Joel Farabee had just polished off the first two-goal game of his NHL career.
He had just extended his point streak to a season-high five games, the best stretch of his rookie season.
The numbers were obvious — four goals and two assists through the five-game spree. He had three goals in his previous 37 games.
But Farabee knew one figure off the top of his head before he could even look at the box score from the Flyers' 6-3 win Saturday night over the Avalanche at the Wells Fargo Center (see observations).
This number was not next to his name. This number was alongside the Avalanche's superstar 24-year-old center Nathan MacKinnon.
MacKinnon, a fast and physical force down the middle, came in with 72 points (30 goals, 42 assists) through 49 games. Farabee, playing on a line with Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek, helped keep MacKinnon scoreless.
As Farabee has enjoyed the offensive opportunity of playing on Couturier's line, he's embracing the defensive challenge that comes with it just as much. That is equally, if not more, important for the Flyers.
Absolutely," Farabee said Saturday night. "You get the opportunity to play against the best guys, you’re not going to want to let them score. Just staying on top of those guys. MacKinnon is probably one of the fastest guys in the league. I don’t think he had a point tonight, so I think that’s a win in our book.
We’re playing against some really good players. You’ve just got stay on top of your checks I think is the biggest thing. Obviously they’re good players, but we’re pretty good players, too. We have that confidence that we’re going to beat their best line.
Another win in the Flyers' book is watching Farabee's growth at a crucial juncture. The Feb. 24 trade deadline is nearing and 30 games remain in the Flyers' pursuit for the playoffs.
Many knew of Farabee's offensive package as he quickly climbed to the Flyers after being drafted 14th overall in 2018. What has kept him with the big club as a 19-year-old is his attention to detail and effort away from the puck. The qualities have paved the way for his offensive surge, which is coming just in time. The Flyers entered Sunday one point out of third place in the Metropolitan Division and holding the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot.
The Flyers are looking for Farabee to be this type of a difference-maker the rest of the way. They are 13-1-3 when he records a point and 9-13-3 when he goes scoreless.
“I think people forget he's 19 years old," Kevin Hayes said. "I mean, I couldn't do what he's doing when I was 19. It’s impressive. ... He deserves to be here every single night."
For one night, he wasn't. With the Flyers in a roster and cap bind, Farabee was loaned to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley and missed the team's 4-3 OT win over the Blues on Jan. 15.
Farabee called it a "reset button." He was back the very next game and has since gone on his point streak.
"You kind of need a little bit of a kick in the ass sometimes to get comfortable with it," Hayes said. "He works hard, he puts in the effort every day and it has shown. But you want to play every game. I'm sure when he was a healthy scratch, he wasn't too happy. It's an ego shot. That happened to me with [Alain Vigneault] my second year.
"You want to play every night, you want to go to battle with your teammates, and when you don't, I don't want to say embarrassing, but it's a shot to your ego for sure. I think he's responded fantastically."
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