My wife's grandfather is a fan of the old television sitcom, F Troop, which originally aired in the mid-1960s on ABC and later revived in syndication. The show was set in the Old West at the fictitious Fort Courage. The show centered around the adventures and misadventures of various soldiers and officers stationed at the fort (the F Troop) . 

The 2023-24 Philadelphia Flyers have a sort of alliterative F Troop of their own: forwards Joel Farabee, Morgan Frost and Tyson Foerster. All three were first-round Draft picks by the organization (Frost in 2017, Farabee in 2018, Foerster in 2020). All three spent time in the American Hockey League with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Now, in 2023-24, all three are mainstays on the NHL teams as they battle to stake down an automatic playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division. 

Last season, after a slow start, Frost led the Flyers in scoring over the latter two-thirds of the 2022-23 campaign. However, with the team posting just a "hockey .500" record through the All-Star break and then free falling in February, the team's games down the stretch were largely devoid of pressure or meaning beyond playing for pride and/or future roster spots. 

This season, in the first campaign of a new two-year contract, Frost was scratched from the Flyers' lineup 11 times between Oct. 17 (the home opener) and January 4. On Jan. 5, Frost requested and received a face-to-face meeting with head coach John Tortorella in order to advocate for himself and also to make sure the two sides got on the same page about exact expectations. 

Ever since then, Frost has led the Flyers in scoring once again. Over the team's last 32 games, Frost has posted a club-high 27 points (7g, 20a). More importantly, as the pressure and standings implications of each game has ratched up during the stretch drive, Frost has played some of his best hockey. 

Tying his previous career high, Frost will carry a five-game point streak (3g, 4a) into Saturday's home game against Boston. 

Farabee, who had neck surgery during the 2022 off season, did not miss a single game last season. However, he did not really get untracked until the latter stages of the 2022-23 campaign.

This season, Farabee was one of the Flyers' most consistent performers on a game-in and game-out basis until the All-Star break (17 goals, 23 assists, 40 points through 50 games). After the break, he hit a rough spell for roughly six weeks (1g, 5 points, minus-six over a 15-game stretch). 

Farabee kept plugging. The chances were still there but pucks stopped going in for awhile. The player dedicated himself to being sure to get himself more regularly again to the high-reward, high-punishment areas at netfront and the low slot.

As the stretch drive has moved along, Farabee has returned to form. Most recently, Farabee had a two-goal game in Boston on a netfront deflection and a wraparound goal that went in off goaltender Jeremy Swayman. Farabee has tallied four goals overall in the 10 games the Flyers have played to date in March. In Thursday's 3-2 overtime loss in Carolina, Farabee made a subtle touch pass in the neutral zone to spring Scott Laughton for a breakaway goal.

Overall for the 2023-24 season, Farabee has posted 21 goals, 28 assists and 49 points. He's achieved the 20-goal milestone for the second time in his still-young career and has already established a new career high for points in a season.

Foerster, meanwhile, has three goals in his last 10 games, including a two-goal game (most memorably featuring a penalty shot conversion). He will enter Saturday's game tied for third among NHL rookies in goal-scoring (17, four behind Chicago's Connor Bedard) and tied for eighth in overall points (29).

Even during stretches when pucks have not been going in the net for Foerster, he's played a very sound two-way brand of hockey: effective on the forecheck, strong on the boards, and diligent on the back check. 

Foerster has compiled eight goals in 16 games since the All-Star break. As with many goal-scorers who tally many of their goals from the flank, Foerster tends to score in bunches when he gets hot. Recently, in a home loss to Toronto, Foerster notched his first career shorthanded goal.

In the future, the Flyers envision Foerster developing into an all-situations forward.

Tippett on a Tear

Two goals away from matching his full season career-high (27) set last year and five tallies from his first 30-goal season, Owen Tippett has hit a hot streak down the stretch drive. He'll take a career-best five-game point streak (3g, 5a, 8 points, plus-seven) into Saturday's match against Boston.

On Thursday in Raleigh, Tippett started the sequence that resulted in Travis Konecny scoring the game-tying goal in the third period. Early in the first period, a would-be goal by Tippett created by Frost was taken off the board on a coach's challenge by Carolina head coach Rod Brind'Amour. Replays showed that Konecny went offside before Frost entered the attack zone.

As with Frost last season, Tippett did the bulk of his scoring against non-playoff teams. He had four goals against Columbus, four against Montreal, three (a hat trick game) against Buffalo, one goal (and three points) against Arizona, one against Washington, one goal (two points) against San Jose, one goal (two points) against St. Louis, one goal (two points) against Chicago, and one against Ottawa. He also had two empty net goals.

This season, it cannot fairly be said either of Tippett or Frost that they "only score against bottom clubs". Frost, among his 38 points in 59 games, has 21 points against opponents in playoff position and 17 against clubs currently out of playoff position. Tippett, meanwhile, has done just as much damage to playoff-caliber opponents as non-playoff teams among his 25 goals and 46 points in 66 games.

Breaking down Tippett's points distribution this season against playoff clubs. Listed alphabetically: three points (3a) against Boston,  three points (2g, 1a) against Carolina, three points (1g, 2a) against Colorado, two points (2g) against Dallas, two points (2a) against Edmonton, two points (1g, 1a) against Los Angeles,one point (1a) against Nashville, four points (2g. 2a) against Toronto, one point (1a) against Vancouver, three points (1g. 2a) against Vegas,and one point (1a) against Winnipeg. 

Also notable: While Washington is currently situated below the Eastern Conference playoff cutoff, they are the Flyers' closest pursuer for third place in the Metro and Detroit's nearest competitor for the final wildcard playoff spot in the East: four points behind Philly and three points behind the Red Wings. In head-to-head games with the Capitals this season, Tippett has three points (2g, 1a) in two games played.

Phantoms Strengthen Their Playoff Grip

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms earned two vital points in a head-to-head clash with the Springfield Thunderbirds on Wednesday as Ian Laperriere's club prevailed, 3-1. The Phantoms trailed entering the third period, 1-0, but stepped up for three unanswered goals to earn the win.

Adam Brooks (PPG. 7th), Evan Polei (2nd) and Tanner Laczynski (ENG, 13th) tallied for the Phantoms in the third period push. Laczynski also had the primary assist on Brooks' game-tying goal. Samu Tuomaala (PP), Elliot Desnoyers, Brendan Furry (EN), and Jacob Gaucher (EN) chipped in an assist apiece.

Cal Petersen, whose play has picked up considerably of late since being sent back down by the Flyers, turned in a strong performance in backstopping the Phantoms to a key victory. Petersen stopped 23 of 24 shots on Wednesday, allowing only a second period power play goal by veteran Adam Gaudette (37th goal of the season). Colten Ellis (22 saves on 24 shots) took the loss in net for Springfield. The Phantoms were 1-for-2 on the power play and 3-for-4 on the PK.

With the win, the Phantoms (27-24-8) moved three points ahead of Springfield (27-28-5) for the final Calder Cup playoff spot in the Atlantic Division. The Phantoms have 13 games remaining on their regular season schedule while the Thunderbirds have 12.

Next up for the Phantoms: Home games on Saturday against the Bridgeport Islanders (20-33-7) and Sunday against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (31-20-9).

Meet Joe Watson on Saturday

On Saturday, when the Flyers take on the Boston Bruins at the Wells Fargo Center, Flyers Hall of Fame defenseman Joe Watson will be on the lower level concourse near section 117 to autograph copies of his new autobiography, "Thundermouth: Memoirs of a Broad Street Bully and NHL Lifer."  

Feel free to stop over before the game or between periods. Don't be shy to talk Flyers hockey -- either "back in the day" or about the current team -- with Joe, as he remains a diehard fan at age 80. Plain and simple, Joe has bled orange and black from playing in the first game in Flyers history, winning two Stanley Cups as an alternate captain with the team, serving the organization in other capacities from 1979 until his retirement in 2021, and following the current team on a daily basis.

A caveat: Joe's handshake grip is as powerful as ever. Be prepared!