This week’s hot and cold streaks will require a disclaimer right off the bat: they’re not really streaks. After all, the Flyers played only one game, beginning their 2021-22 campaign on Friday against the Vancouver Canucks. Everything to follow will merely be a reflection of that contest. Nevertheless, even in the span of a single game, there are some players that delivered performances worthy of recognition. And, conversely, there are some that did not quite live up to expectations. Each week, we’ll take a look at players on the Philadelphia Flyers who are on hot or cold streaks. This week, we’ll examine Joel Farabee and the Flyers shootout. (No, the latter is not a player, but it’s worthy of some scrutiny all the same.)
Flyers Hot and Cold Streaks, Including Joel Farabee
Hot Streak: Joel Farabee
Farabee’s breakout season in 2020-21 set high expectations for his performance this year. And right off the bat, he delivered, recording the first of four goals for the Flyers and a primary assist on Cam Atkinson’s tally. Admittedly, the goal did take a lucky bounce off Canucks defenceman Tucker Poolman, but the shot itself was smart. Had it not trickled past Thatcher Demko, Farabee’s one-timer would’ve at least set up a rebound opportunity for Atkinson.
The assist, too, demonstrated good awareness from Farabee. He registered Atkinson speeding in, settled a bouncy chip from Brassard, and executed a quick pass right to where he knew Atkinson would be. It remains to be seen how Farabee will fare through the rest of the season. But for now, he’s off to a very strong start.
Honorable Mention: Cam Atkinson
There were many Flyers who just barely missed out on being this week’s hot streak. Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny deserve much credit for their clutch goals to take the game to overtime. Sean Couturier assisted on both. But it’s got to be the other second-line winger who gets the honorable mention.
The Flyers traded for Cam Atkinson hoping that he’d be a reliable goal-scorer—and that’s exactly what he did. During a second period in which not much was going well, Atkinson’s first goal as Flyer gave the team a spark of hope and helped cut down on the Canucks’ lead. He was fast but also physical when necessary, landing three hits during the game. Overall, it was an auspicious start to Atkinson’s career in Philly.
Cold Streak: The Shootout
Okay, the shootout is not a player. But it seems unfair to designate a single person as having been on a cold streak this week. For one, it would be hasty to declare anyone “cold” after a single game. And realistically, the first shootout of the season was a whole lot worse than even the worst player during regulation.
It’s important to note that the Flyers have actually been on a cold streak for a while with regards to the shootout. Last season, the Flyers won less than half of the seven games decided by shootouts. During the preseason, the team showed few signs of having resolved that issue. (Notably, they lost a nine-round shootout to the Washington Capitals, despite seven saves from Martin Jones and a goal from Morgan Frost.)
The Flyers’ recent history of shootout losses ultimately culminated in Friday night’s breakdown. Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux, two of the team’s most reliable shooters, took similar approaches, entering fast and trying to deke around Demko. Neither was able to score. In addition, Carter Hart didn’t look too sharp. Despite his excellent performance in the third period and overtime, the Canucks found the back of the net twice in succession. Perhaps their shooters’ slower approaches caused Hart to overthink? Regardless of the reason for the Canucks’ success, the fact remains that Vancouver’s strategy worked—whereas the Flyers may need to rethink theirs.