The 100-foot, right-on-the-money pass Oskar Lindblom executed to start Travis Konecny on a breakaway for the Flyers’ game-winning goal on Tuesday night pretty much tells you where the young Swede’s game is.
Namely, a healthy 100 percent.
Anyone doubting Lindblom might need a while to get his game going at full throttle at the start of this season after playing only two games since December, 2019 had those fears allayed.
His strength and speed are back after a long battle with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. So are his full head of hair and disarming smile. And perhaps, most noteworthy of all, his confidence appears restored.
“I’m getting one hundred percent,’’ coach Alain Vigneault said via media Zoom call when asked about Lindblom’s contribution to the Flyers’ 3-1 record.
“. . .One hundred percent in everything he does, whether it’s forecheck, backcheck, in our zone or the right plays with the puck. The kid is all in and he’s giving us everything he has every shift. That’s what I expect from him and that’s what I expect from all his teammates.’’
Lindblom’s pass to Konecny was stunningly brilliant. The puck traveled all the way across the rink, hit Lindblom’s linemate in stride and gave just enough of a lead to let Konecny get behind the Buffalo defense.
That goal broke a scoreless tie and started the Flyers on the way to a 3-0 win.
“I saw the D-man cheating a little bit,’’ Lindblom said. “I know TK is going to take off. Just trying to put it there where he’s skating to and then he does what he’s good at, he scores.
“It was a perfect play. I just try to play a 200-foot game. It works. If I do my part in the defensive zone, I’m going to get chances on the offense. I just have to keep doing that. Hopefully, I can be better during the season here.’’
Lindblom and Konecny seem to have developed a chemistry which was evident from the season’s outset. Konecny already is situated among the NHL leaders in goals and points.
Konecny is good at distracting opponents with his tactics and that allows linemates Lindblom and Sean Couturier more room to operate.
“He’s good at getting under the skin of the opponent,’’ Lindblom said. “As long as he sticks to his game and can do that at the same time, it’s great for our team. We love to have him on our team. We just get good energy from him, so it’s perfect for us.’’
Couturier will be sidelined another 10 days or so with a rib injury but the line’s chemistry should be easy to get back together upon his return.
“We all know each other on and off the ice,’’ Lindblom said. “When we play together, we’re having fun. All of us grow into the game and try to get better every day.
“As long as we can help the team win and get better every day, that’s just going to make us better. We just have to keep going and getting better. Hopefully we can push our team to do good things here.’’
Konecny said: “He (Lindblom) is a smart player. He does the right things, so you just try to get in and support him. He’s really good with his stick. As long as he’s in there and skating hard, he turns a lot of pucks over, so you got to support him all over the ice. It’s been good to see him getting back and playing the way he’s played.’’
Captain Claude Giroux gave a positive assessment of Lindblom’s game.
“I think Oskar, every game he is just getting better,’’ Giroux said. “I think it’s pretty normal. He didn’t really play the last few months. He’s a really smart hockey player, so he’s always in a really good position. He’s fun to play with and fun to watch. We’re happy for him that he’s playing well right now.’’
>Elliott’s place in history
Brian Elliott made 40 saves during his 41st career shutout in the Tuesday night victory and that total winds up on a pretty impressive list.
The 40 stops are a new career high for Elliott in a shutout. His previous high was 37, done twice while in St. Louis.
Also, the 40 saves were the most for a Flyers goaltender in a shutout since Steve Mason had 46 saves in a 1-0 shootout loss at NYI on Nov. 24, 2014. It ties for the fifth-most saves in a shutout in Flyers history. The record is 48.