SUNRISE, Fla. – Patience is a precious commodity when it comes to young players with offensive skill at the top of their scouting report.
Take Oskar Lindblom, the Flyers’ talented wingman who seems to run hot and cold in what amounts to less than a full season of play over the past two years.
Lindblom got off to a quick start this season, with four goals in his first 15 games.
Since then? Zero in his last 20.
For some players, that skid might have bought him a ticket back to Allentown where the Phantoms play.
But the 22-year-old Swede has been doing such a good job with his overall play that it doesn’t appear Lindblom is facing a demotion.
For Saturday night’s game against the Panthers, Flyers coach Scott Gordon had Lindblom back on a fourth line with Phil Varone at center.
Lindblom showed what he could do back in early November when he registered seven points in five games during a West Coast trip.
“It’s tough,’’ Gordon said after the Saturday morning skate at the BB&T Center. “He’s supposed to be on the second power play. He usually gets about 45 seconds of time. He will get more tonight because Nolan (Patrick, upper-body injury) is out.
“His fourth-line play has been consistent. Where he is right now with the lines, you’re not going to get a lot of minutes. You just have to maximize the amount of time you’re on the ice.’’
Lindblom has played as much as 16-plus minutes in a game earlier in the season and actually has played on the second line for 17 games this season.
“It (possibly getting back to a top line) will come with time,’’ Gordon said. “I’m not concerned about him. It’s not like he’s had poor play or anything like that.
“You would like to see him get more opportunity, more minutes, build a little confidence offensively. But I’m happy with the structure of the lines right now so we will keep it as is.’’
Lindblom appears to be content to just keep his head down, work hard and see how it all plays out.
He only had two goals in 23 games last season so he’s actually a bit ahead of that pace this year.
“It’s tough, I haven’t been through something like this in my lifetime,’’ he explained. “I just try to go out each shift and kind of do my thing.
“We’re winning games, too (3-1-1 under Gordon), too, so I can’t say much about it. Just keep battling and be good at practice.’’
Playing on special teams helps his confidence.
“I feel like they trust me to play the PK,’’ he said, “and hopefully I get more ice time.’’
Lindblom was an American Hockey League All-Star while playing for Gordon in Allentown, so that connection should help establish a good relationship.
“We talked a lot last year and he helped me a lot,’’ Lindblom said. “Helped me be a better person, a better player. Good coach. When he got called up, I think he’s done a good job, helping the team.
“I like coaches (who tell you) you can’t take a day off.’’
Lindblom understands the Flyers’ philosophy that you don’t want young players sitting on the bench. If Lindblom can’t stay consistently in the 11-15-minute range, there’s no point in being here.
“You want to play as much as you can but at this stage of the season, I don’t feel I’ve played my best,’’ he said. “But I feel like I’m coming back, if I get more minutes, I can show how good I can be.
“I have to (earn playing time). I’m still young. I still have a lot of time left in this league, hopefully. I just have to show up every day and be good.’’
In a bit of a surprise development, Patrick skated with the team on Saturday morning and it appears the timeframe for his return has been reduced. In fact, there might be a chance he could play in either Monday night’s game at Carolina or Tuesday night’s at Nashville.