Flyers’ Lindblom arrives in Toronto with smiles all around

Oskar Lindblom (center, with hat) is joined by some of his friends (nurses) at Pennsylvania Hospital.

It’s impossible to state how much of an inspiration it is for the Flyers to have Oskar Lindblom finally back with them in Toronto.

Lindblom just returned via a flight from Sweden and will have to remain in quarantine for a few more days of his original eight-day isolation.

But already the team is welcoming him back, figuratively, with open arms.

They know this is all part of a potential miracle comeback should Lindblom, who is recovering from Ewing’s sarcoma (a rare form of bone cancer), ever gets into a playoff game.

Just mention his name and Flyers players break out in smiles.

During an interview on a Philadelphia radio station on Tuesday morning, general manager Chuck Fletcher confirmed the 23-year-old Lindblom has arrived in the “bubble.’’

“Oskar’s a great kid,’’ Matt Niskanen said. “He’s been through a lot. I don’t think he’s stopped smiling this whole time. The guys love having him here.

“First and foremost, we’re happy that he’s healthy and on his way back. As soon as he can come out of his room (at the hotel), we’ll welcome him with open arms. It’s going to be great to see him.’’

Sean Couturier feels the same way.

“I think it (Lindblom’s return) is going to bring us some positive energy,’’ Couturier said. “Everyone is happy to see him doing well. We’re just happy to soon have him back with us in practicing and hopefully play soon.

“We’re not quite sure what the plan is yet. But just to have him around is nice.’’

Coach Alain Vigneault has already said he will have no hesitation about playing Lindblom should he be ready at some point.

“He’s close to having gone through the quarantine,’’ Vigneault said. “And the testing he has to go through in order to come back to the group and skate with the group.

“There’s no doubt we’re real happy. Everyone of us can’t wait to see him, can’t wait to see him on the ice with the team. That’s going to be a big positive for our group.’’

>Gostisbehere a possibility

Shayne Gostisbehere returned to action with a strong game against Tampa Bay in the round robin finale, which leaves Vigneault with a tough decision. Will he play Gostisbehere or Robert Hagg against the Canadiens?

“I’ve decided who I’m going to play but I’m not willing to share that at this moment,’’ Vigneault said. “But there’s no doubt that Shayne did play his best game (against the Lightning).

“You can see right now he’s healthy (after two knee surgeries earlier in 2020). He feels good about himself. He feels energized. If we need him during this series, there’s no doubt he will be ready for it.’’

>Simple is smarter

Vigneault has been preaching smart hockey since he got here and that includes not overthinking the game.

Expect the Flyers to continue that trend in the postseason.

“There’s only one way to play this game and that’s the right way,’’ he said. “The right way is you have to have room – space-time to make a play. If you don’t, you have to get pucks behind (them).

“When it’s time to defend, you have to be in the right position. Have your stick in the right position, have numbers. Our guys understand the right way of playing and now it’s up to us to go out on the ice and show it.’’

>Last change helps

The Flyers have the “home-ice advantage’’ for four of the seven games (if the series goes that far). That means the last line change, which gives Philadelphia an edge in line matchups.

Is that an advantage in a playoff series because you’re seeing the same opponent night after night and you can figure out what works best?

“We have pretty good depth,’’ Niskanen said. “A couple lines and a couple d-pairs can play against anybody but there might a matchup that benefits your team here or there. So if you can control that, why not?’’

>Hart about to turn 22

It’s still hard to comprehend the idea that Carter Hart is still only 21. That will change on Thursday when he celebrates his 22nd birthday.

What’s been the biggest part of the maturity process?

“I’ve been in the NHL for a year and a half,’’ he said. “My first half year I learned a lot from guys on my team, what they do on a daily basis.

“I think the biggest thing I took away my first half-year was just taking care of your body. How short a time you have between games. It can be a quick turnaround most nights. I think the biggest thing is you have to take care of your body.’’

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About Wayne Fish 2437 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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