Bobby Farnham has only been with the Devils for a couple of months, but his high-energy play has already made him a fan favorite.
Farnham was acquired by the Devils off waivers from the Penguins on October 25. He played for current Devils Head Coach John Hynes on Pittsburgh’s AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
On Tuesday night against Carolina at the Prudential Center, he was back in the lineup after missing eight games with an upper body injury.
With the Devils down 1-0 six minutes into the second period, Farnham won the puck behind the net and backhanded a shot past Carolina goalie Cam Ward to tie it up. It was his fourth goal of the season.
Farnham said of his goal, “Lucky bounce, I guess you could say…It was great work by Jordin Tootoo and Stephen Gionta to get in on a forecheck. The whole play was a combination of the whole line, so it was nice to get the goal. I just knew there was traffic there, so I was just throwing it on net somewhere, or anywhere in the vicinity really to be honest with you, and it took a good bounce.”
After the goal, Farnham jumped into the glass to celebrate with the fans and his teammates.
This electrified the sold-out Prudential Center, which sang along to the classic song “Wild Thing,” just like they did in the classic baseball movie “Major League” for Indians pitcher Ricky Vaughn.
Wild Thing is a perfect nickname for Farnham, who looks like a classic, gritty hockey player, with his long, shaggy hair flowing out of his helmet.
On if he noticed he has his own song when he scores, Farnham said, “No way! That’s funny, I didn’t know that…I didn’t even think about it, really to be honest with you, that’s funny that they did that.”
Devils fans also have taken to Farnham because he brings to mind grinders like Randy McKay, who was as key as anybody to their Stanley Cup championship in 1995.
McKay played a very tough style, as was more typical at that time. He always going for loose pucks in the corner, looking to make contact and send a message, while also scoring some goals.
Farnham said of being a fan favorite, “Maybe just the style of play, it’s a little bit, you know, can be all over the place at times, and maybe that style of play fans like that, it’s a lot of fun playing here.”
Devils Head Coach John Hynes said of what Farnham has brought to his team, “I think if you look at the game tonight, he brings tremendous energy. He draws your team in. He’s so involved in the game with his physicality and his energy and his emotion, it draws other players in to that competitive spirit. He raises the level of ‘compete’ on the ice and he brings speed and the level of tenacity that we want to play with. It’s difficult to play against and it’s contagious.”
On if he considers himself an old-school type of hockey player, Farnham said, “I guess, not really in the fact that the old-school game I feel like was heavyweight fighters and things like that. I see myself more as the newer NHL in speed and the agitator role.”
Hynes said, “I don’t know if he’s old school or new school, it’s the same thing probably in the ’70s and ’80s to win as it is now. You need guys that play hard, they play the right way and they’re passionate about the game, and he’s like that.”
Devils center Travis Zajac said of Farnham, “He obviously brings energy, on and off the ice. He’s always brought that effort for us and he gets us going with his play. He’s a good player, he can make plays, he’s good on the forecheck, and he finishes his checks, so he’s tough to play against. He got rewarded for having a good game.”
Tuesday night was the first time Hynes put Farnham on the fourth line with Jordin Tootoo and Stephen Gionta, and they worked very well together.
Kyle Palmieri said of the trio, “I think it starts with Gio’s line. They had a great game. Bobby coming off the IR and him and (Tootoo) they were running around and hitting guys and creating energy. I don’t really remember a shift they played in our D zone. So, for your fourth line to go out and play in the offensive zone and get scoring chances – and, obviously, Bobby chipped one in for us – that’s huge.”
The Devils dominated play in the first period, as they poured in 11 shots, but could not get any by Ward, who made some incredible saves.
The Hurricanes then got the lead 2:51 into the second on a wraparound goal from Eric Staal, which took a lot of the energy out of the place. Farnham tied it with his goal 6:06 into the second.
Staal responded with another one in very similar fashion, as he came from behind the net to Devils goalie Keith Kinkaid’s left to make it 2-1 Hurricanes at the 10:14 mark, and it stayed that way into the third.
The Devils, as they have done many times this season, dominated the final period and grinded it out.
Kyle Palmieri tipped in a shot from the blue line from Jon Merrill to tie it at 2 at the 12:46 mark of the third.
there was a scary moment with 5:11 left when Keith Kinkaid appeared hurt after Carolina crashed the net. Kinkaid, who felt a muscle tighten in his left calf, said of how close he came to coming out, “Oh no, I wasn’t (coming out). I wanted to finish that one. It just cramped up a little bit.”
Soon after, Travis Zajac and David Schlemko raced into the Hurricanes’ end, with Zajac coming down the middle and dropping it off to Schlemko down the left side. Schlemko reached the corner and fired it into the crease, where it went off a Carolina defender and into the net to make it 3-2 Devils with 3:05 remaining.
Schelemko said of the goal, “I think that’s just how we drew it up. Put it in the corner and throw it off their guy. It was a lucky bounce. I’ll take it.”
Hynes said of the goal, “It looked like when (Schlemko) had it there was going to be an opportunity for a clean play, but I think it jumped over his stick. Good things happen when you do the right things. Travis drives to the net and he winds up carrying two defensemen with him.
“We talked the last few days about trying to get more shots and delivering the puck to the net. Schlemko grabs it and shoots it to the net, we had a middle lane drive, it hit the D and went in. We did the right things and got rewarded for it.”
Kinkaid made a big save on a shot from Staal with 50 seconds left, and he got his third win of the season, with 26 saves on the night.
Hynes said of Kinkaid, “It was a good game by Keith. I think he’s played some other good games for us that we haven’t really given him the right type of support in front of him and it maybe didn’t result in wins. I thought tonight he was really solid. Carolina had some strong pushes and he was a big reason why we were able to win the game.”
Schlemko said of the 3-2 win, “That’s a character win. Really, none of our goals were pretty, but you play hard all night and sometimes you get those bounces you – quote, unquote – deserve.”