room once.’’
Elliott said he understands teams that don’t make the playoffs often make changes. He just hopes he isn’t one of them.
“You just have to roll with the punches,’’ he said. “I’d love to stay here. Keep searching for that (Stanley) Cup. I just kind of let my play speak for itself.’’
>Braun suffers broken foot
Vigneault disclosed defenseman Justin Braun suffered a broken foot in the first period.
“He played the right way right to the end,’’ Vigneault said. “Blocked a shot and broke his foot.’’
Although Ivan Provorov was voted best defenseman this season (the Barry Ashbee Trophy), Braun did receive some consideration.
“That (injury) is why he’s appreciated by his teammates,’’ Vigneault said. “And he’s respected by the coaching staff and management.
“He has a certain skill set and he maximizes that skill set. Plays the right way, does a lot of little things that might go unnoticed. But there are so many subtle things that he does right, that’s why he’s respected by his peers.’’
>Exit interviews begin Tuesday
In the past, the Flyers have waited a day or so to begin conducting exits interviews. Not this year.
Those meetings will begin on Tuesday. Both Vigneault and general manager Chuck Fletcher are expected to address the media via Zoom calls, so there should be some hot topics of discussion, including possible changes in the offseason.
“We have to analyze what happened here properly,’’ Vigneault said. “Those meetings will go on for a few days. You can’t do that on emotion, you need to step back a little bit.’’
Van Riemsdyk, who finished with 17 goals, said he was honored to receive the Yanick Dupre Class Guy Award for sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. The award is presented by the Philadelphia chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. “As you move on in your career, you realize things like that are important,’’ he said. “It’s nice to be acknowledged like that.’’ . . .Van Riemsdyk scored his 10th power play goal of the season. His 0.178 PPG per game is the highest PPG per game average for a Flyer since Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds averaged 0.215 and 0.195, respectively, in the 2016-17 season.. . .Couturier had a goal and an assist to finish the season with 41 points in 45 games. His points-per-game average of 0.91 is the third-highest of his career and his best since a 76-point season in 80 games (0.95) in 2017-18.