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Flyers Grades: Tippett, Farabee dominate; Zamula breaks out?

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Egor Zamula is brimming with confidence after his latest goal for the Philadelphia Flyers. (Photo: AP)

The Philadelphia Flyers scored three goals in 2:06 in the second period to defeat the Vancouver Canucks, 4-1 at the Rogers Arena on Thursday night. Their first game back from the recent holiday break ended up being another one of those ‘vintage’ Flyers wins we’ve come to see from this team against top-tier opponents this season.

As for the Canucks? Well, they’ve finished their season series against the Flyers with an 0-2-0 record, with one total goal in those two losses. In addition, Vancouver saw their nine-game point streak unceremoniously snapped in front of their home crowd. Sam Ersson held down the fort, stopping 18 shots before exiting early in the third period due to dehydration. Carter Hart stopped all eight shots he faced in relief of Ersson, and Garnet Hathaway put the exclamation point on the win with a shorthanded goal five minutes into the third.

So, what worked for the Flyers, and who played well? Let’s discuss.

Flyers Special Teams: A+

If you believe in Christmas miracles, the Flyers finally scored a power play goal. And who else but Egor Zamula? A guy who has had to fight Marc Staal for a place in the lineup got a chance to quarterback the power play, and was rewarded for his dedication with a goal. Joel Farabee assumed his usual position in front of the cage, and Casey DeSmith was left with no chance on Zamula’s well-placed wrister from the point.

On the flip side, the Canucks went 0-for-3 with the man advantage as the Flyers’ penalty kill returned to their staunch ways. They had slipped a little bit heading into the holiday break, but it meant nothing on Thursday night. After a Cam Atkinson roughing penalty, Ryan Poehling recovered a loose puck along the boards directly after the faceoff, burned Quinn Hughes down the right wing, pumped the brakes, and then threaded the needle to a streaking Garnet Hathaway. DeSmith got all of Hathaway’s initial shot, but Hathaway was careful to bury the rebound into a yawning cage, after which he emphatically celebrated with his arms in the air and yelling to the sky.

Joel Farabee: B

It was an uneven performance for Joel Farabee, though the good ultimately greatly outweighed the bad. Farabee set the screen for Zamula to open the scoring, but also took two lousy penalties in the first and second periods. Fortunately, the Canucks scored on neither opportunity, and Farabee lived to see another day. The 24-year-old would then go on to score the Flyers’ third goal of that three-goals-in-two-minutes flurry in the second period.

In all alone on DeSmith, Farabee pulled off a pretty move to yank the veteran netminder out of position before neatly tucking the puck at the near post for the finishing touch. With his two-point effort, Farabee now has two consecutive games with two points. He’s up to 12 goals, 12 assists, and 24 points in 35 games this season, and seems poised to have his second career 20-goal season.

Owen Tippett: A

We’re starting to see why Owen Tippett was promoted to the Flyers’ top line, and why Tippett was drafted 10th overall in 2017. Tippett was all over the ice on Thursday night, and every time the puck was on his stick, you had the feeling Philadelphia was going to come up with a scoring chance. It was that kind of night, and Tippett has had quite a few of those lately.

On this occasion, Tippett made a gorgeous backhand pass from his knees to Sean Walker, who received the biscuit and rifled it off the post and past DeSmith for a 2-0 lead. Once the Flyers had that goal, it felt as though they were in the driver’s seat, despite the up-and-down period. It was all hustle from Tippett, who made the effort to put the puck in a dangerous area. It’s simple plays like this that will earn the approval of head coach John Tortorella, and this only reinforced Tortorella’s decision to give the promotion.

Egor Zamula: B+

Are we finally witnessing the breakout of Egor Zamula? After a well-deserved power play goal on Thursday night, ‘Z’ is gaining confidence, if nothing else. A player who isn’t even a lineup lock when healthy, Zamula has made the most of his recent run of games at the expense of veteran Marc Staal. Tortorella decided to give him a look on the power play, and it paid off right away.

Zamula has still been shaky at times, and still looks like he second-guesses his positioning and decision-making. That’s fine, because that’s why he’s playing as much as he is. That’s also why he rotates out for Staal. If it’s a confidence thing, the Flyers are on the road to building it. Zamula picked up his play a lot after his goal, and maybe that isn’t a coincidence.

However, as it goes with young players, it’s all about consistency. Do it again. Zamula and the Flyers will get their chance to do just that against the Seattle Kraken on Friday night, with a 10 p.m. puck drop at Climate Pledge Arena.

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