Joel Farabee was 5 years old when Sidney Crosby made his NHL debut.
One would understand if Farabee was nervous playing against the two-time Hart Memorial Trophy winner and three-time Stanley Cup champion for the first time as a teenage rookie in the NHL.
But Farabee has more than held his own against some of the league's biggest stars, which says a lot about the Flyers' 2018 first-round pick who just turned 20 years old in February.
“Wow, there are a lot of good players in the NHL," Farabee said Monday on NBC Sports Philadelphia's Flyers Talk podcast when asked who was the toughest player he has faced in 2019-20. "Just playing against Sidney Crosby a few times was really cool, I think he had a few points in both the games that I played in. You could see him in warmups and stuff like that, how focused he is and he’s such a good player, he sees the ice so well.
“Another player I’d say is Nathan MacKinnon, how good he is, how fast of a skater he is. Those are two guys I definitely get excited playing against just because of how good they are. I enjoy being on the ice with them.”
When the Flyers beat the Penguins, 3-0, on Jan. 21, Farabee played on a line with Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek. That trio faced Crosby's line a bunch and No. 87 went scoreless as the Flyers shut out Pittsburgh.
The Flyers had no fear putting Farabee in such a situation. He also played on the same line Feb. 1, when the Flyers held MacKinnon to no points in a 6-3 win over the Avalanche.
In five combined games against the Penguins and Avalanche, Farabee has put up four points (two goals, two assists) — and his role grew with each matchup.
The path to his NHL dream prepared Farabee for those moments.
“Leaving to go to prep school at 14 I think it was, it was definitely totally different, I had never really lived away from home," Farabee said. "Being able to live away from home, play on a team really helped me out, it forced myself to rely on teammates. I think when I was really young, I was a really shy kid, didn’t really want to talk to people because I was so shy. Being away from home really taught me how to be an adult and how to grow up outside of hockey more or less playing hockey.”
And at 20 years old, Farabee is just getting started for the Flyers.
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