In what was a tumultuous 2020-21 season for the Philadelphia Flyers, Joel Farabee was one of the team’s brightest spots. Finishing the season with 20 goals and 38 points through 55 games, the young power forward was oftentimes one of the team’s best players.
It wasn’t all peaches and cream for Farabee, though. While he was electrifying for long stretches of games, there were other stretches where he would vanish from the scoresheet entirely. On three occasions, he went five or more games without registering a point, including a couple of worrisome eight and nine-game pointless streaks that took place near the end of the season when the Flyers were hoping to make one last push for the playoffs.
While these scoring droughts are somewhat concerning, they shouldn’t be cause for serious alarm. At 21 years of age, Farabee is still very young and has plenty of room for growth. If he continues to improve at the rate he has, this sophomore season’s streakiness will be quickly forgotten.
A Significant Improvement
As a rookie in 2019-20, Farabee had a solid, albeit unspectacular season. The young winger potted eight goals and managed 21 points through 52 games in the pandemic-shortened campaign. He struggled to find his footing during the first part of the season, as many rookies do, but he seemed to hit his stride towards the end of it, putting up 9 points over his last 14 games.
While he showed flashes of his true potential, it was clear to see that he wasn’t physically ready to be an impact player. He regularly found himself outmuscled in one-on-one battles, and at times, he looked uncomfortable with the puck on his stick. Further NHL experience and an off-season of training remedied these issues, as Farabee entered the 2020-21 season with 64 NHL games (including playoffs) under his belt, and an added eight pounds of muscle.
He came out of the gate hot in his sophomore campaign, picking up four points in the Flyers’ season opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He then went pointless over the next five games but looked impressive nonetheless. Farabee capped off the opening month of the season with his first career hat trick against the New York Islanders, the team that had ousted the Flyers from the playoffs a year prior. He only built on this strong performance and by the beginning of March, he had already eclipsed his goal totals from his rookie year, taking him only 19 games to do so.
Farabee finished the season as the team’s leading goal-scorer, the second-youngest player to do so in franchise history. His 20 goals in 55 games extrapolate to approximately 30 over a full 82-game season, an impressive total to be sure. These numbers are even more impressive when you consider that 16 of the 20 goals were scored at even strength, tied for the seventh-most in the NHL.
The Player That Fans Have Been Waiting For
Flyers fans have long hoped for a skilled goal-scorer to complement the team’s plethora of playmakers. They’ve struggled to find one since Jeff Carter was traded from the team in 2011, but now it seems like they may have finally found their sniper.
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During the 2020-21 season, Farabee showcased a powerful and accurate shot and a knack for getting to the net. His newfound strength allowed him to muscle his way into high traffic areas where he was able to deflect shots from his teammates and get off shots of his own from in close. When Farabee was on one of his hot streaks, opposing teams had to take notice, because he was almost always a scoring threat when on the ice.
Not only was he fantastic at putting the puck in the back of the net himself, but he also showed off his talents as a skillful playmaker in an unconventional sense. Leading the team in rebounds created, Farabee’s most underrated talent is how he sets up others by making plays off of opposing goaltenders’ pads. He creates dangerous scoring opportunities for his linemates Sean Couturier and James van Riemsdyk who both have a nose for the net.
An incredibly talented player, Farabee still has plenty of room to grow. With an additional year of NHL experience, strong chemistry with his linemates, and an off-season of training ahead of him, we could see the young forward leave his streakiness in the past and soar to new heights next season.