While some more than other Flyers needed a break from game action, it’s safe to say Oskar Lindblom could be found somewhere near the top of the list.
Confirming this, coach Alain Vigneault sat Lindblom for Wednesday night’s (forgettable) game at Buffalo, essentially giving him 72 hours without the strain of game action.
The Flyers had Thursday off, then held a full practice on Friday. So Lindblom, along with Nolan Patrick (who also sat out Wednesday’s game), should have plenty of energy when the Flyers visit the New York Islanders on Saturday night.
Philadelphia’s analytics people keep track of each player’s workload and for the month of March – in which most of the Flyers played a whopping 17 games in 31 days – virtually every player was “in the red.’’
For players such as Lindblom and Patrick, both coming off significant medical issues, the challenge has been even greater.
Lindblom said getting the extra time off helped as much with a mental reset as a physical one.
“I think it’s mostly mentally, to get off the ice, relax and recover, that’s important,’’ he said during a media Zoom call from the Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J. “That’s a part of what I’ve been working on the whole season.
“I take every day I can and recover the best I can.’’
Lindblom waged a seven-month battle with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. Chemo treatments took their toll but just late last month he received a clean bill of health from doctors and, of course, the hope is that he will be cancer-free for the rest of his life.
No doubt this entire season has been a demanding test for the young Swede.
“It goes up and down,’’ he said. “You can feel great one day and another day you feel like you haven’t played hockey for awhile.
“You just have to battle through and be strong mentally, do your work and hopefully you feel good. That’s all I can do, try to recover as well as I can and be on top of the game.’’
It should be noted Lindblom was leading the Flyers in goals with 11 when his career came to an abrupt halt in mid-December, 2019.
He was a consistent player back then so the up-and-down nature of this season has to be a bit frustrating.
“I have to deal with it,’’ he said. “Every guy on our team wants to be good every game. When you’re not, it’s frustrating. At the same time you have to keep grinding. Hopefully it clicks one day.
“I got a couple days (off). Hopefully I can get back on track right away and play well the rest of the season. We need everyone on top of their game for the next 20 games or so that we have left here.’’
In 30 games, the 24-year-old Lindblom has five goals/10 points with a minus-9 (which is slightly misleading because the team is a collective minus-22).
>Tracking the amount of playing time
Vigneault said the Flyers, like most NHL teams, have been closely monitoring workloads, which led, in part, to sitting Lindblom and Patrick.
This compressed 56-game schedule was made worse by the postponement of four Flyers games due to the pandemic.
“(It’s) the sports science telling us, depending on our schedule, where we are as far as ‘load management’. . .they tell us when we’re in red, we’re more susceptible to injuries,’’ Vigneault said. “Fatigue is going to show on the ice, etc.
“Everybody in our league this year has been in red, 90 percent of the time. We were in red the whole month of March. It’s something I’ve never seen before. And it’s going to come up again. It’s impossible to control the loads, especially what two players like Oskar and ‘Patty’ have gone through.’’
>Can a good practice repeat itself?
Last week the Flyers looked awful in an 8-3 blowout loss to the Rangers on Thursday night, held a productive practice on Friday and came back with a tight-checking 2-1 win on Saturday vs. New York.
This week, the Flyers were blasted on Wednesday night at Buffalo in a 6-1 loss. Now they’re hoping Friday’s practice has a similar effect.
At least having two days away from game action should provide a bit of a breather.
“In this season it’s been tough, there haven’t been that many practices,’’ Joel Farabee pointed out. “This two-day gap was nice, I thought we had a really good practice today, we were pretty sharp.
“We have some big games coming up so we need to bring a good effort.’’
>Big five games on tap
Over the next five games, the Flyers have two with the Islanders and three with Boston, the team they’re vying with (along with the Rangers) for the final playoff spot.
The Flyers need to exact some revenge from the Bruins, a team they’re winless (0-3-2) against this season.
“I think we have 21 games remaining so we have to turn it on now,’’ Farabee said. “These are big points. We’re trying to chase down Boston. Hopefully we can be good on the road.’’
>Hart to get start
Vigneault announced Carter Hart will start in goal for the game on Long Island.
Hart (8-9-3, 4.04 goals-against average) sat out both games in Buffalo while he worked on his game with goaltending instructor Kim Dillabaugh.
>Laczynski on the radar
Tanner Laczynski, one of the Flyers’ promising prospects, recently was promoted to the team’s taxi squad, raising speculation he might be seeing some NHL action one of these days.
The 23-year-old center out of Ohio State, was a sixth-round draft pick in 2016 and has performed well for the Phantoms this year: In 14 games, six goals/10 points, plus-6.
“According to (GM) Chuck (Fletcher) and (Phantoms coach) Scotty (Gordon), we have a very smart player who can play a two-hundred foot game,’’ Vigneault said. “Can play the wing or center.’’
Vigneault said he would consult with his staff before making a decision on his lineup, which could include Laczynski, an Illinois native.
This team can’t be this bad! Everyone from the Gm & the coaching staff and players has to get there heads out of the sand and start making a difference!