The Flyers’ locker room was nearly empty. After clinging on to a 4-3 win over Chicago, the team was met with a frantic media huddle as reporters scrambled to talk to the stars of the night. But when the dust settled and reporters rushed back to their desks, one man walked out of the Flyers training room.
He wasn’t sweaty, wasn’t in his game gear, no teamwear in sight. In fact, had you seen his Maroon suit partnered with a slicked-back haircut anywhere else, you’d assume he’s en-route to a very expensive night at a Casino. But he wasn’t. Instead, he was ready to head home and get to work in preparation for a clash with the Devils.
“Does the Suit reflect your mood right now?” I asked.
Oskar Lindblom laughed and looked up with the most humble look of gratitude imaginable and playfully said “a little bit'”. But then the smile vanished.
“It’s just the first game. But still, it feels better to win this one and go home to Philly, but we still have to work on small details in our games.” Not even acknowledging his own goal, Lindblom’s mind was already looking forward, not behind. But that’s become par for the course.
At one point last year, the Swede was buried on the team’s fourth line, trying to make the most of any minutes that trickled his way. But then came a midseason surge.
In the month of December last year, Lindblom averaged what was a measly 8:54 of total ice time per game. In the month of January, that number spiked to 14:14. Lindblom ended last year with 33 total points, but went through a stretch of 23 games where he poured in 19.
Now, in a system that feeds off of the word ‘rotation, Lindblom is showing very early signs of thriving. He punched in his first goal of the season in the team’s first regular-season game of 2019 in front of over 17,000 fans who filled Prague’s 02 Arena. 6:28 into the second period, Lindblom was in the heart of a whirlwind, but he recalled it as if it happened in slow motion.
“I got a great pass from TK and I was trying to get it off quick. At first I thought it went in, but it came out and hit their d-man and then went back in. I saw it all the way. It’s a great way to start the season.”
Lindblom played 16 minutes in today’s win, 5th most of the 9 forwards. It’s safe to say his development has shown no signs of slowing down and it’s hard for Oskar to mentally as well.
“I’ll enjoy tonight a little bit. But then tomorrow it’s back to real life again and a focus on the next game. You can’t stay in this mode for too long.”
For a 23-year old who’s just scored in a season opener in Prague, his level-headedness is astounding. So naturally, if there’s a focus on the future, that means there’s something to focus on…and Lindblom, despite coming off the ice less than 20 minutes before talking to me, already has something in mind.
“It’s hard. Sometimes when you get in the offensive zone you get so much pressure from d-men these days. They pinch down, hard. I have to be stronger on the puck, but everyone has things to work on.”
His focus is unrelenting and his play on the ice only matches it. After breaking out from the depths of Gordon’s rotation last year, Lindblom wants to make sure he doesn’t fade back into the shadows.
I don’t think he will anytime soon.
Mandatory Photo Credit: AP Photo/Derik Hamilton
Liam is a 24-year old sports journalist from the UK and founder of the Philly Sports Network. In just five years he turned a hobby into one of the fastest-growing Philadelphia sports sites in the world, amassing 7,000,000 views and writing over 3,000 articles. Drawing attention from the likes of CSN, NJ.Com and Bleacher Report in the process, Liam is set on changing the way Philadelphia sports teams are reported on forever.
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