NHL

Flyers call up Mark Friedman for 2018-19 regular-season finale

Flyers call up Mark Friedman for 2018-19 regular-season finale

While the Flyers' 2018-19 season will come to an end Saturday, the NHL career of Mark Friedman will just begin.

The 2014 third-round draft pick is expected to make his NHL debut at the Wells Fargo Center against the Hurricanes (7 p.m./NBCSP) after being called up Friday from AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley. As a result, Philippe Myers was loaned to the Phantoms.

Friedman, a 23-year-old defenseman, plays a hard and physical game with the ability to draw penalties. He impressed in the preseason and was a plus-4 during the exhibition slate.

With Lehigh Valley this season, Friedman has five goals and 19 assists in 71 games.

The 5-foot-11, 185-pounder played three years of college hockey at Bowling Green, where he was a plus-21 in 121 games. Friedman brings some offensive potential but his primary focus is competing in his own end.

As for Myers, sending the 22-year-old down is not a big deal. The Phantoms have five games remaining. Myers was rewarded for his progress with a call-up in February. He now has 21 games of NHL exposure and will be ready to push for a full-time role in 2019-20.

Friedman gets his reward with a taste of the NHL before pushing alongside Myers in training camp.

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NHL playoff picture: Breaking down Flyers’ grim chances

NHL playoff picture: Breaking down Flyers’ grim chances

It was a game the Flyers absolutely needed to have. With the Canadiens directly above them in the standings, the Flyers missed out on a golden opportunity to close the gap between themselves and the Columbus Blue Jackets, who occupy the second wild card spot in the standings.    

A week ago, the Flyers trailed the Blue Jackets by just three points in the standings. Now the margin is six back with nine games remaining for both teams. However, by not holding the tiebreaker of regulation/overtime wins, the Flyers actually need to make up seven points in the standings.

Wild-card standings

Carolina      40-25-7 — 87 points, 10 GR, 38 ROW
Columbus   40-29-4 — 84 points, 9 GR, 39 ROW
———
Montreal     38-28-7 — 83 points, 9 GR, 35 ROW
Flyers          34-29-8 — 78 points, 9 GR, 32 ROW

Tuesday’s Games

PHI — L 3-1 vs. Montreal
CAR — W 3-2 (SO) vs. Pittsburgh
CBJ — L 4-2 at Calgary

• The Flyers scored less than two goals for the first time since Feb. 21 against the same Canadiens in Montreal. Right now, those two regulation losses against the Habs are the difference in the standings and being just two points out of the wild card.

• Former Flyer Justin Williams scored the game-tying goal with 1:56 remaining in regulation and defenseman Dougie Hamilton connected in the shootout as the Hurricanes move closer to ending the NHL’s longest playoff drought.
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• South Jersey’s Johnny Gaudreau scored his 35th goal of the season as the Blue Jackets began their three-game Western Canada road trip.

What are the odds? 

According to Sports Club Stats, the Flyers’ playoff odds dipped below one percent to 0.7, down from 2.6 percent after their thrilling overtime win in Pittsburgh.

The website Money Puck has the Flyers' odds at the same. However, they’ve increased their chances of winning the NHL Draft Lottery at 2.3 percent. 

What lies ahead? 

All four teams listed above return to action on Thursday.

The Flyers travel to Chicago to face the Blackhawks, who had won five straight before a 3-2 loss to Vancouver Monday night.  

The Canadiens host the New York Islanders, while the Blue Jackets travel north to face the Edmonton Oilers.

Carolina takes on Tampa Bay. The Lightning just clinched the President’s Trophy with the best record in the regular season.

Strength of schedule

According to PlayoffStatus.com, the Flyers’ schedule gets a little easier with games against the Maple Leafs and Penguins behind them. The Flyers now have the 10th-toughest schedule down the stretch with seven of their nine games against teams with better records.

• Blue Jackets — 9th
• Canadiens — 13th
• Hurricanes — 21st

Columbus still has a ton of miles to log with six of their remaining nine games on the road. Montreal has an extremely tough closing schedule as they play their last four games at Winnipeg, vs. Tampa Bay, at Washington and the finale against Toronto.   

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Similarities between Flyers prospect Joel Farabee and James van Riemsdyk are striking

Similarities between Flyers prospect Joel Farabee and James van Riemsdyk are striking

BOSTON — Joel Farabee took time out of his hectic college schedule of practice, studying and commuting to catch the first half of the Flyers-Bruins game while meeting general manager Chuck Fletcher for the first time.

There are still adjustments for the 18-year-old Boston University freshman to living in the big city. Navigating around Boston's quirky streets is a challenge, rush hour traffic being the reason he didn't arrive at TD Garden until the opening faceoff.

However, Farabee, who will turn 19 later this month, was long gone before the second period ended. There was no time to stick around and meet some of his future teammates with a game against No. 2-ranked UMass on Friday night.  

Ask Farabee when he sees himself wearing orange and black and the answer is typically in stride with any other first-round selection.

I’d like to get there as soon as possible. I think that would be what everybody would say. I’m just taking it day-by-day right now and focusing on what I need to do to get to this level. Once the season ends, we’ll see what happens if I go back, I’m not really sure yet.

If you’re looking for a comparable player to measure Farabee’s development, James van Riemsdyk is the first guy that comes to mind. 

The similarities have been striking. Both athletes went through the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP), and then respectively, took their careers to Hockey East, with van Riemsdyk spending two seasons at University of New Hampshire. Farabee’s interview even sounds a lot like van Riemsdyk when he speaks.

As expected, following a slow start, Farabee has adjusted almost seamlessly — his game has grown and so has he. 

Listed at 6-foot-1, 170 pounds, he’s probably more in the 180-pound range now as he continues to increase his size and strength by adding muscle. Farabee has also put together a recent 10-game stretch scoring five goals and added eight assists. By the end of the season, he should be the Terriers' leading scorer.   

“It’s going really well,” Farabee said. “It’s nice to get a little change of pace from the national program, and go to school and be in Boston. Obviously, school comes first there, but hockey is a pretty close second. We’re pretty focused on what we need to do. I don’t get caught up in being a college athlete.” 

Looking over the class selection at BU, one might expect a college athlete to register for Gangster Films (yes, that’s actually a class), but Farabee prefers his course in sports psychology. After all, it’s just another step in his overall development. 

“A lot of it is being coachable and stuff like that,” Farabee said. “That’s been the first couple of classes and looking at yourself, how good of a person you are, and what you can do to make strides in your everyday life.” 

Farabee’s strides are now turning into leaps. 

It helped to be surrounded with high-caliber talent at the USNTDP, where five players were selected in the first 41 picks of the 2018 NHL draft, and everything about Farabee suggests he’s the complete player — his speed, his skill, his leadership and a commitment to being an all-around player.  

van Riemsdyk spent two seasons playing collegiately, before joining the Phantoms briefly at the end of his sophomore season. The following year he joined the Flyers full-time at the age of 21.

By that standard, if you’re wondering when Farabee could join the likes of Carter Hart, Ivan Provorov and Nolan Patrick, the 2020-21 campaign is one to target. 

Everything about Farabee suggests he’ll be more than ready.  

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