Flyers

Joel Farabee, the newest piece to Flyers' future, is just like you

Joel Farabee, the newest piece to Flyers' future, is just like you

His favorite baseball player growing up was Chase Utley.

He tweeted #FlyEaglesFly on Feb. 4, and a few hours later, the Birds won their first Super Bowl.

He loves Wawa and Pat’s King of Steaks.

He has a summer house in Ocean City, New Jersey.

Joel Farabee is the most interesting man, not born in Philadelphia.

“I think there have already been a few people who have called me Joe-ELL,” Farabee said.

It is not “Joe-ELL,” it’s “Jo-ull.” Farabee will have to get used to it now that the Flyers drafted him with the 14th pick in last month’s NHL draft. There are now two prominent Joels in town.

The other Joel — and just this one instance — is Joel Embiid, an established superstar in the NBA and a national treasure on social media. Farabee has a ways to go to reach that level.

“He’s a great athlete,” Farabee said. “Two different sports, two different names.”

But that’s not how it goes in Philly. We’re famous for mispronouncing water. Farabee will have to deal with folks around here garbling his first name, at least until he creates his brand here. That is going to take time as Farabee has elected for the college hockey route and at 6-foot, 161 pounds, the Cicero, New York, native has his work carved out for him in the weight room.

Farabee departed Flyers development camp in Voorhees, New Jersey, two weeks ago to return home, pack his bags and head to Boston University for a summer Intro to Archaeology class. In the fall, he’ll join a prestigious Terriers program that’s historically churned out NHL players — Keith Tkachuk, Jack Eichel, Charlie McAvoy, Kevin Shattenkirk, Charlie Coyle, Clayton Keller.

The left winger originally committed to University of New Hampshire in December 2014 but de-committed after Scott Borek, who was an assistant at UNH, left for Providence College.

“When I committed there, I was 14,” Farabee said. “I remember when I got offered, I didn’t really know anything about college, so it was kind of a weird feeling. … Then [Borek] left, so I wanted to see some other schools. At the time I de-committed, I wasn’t 100 percent sure I was going to leave. I saw some other schools. I really just felt like BU was a great place to play.

“But I think, all in all, I don’t regret any decisions. I’m really excited to go to BU. The facilities there, the coaching staff is awesome. I’m just really excited to play there and be in Boston.”

Development camp was the first chance for Flyers fans to see Farabee and for people who stuck around from Day 1 to the conclusion with the 3-on-3 tournament, they saw a steady progression. Flyers general manager Ron Hextall insists the camp is not for talent evaluation, but it’s hockey in the summer, and it’s the first time many can get a glimpse at their prospects.

Farabee showcased his skating, skill and shot throughout the camp but dazzled during the 3-on-3 tournament. Leading up to the draft, Farabee was described to have an accurate shot with a shoot-first mentality, which was the type of prospect the Flyers certainly needed.

In the 3-on-3 tourney, Farabee put that ability on full display. There was one part of his game that Hextall highlighted afterward that the naked eye doesn’t necessarily see: deception.

“He disguises whether it’s a shot or a pass,” Hextall said. “He’s got really quick hands. A lot of guys will come down, the goalie knows where they’re going to shoot, so you see goalies make a save and go, ‘That was quick.’ It really wasn’t because they read the puck off the stick blade.

“The puck is really hard to react to. Joel hides things. If he’s going to shoot the puck, he’ll turn his hands real quick, bang and let it go. Or he’ll open up for a shot and he’ll pass the puck.

“A lot of top guys in the league, you wonder why they score or how that pass went through … they’re showing hands to the defenseman, to the goalie. Joel is one of those guys.”

The USA Hockey National Team Development Program had a pretty strong 2018 draft class with 16 players selected. The Flyers drafted two — Farabee and Gavin Hain (174th overall). Jay O’Brien, the Flyers’ second first-round pick, had a brief stint with the NTDP but wasn’t a regular.

Farabee played on a line with Oliver Wahlstrom, who was drafted by the Islanders with the 11th overall pick, and Jack Hughes, who's projected to go No. 1 overall in 2019, last season. During his age-17 season, he was with Wahlstrom and Jake Wise, who he’ll play with at BU.

“It was really good. They’re really elite players, they’re really fun to play with,” Farabee said. “They think the game really well. It makes the game a lot easier when you know where they’re going to be. I really loved playing with them. I get to play with Wise at BU next year and I’ll be playing against Wahlstrom at [Boston College], a little rivalry.”

Circling back on that February Sunday evening that forever changed Philadelphia sports, Farabee, Wise and Wahlstrom were back together again. This time, with their billet family.

The trio, along with Mattias Samuelsson, the son of Flyers director of player development Kjell Samuelsson, watched the Eagles beat the Patriots, 41-33. Wise and Wahlstrom are Pats fans.

“It was a fun rivalry,” Farabee said.

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Flyers vs. Canadiens NHL playoffs: Game 1 live stream, storylines, more

Flyers vs. Canadiens NHL playoffs: Game 1 live stream, storylines, more

For the first time since 2000, the Flyers will open the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed.

They kick off their first-round series Wednesday against the eighth-seeded Canadiens.

With the Flyers set to begin what feels and looks like their most credible chance at a Stanley Cup run since 2011 or 2012, let's look at five big storylines ahead of their matchup with Montreal:

When: 8 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 7 p.m. ET
Where: Scotiabank Arena
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• The goaltending matchup is well-advertised: Carter Hart vs. Carey Price, youngster vs. idol. As Hart, who turns 22 years old on Thursday, started molding his game, he looked up to Price, who turns 33 years old on Sunday.

"Any time you have a chance to play against somebody that you looked up to, it’s always exciting, and in the playoffs even more," Claude Giroux said Monday. "It's two good goaltenders; it’s going to be a treat to watch."

Everybody knows how Price can dictate an entire series by just his own ability between the pipes.

"I really believe everything’s been said about Price," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said Monday. "Obviously a premier goaltender in the league, gives the Canadiens a chance every game. I’m not sure there is much more I can add to where he is, how well he plays and what he does for that team."

A few interesting notes on both goalies:

Price has good career numbers against the Flyers, going 16-11-2 with a 2.49 goals-against average and .922 save percentage in 30 career regular-season matchups vs. the orange and black. He has been very good against them over the last two regular seasons: 3-0-1 with a 1.49 goals-against average and .959 save percentage.

There is a potential back-to-back scenario with Games 4 and 5. Despite Hart playing on no days rest only once this season (and it was in relief duty), expect him to play that back-to-back, especially given how big Game 5 could be, with the series either tied, the Flyers looking to clinch or trying to survive.

Meanwhile, Price was off his game on no days rest during the regular season, going 0-2-2 with a 3.76 goals-against average and .864 save percentage.

• The Flyers went 2-1-0 against Montreal in the regular season, with a 3-2 overtime win Nov. 7, a 4-3 overtime victory Nov. 30 and a 4-1 loss Jan. 16.

It's important to remember, though, that the Flyers got much better from early January and Hart faced the Canadiens only once (he beat them on Nov. 7). They also acquired Derek Grant and Nate Thompson at the Feb. 24 trade deadline, with Thompson coming from Montreal.

Having Nate, a veteran player that is such a pro in the way he prepares himself, the way he competes, the way he is with his teammates, a real good teammate — that’s his first and foremost value with him, he comes to play and he plays hard. Obviously in our preparation for the Montreal Canadiens, we did pick his brain on what we saw in video. I’m not going to go into length in what he shared with us; obviously that stays internal. There’s no doubt that he’s been here a short amount of time, but he’s been a real valuable player as far as bringing his game to the table every night and helping our group. In this preparation for Montreal, there’s no doubt that we did ask him a few questions.

- Vigneault

• An X-factor in this series for the Flyers is James van Riemsdyk.

The Flyers went 0 for 11 on the power play during the round robin. JVR has a long résumé of power play production in his career and makes a living on disrupting goalies around the net, which is something the Flyers must do to beat Price.

On top of van Riemsdyk playing with a little bit more to prove after being scratched for the second game of the round robin, he also owns quality lifetime numbers against the Canadiens. In 39 career regular-season matchups with Montreal, van Riemsdyk has 16 goals and nine assists. He has scored more goals against only one other team: the Sabres with 17.

Vigneault will continue to look for more from van Riemsdyk and the big winger profiles well in this series.

• After missing the round-robin finale because of an undisclosed issue, Jakub Voracek has practiced the last two days and said he's good to go.

Voracek was one of the Flyers' best players when the club started finding its identity in November. He's important to the man advantage, as well.

We'll have to wait and see if he goes back on the Flyers' top line. It seems likely he will to at least start the series given the chemistry he has with Giroux and Sean Couturier. He could also see time on the third line if the Flyers elect to play Joel Farabee on the first unit, where the rookie's strengths become much more utilized.

Because of the team's depth in a system predicated on balance, Voracek played 17:03 minutes per game in the regular season, his fewest since 2011-12, his first year with the Flyers. As a result, he was more effective in all three zones with less pressure to constantly push the envelope offensively.

"Let’s be honest, I think this is the best team since I came to Philly in 2011," Voracek said Tuesday. "That first year we had a pretty good team, but we are really deep this year. I think we showed it before the stoppage, we showed it in the last four games (three round robin, one exhibition) that basically we are capable of beating anyone. Skating well, check them well.

"Let’s be honest, I think we are going into the playoffs as one of the favorites. That’s a good feeling and hopefully we are going to find a way to go all the way because we feel really comfortable with this group. That’s where we stand right now."

As for Michael Raffl, who suffered an undisclosed injury in Game 1 of the round robin, it's uncertain when the Flyers will see his return.

• During the playoffs, Vigneault is close to the vest with his lineups. For strategic purposes, the Flyers will keep all lineup decisions to themselves moving forward.

It's uncertain if Robert Hagg or Shayne Gostisbehere will be the Flyers' sixth defenseman for Game 1. Expect to see Hagg begin the series in the lineup and with Justin Braun, but Gostisbehere opened eyes in the Flyers' 4-1 round-robin win over the Lightning to tighten the race for playing time.

If this first-round series doesn't start particularly well and the Flyers want to combat Montreal's quickness with Gostisbehere's elusiveness, they could look to call his number, as Vigneault has mentioned the importance of adjustments throughout a series.

"I’ve decided who I’m going to play for the first game, but that’s something that I’m not willing to share at this moment," Vigneault said Tuesday. "But there’s no doubt that Shayne did play his best game. You can see right now at this point that he's healthy, he’s confident about the surgery that he had on both his knees. He feels good about himself and feels energized. If we need him during the series, there’s no doubt that he'll be ready for us."


Projected lineup

Forwards

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Scott Laughton-Kevin Hayes-Travis Konecny
James van Riemsdyk-Derek Grant-Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Joel Farabee-Nate Thompson-Tyler Pitlick

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim-Philippe Myers
Robert Hagg-Justin Braun

Goalies

Carter Hart
Brian Elliott

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2020 NHL playoff odds: A look into 1st-round series on Day 2

2020 NHL playoff odds: A look into 1st-round series on Day 2

The time has finally arrived — the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs are here and you can just feel the excitement in the air. The top 16 teams are set and ready to push toward the Final. 

Day One already brought the heat, with a five-overtime Blue Jackets and Lightning game, postponement of the Hurricanes and Bruins and pure chaos in the west. 

As the second day of the first round is underway, let’s take a look at the series odds for each matchup facing off for the first time today, per DraftKings: 

Islanders-Capitals 

NY +113 WSH -136 

The Capitals had a rocky start after entering the Toronto bubble, only winning one of the three round robin games — and that one win only decided if they would enter the playoffs as the third or fourth seed. 

The most surprising aspect of the tournament was the lack of production from captain, Alexander Ovechkin. Normally a point machine, Ovechkin didn’t register a single one against the top teams in the east. It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes before he becomes the offense force the whole league knows him for — but if for some reason he still looks off his game — the Islanders have to capitalize on it immediately. 

In the qualifying round, the Islanders simply outplayed the Panthers. Through the four games, the Islanders got on the board a total of 13 times. In a best-of-seven series, a buzzing Islanders team could mean trouble for Braden Holtby. 

After splitting the regular season series at two games a piece, this first round has the potential to be much closer than originally anticipated. 

Coyotes-Avalanche 

ARI +235 COL -286 

The Avalanche were just an overtime goal away from claiming the top seed in the west, but a loss to the Golden Knights locked them in at second. 

Special teams look like they’re going to play a big factor in this series and it largely benefits Colorado. The Avalanche did some impressive numbers on the power play (25%), scoring four different times throughout the round robin. On the other side of things, the Coyotes struggled on the penalty kill (71.4%) — that is the third worst since the NHL returned to play. 

Flyers-Canadiens 

MTL +195 PHL -240

On paper, this series seems pretty much in favor of the Flyers in all aspects of the game — but after watching the Canadiens take down the Penguins, it’s not going to be as easy as many think. The Flyers climbed their way from the fourth seed to the top of the east and rightfully earned the opportunity to face the 12th seed Canadiens. 

The Flyers are riding alongside the success of 21-year-old goaltender, Carter Hart, who hasn’t had much difficulty so far in a playoff setting. If he has the ability to adapt to a seven-game series, they should be in good shape. 

Hart is also about to face one of the most respected (and one of his childhood favorites) in the NHL — Carey Price. Price is not new to the postseason scene by any means, but a goaltender has the ability to steal a game or two in a series. However, if the Flyers come out with the same intensity they had in the round robin, they should still come out on top. 

Canucks-Blues 

VAN +167 STL -200 

The defending Stanley Cup champions are ready to fight and defend their title, but the Canucks won’t be an easy battle at the starting line. 

Essentially a dark horse in the west, the Canucks quietly had a decent qualifying round. After being shutout in the first game against the Wild, the Canucks took the next three and hit the ground running to the first round. After not making the playoffs for the previous four seasons, the Canucks are ready to make some noise. 

The Blues didn’t win a single round robin game, so it’ll be interesting to see how long it takes for them to adapt to a series. Jordan Binnington, the Blues’ go-to goaltender, has had some difficulty adjusting to play, especially when he faced the Golden Knights and allowed six goals. When goaltenders have the potential to steal a game or two in a series, it’s crucial for him to get back to his A-game.  

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