Based on last year’s team-leading 20 goals in a pandemic-shortened 56-game season, Joel Farabee figured to get off to a fast start for the current campaign.
It didn’t exactly go as planned for the Flyers third-year forward.
Like many of his teammates, Farabee struggled at the outset, collecting just four goals in his first 17 games. Moving from line to line, because of frequent absences endured by teammates due to COVID and injuries, probably didn’t help much.
But perhaps in part due to a coaching change in early December – as well as recovery from an injury – Farabee has turned things around, notching seven goals in his last 12 encounters.
“It doesn’t matter who I play with,’’ Farabee said during a media Zoom call after Saturday morning’s skate at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees, N.J. “I try to play the same way, be predictable, stick to the system. When you stick to the system and do the little things right, you get chances.’’
A perfect example was the other night in Boston when Farabee worked a nifty give-and-go with Cam Atkinson and finished off a one-timer past Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.
“Playing with ‘G’ (Claude Giroux) and Cam, they’re two really good players,’’ the 21-year-old Farabee pointed out. “For me it’s really easy. I try to find them any time I can. We can create a lot of offense. Hopefully we can keep that going.’’
The Flyers have been stressing the need to play a consistent 60 minutes and Farabee has taken that message to heart.
“In every game I think there’s probably a five- to 10-minute stretch where you’re not playing great,’’ Farabee said. “We have to be able to fight through that. I feel like this year when those stretches happen, we give up two or three (goals) and we’re out of the game. Just keep building momentum, try not to lose it and when we do face adversity we have to really dig in and not give up too much.’’
Rasmus Ristolainen has been cleared from COVID protocol and took part in the morning skate but was not scheduled to play against the New York Rangers on Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
“He doesn’t feel quite there yet,’’ interim head coach Mike Yeo said. “But good to have him back. He’s been playing a lot of really good hockey for us, a real competitive guy. Miss him on the penalty kill, miss him in defensive situations. But you have to make sure the player is ready.’
For Ristolainen, this is his second bout with COVID. Last season, while playing for the Buffalo Sabres, he suffered through some serious symptoms. This year, it’s a much milder case.
Max Willman, who also has recovered from COVID, has been returned to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms for the time being but he could be back with the Flyers at some point pending roster needs.
There is no timeline yet for the potential return of injured center Sean Couturier (upper-body injury). Ditto defenseman Ryan Ellis (lower-body injury), who has been sidelined for most of the season.
“Both guys are getting their therapy,’’ Yeo said. “Both are very anxious to get back but neither have been on the ice. There’s no update as to when we can expect them back yet.’’
Derick Brassard continues to recover from injury and has yet to begin skating. He’s listed as day-to-day.
>York, Sanheim reunited
Although Yeo put rookie defenseman Cam York and Justin Braun together for the start of the Boston game, he switched things around mid-stream and placed York back with Travis Sanheim. That pair was tentatively set to continue to play together for the Rangers game.
Braun will return to a first-D pairing with Ivan Provorov.
“We thought they (York-Sanheim) played really well together,’’ Yeo said. “I thought they did a nice job, their execution, a couple nice breakouts helped relieved pressure to get to the offensive zone.’’