After a win on national television against Boston Wednesday night, the Flyers sit at 2-0-1 to start the season. Tomorrow night, they end their four game homestand against a red-hot Florida Panthers team that looks to be a possible contender for the Eastern Conference.
The Flyers have looked pretty darn good these first three games as a collective.
Carter Hart put that strange second period from the Canucks game behind him and was solid against the Kraken. Newcomer Keith Yandle has already collected five points (5A), while Ryan Ellis has four (1G, 3A). Players like Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny have started the season with a noticeable intensity. The powerplay has looked improved from last season, the Flyers are second in the NHL with a 42.9 PP%.
However, the driving force of this team so far clearly is the play of the second line. Centered by Derick Brassard with Joel Farabee and Cam Atkinson at LW and RW respectively, they have already been dubbed the FAB line.
An appropriate name for what we have seen so far. Brassard, Farabee and Atkinson have combined for 15 points in just three games. This group consistently has been generating offensive chances for the Flyers and has been a joy to watch. Their aggressive but smart play has generated multiple odd-man rushes.
Perhaps the biggest surprise on the Flyers’ roster so far has been Derick Brassard (1G, 4A). Brassard, who played his best hockey under Alain Vigneault in New York looks to have some gas left in the tank.
Check out this beautiful pass to Ellis against the Kraken:
He has filled in more than nicely for Kevin Hayes in the 2C spot so far. Celebrating his 34th birthday this past September, he looks like he could be one of the big bargain signings of this summer’s free agency.
Atkinson could not ask for a better start wearing the orange and black, already endearing himself to the fanbase with his shoot-first approach (13 shots, 3G). A 41-goal scorer in 2018-’19, he has flashed that goal scoring prowess while also playing a good two-way game.
Another great pass from Brassard here to quickly catch the Bruins on a two-on-one, leading to a goal from Atkinson:
The backchecking and effort getting back to help in the defensive zone has not gone unnoticed. As you might recall, the man who was traded to CBJ for him had this aspect of his game critiqued at times.
Possible Breakout Season for “Philly Joel”
The other member of the FAB line leads the team in points with six (3G, 3A), and after a 20-goal season in 55 games in 2020-’21, looks to be taking that next step already in his young career.
If you were not already, it is time to get excited about Joel Farabee. The 14th overall pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, Farabee already has such a solid all-around game. The play he made in the neutral zone to lead to a Flyers goal against the Bruins was a play you might not have seen from him last season.
It is not easy to quickly anticipate passes, actions etc. in the NHL, then Farabee slips a perfect pass to Atkinson. This kind of play should scare other teams in the Metropolitan Division.
Do not get me wrong, getting Hayes back will bolster the lineup no doubt. Whether he will be inserted back in as the 2C or 3C is where it starts to get interesting. If Brassard and this line continues to rack up the points, I don’t think you can break up this trio. It just would not make sense.
Hypothetically, a third line of James van Riemsdyk – Kevin Hayes – Oskar Lindblom would basically be rolling two second lines. Not bad at all in a highly competitive Metro division, where depth is key.
It should be a great game tomorrow night, with former Flyer Sergei Bobrovsky having just recorded his 300th career win. Puck drops at 7:00 PM.
Fun fact: Bobrovsky currently has 45 wins as a Panther, only three more than his win total as a Flyer (42).
Not so fun fact: Both of Bobrovsky’s Vezina Trophies were won not as a member of the Flyers.