Flyers

How Joel Farabee separates himself and can 'take somebody's job away' with Flyers

How Joel Farabee separates himself and can 'take somebody's job away' with Flyers

VOORHEES, N.J. — Joel Farabee is as offensively talented as any prospect in the Flyers' farm system.

The 2018 first-round pick can score in a variety of ways, whether it's making a play in open ice or deceiving a goalie in close. His all-around game of speed and skill has him nearing the Flyers at just 19 years old.

That offensive ability is what many are giddy about. It's his ticket to the NHL … right?

Well, Farabee is pretty smart. The winger knows his quickest climb to the Flyers would be snatching a bottom-six role and taking on some not-so-glamorous responsibilities.

He's aware of the Flyers' job opening and its qualifications.

"Honestly, I think by the end of my career, I'll be more of a PK guy rather than a power play guy," Farabee said Tuesday at Flyers rookie camp. "I think the game really well, so I think that helps on the PK. If I can play power play, too, that would be awesome. My strengths are when I can outthink guys, so if you can use me that way, I think that's when I play my best."

It's not all too common to hear a first-round forward gush about his PK prowess. Farabee, though, truly embraces his versatility. He battles along the boards, works hard on the forecheck and thrives on beating opponents to the puck.

With training camp set to begin Friday, the Flyers have a vacancy on their third line. They have plenty of guys that can fill the power play. Their top six is crowded. But a bottom-six role and some potential penalty kill minutes are up for grabs.

Farabee clearly knows.

"I think the game really well, so I kind of know where guys are behind me and what plays they're trying to make, so I think that helps me on my forecheck and where I can break up plays," he said. "I take a lot pride in that part my game.

"I think one of my strengths as a player is being able to play all different kinds of roles. I think I can play top six and I think I can also play bottom six. I think that really helps me out trying to get to the next level when spots are open."

Among the country's freshmen last season, the one-and-done Boston University product finished tied for second in goals with 17 — three of which were shorthanded.

AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley head coach Scott Gordon liked Farabee's mindset.

"If I'm a player and you go through college and junior, you can be the best power play guy — at the end of the day, you join an organization as a rookie, you have to take somebody's job away," Gordon said. "They're not going to hand it to you. You have to really show something that separates yourself from the other guys that are on the power play.

"I look at the options that the Flyers have, good on him to be able to say, 'You know what, the reality is, I might not be able to play on the power play, so how can I get my minutes?' 

"Any player that starts his career in the minors, I think — whether he's an offensive player or not — he should have the mindset to want to be a good bottom-six guy in the American League. It doesn't mean that you don't play offense, but do all the things that a bottom-six guy in the NHL does, whether it's being good defensively, maybe it's a matchup, maybe it's killing penalties, whatever it might be — to give yourself an opportunity to keep you in the lineup because of your versatility."

Like it is with any job, the more you can do, the better.

And Farabee gets that.

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Ivan Provorov earns Flyers' 2019-20 Barry Ashbee Trophy

Ivan Provorov earns Flyers' 2019-20 Barry Ashbee Trophy

Following a down season in 2018-19, Ivan Provorov was a restricted free agent and up for a new deal. After the entire offseason, Provorov and the Flyers agreed to a six-year, $40.5 million contract the night before training camp, making the 2015 first-round pick the club's highest-paid blueliner.

Provorov, a work-till-you-drop player, was clearly determined to rebound in 2019-20 and prove his worth.

He did and added to the credence Thursday as the winner of the Flyers' 2019-20 Barry Ashbee Trophy, given to the team's "most outstanding defenseman," an honor voted on by a panel of sports writers and broadcasters. It marks the second time Provorov has won the award in four years with the Flyers as he took home the trophy his rookie 2016-17 season.

"It's just a great honor," Provorov said in a statement released by the Flyers. "There are a lot of great defensemen that have played for the Flyers and have won this in the past. I think overall this year, our defense is a lot better. We're defending as a five-man unit, the forwards are backchecking, so it allows us to step up and get the puck back faster."

Provorov, who has never missed a game in his NHL career, playing 315 straight, did it all for the Flyers during the regular season. He played the league's eighth-most minutes per game at 24:51, led all NHL defensemen in power play goals with seven, and led Flyers blueliners in goals (13), points (36), blocked shots (111), shorthanded ice time (189:30) and man advantage ice time (210:05).

In 13 fewer games this season, Provorov put up six more goals, four more assists (23) and 10 more points than he did last season, while going from a minus-16 to a plus-11. Over his first three seasons, Provorov had 12 power play points (two goals, 10 assists). This season, Provorov put up 16 man advantage points (seven goals, nine assists). He has become a bona-fide do-it-all blueliner for the Flyers at 23 years old.

"I think he's one of the best young defensemen in the league," Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet said in December.

"He plays with an edge in a sense that he doesn’t play safe. He’s up the ice, he makes plays, he’s not scared the way he plays. Not so much scared physically, just the way he plays, he’s trying to win the game. As a young guy, he wants to be in those spots. When I watch him, he wants the puck. I love young kids like that, they’re not scared.”

On the blue line, the Flyers are built around Provorov — and for at least five more seasons.

The Flyers have handed out their annual team awards throughout the week. Kevin Hayes was the recipient of the Gene Hart Memorial Award, while Scott Laughton earned the Yanick Dupre Class Guy Award and Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy.

On Friday, the winner of the Bobby Clarke Trophy (Flyers most valuable player) will be announced.

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Is Claude Giroux's playoff history telling of what's to come for the captain?

Is Claude Giroux's playoff history telling of what's to come for the captain?

As the NHL playoffs get closer and closer (which sounds weird to say during this time of year), the analysis of potential playoff matchups and the key factors for the Flyers is well underway. Regardless of the matchup, a few things are certain for the Flyers. One of those is that they need their captain to be on top of his game when the playoffs begin to have success.

Claude Giroux’s playoff history can best be described as a long and winding road. We’ve seen examples in all sports where young players reach the pinnacle of their sport early in their career and never getting back to that peak again. In the NFL, Dan Marino reached the Super Bowl in his rookie season and never made it back. In somewhat similar fashion, Giroux in his first full season in the NHL reached the Stanley Cup Final for a Flyers team with a leadership group that included Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Chris Pronger. Giroux was dynamic in those playoffs with 21 points in 23 games — that included 10 goals, 11 assists and an overtime winner in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The two years following that Cup Final run, Giroux continued to be a great player in the playoffs. In 2011, Giroux had 12 points in 11 playoff games. Then, in the 2012 playoffs, Giroux was perhaps his most dominant. Giroux had 17 points in 10 playoff games and was a force in the opening round against the Penguins. In Game 1 of that series, Giroux told his teammates, “Watch my first shift.” 

What his teammates saw was the captain put a huge hit on Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and then score a goal to give the Flyers the lead. They never looked back, dispatching their cross-state rival in six games. That playoff run ended with a 4-1 series loss to the Devils in the second round, a series in which Giroux was suspended a game after a hit on Dainus Zubrus in Game 4.

Since 2011-12, the playoffs haven’t been exactly kind to No. 28, with first-round losses in 2014, 2016 and 2018. In those years combined, in 19 playoff games, Giroux scored just three goals and registered only seven assists for a total of 10 points. In the Flyers' last playoff appearance against the Penguins in 2018, Giroux had a minus-10 rating in six games.

The past few seasons have been a little different for Giroux with moving to the wing, while still assuming some of the center’s defensive responsibilities at times. Could that change in position allow Giroux to be that dominant force on the offensive end again? Possibly. Of course, playing with Sean Couturier in the middle is never a bad thing and that’s likely where Giroux will find himself when this year’s playoffs begin and the captain looks to regain his early career offensive playoff magic.

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