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Flyers’ Struggling Winger: ‘I’ve Been Pretty Bad All Year’

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Joel Farabee

Joel Farabee, who is goal-less in his last 21 games, is brutally hard on himself as he struggles through the worst time in his four-year NHL career.

The Philadelphia Flyers left winger says he feels healthy, that his offseason neck surgery shouldn’t be blamed for his poor season.

“I’ve been pretty bad all year,” he said on Wednesday. “It’s been pretty tough. I’m trying to have a short memory, trying to move on. Just do whatever it takes to help the team.”

Farabee, 23, has just nine goals in 62 games. He scored 20 in 55 games in 2020-21, then had 17 in 63 games last season.

This is a player Claude Giroux once said would surpass his scoring records.

‘Not an excuse guy’

Farabee didn’t want to use his neck surgery as an excuse, but it clearly has played a part in his disappointing season. Farabee usually trains and works out for close to four months in the summer, preparing for the season. This year, he was only able to work out for three weeks.

“I’m not an excuse guy,” said Farabee, a first-round selection (No. 14 overall) in the 2018 draft. “My play hasn’t been good enough. I’ve got to be a lot better.”

Jack Eichel, now with Vegas, was the first NHL player to have the artificial disk-replacement surgery. He had it in November of 2021. Tyler Johnson had in next, followed by Farabee in June.

Eichel, 26, has been very good since he returned, scoring 14 goals in 34 games last year. This season, he has 22 goals in 48 games.

Johnson, 32, has eight goals in 34 games this season with Chicago, and is scoring at a higher rate than recent seasons before the surgery.

Encouraging sign

First-year Philadelphia Flyers coach John Tortorella saw a glimmer of hope in Farabee’s game in Wednesday’s 3-2 overtime loss to the New York Rangers. Farabee and linemates Morgan Frost and Owen Tippett composed the team’s best unit, and were in the middle of numerous scoring chances.

Tortorella said Farabee was “more active” than in recent games. He had three shots and set up Tippett for some good looks. “Little by little, his game is coming back,” Tortorella said. “Had the puck more (Wednesday). I’d like to see him score a goal. I’m hoping that maybe helps him.”

Tortorella was referring to Farabee’s confidence level.

If the Flyers are going to reach the playoffs down the road, they need a player like Farabee to not only be “active,” but become a consistent 25-to-30 goal scorer.

The potential is there.

Breakaways

The Flyers sent forwards Elliot Desnoyers and Olle Lycksell back to the Phantoms on Thursday. … On Wednesday, Tippett logged 27:10 of ice time, the highest for a Flyers forward since 2019. He had a goal and eight shot attempts. … Scott Laughton’s 14th goal Wednesday set a career high. … The Flyers host Detroit on Sunday.

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