The Flyers were able to push their way into game 7 last night in the most chaotic of games. It would take two overtime periods to separate the two teams, but it was the orange and black who eventually came out on top in a back-and-forth game that was filled with surprises. Perhaps the most pleasant surprise of all, however, was the return of Oskar Lindblom.
In 30 games this season, Lindblom notched 11 goals and seven assists before his world was turned upside down. he young star was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma and would embark on a scary, yet remarkable journey. About seven months later, Lindblom got to ring the bell after finishing his cancer treatments at Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center.
Last night, in a situation where both Sean Couturier and Joel Farabee were down, the team turned to the Sweedish star. Oskar Lindblom would play in 17:30, recorded 3 shots, two hits, and blocked a shot. What’s stunning is that Lindblom was even more ahead of schedule than even we thought!
“We had sort of made a deal with him.” Alain Vigneault said on Friday. “Originally in the schedule, September the 6th was the start of the Conference Final in Edmonton. We sort of made the deal with him that we would get there and you get yourself ready to play in Edmonton.
The circumstances made it that we needed him before and luckily he was ready. What does that say about the young man, that after having going through what he went through. He could have easily said. ‘Listen with the way things are in the world and the COVID, I’m going to wait for next year. I’ll get ready and I’ll be 100%’. No, he comes back. He helps his teammates. Gets himself ready to play. I don’t want to say we accelerate the process here, but the 6th of September, the 3rd of September, it’s pretty close. He’s all in. He wanted to play and help his teammates. That says a tremendous amount about the young man.”
It wasn’t just Flyers players who were astonished by the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy Finalist’s resilience, heart, and determination. As Carter Hart notes, even in the midst of game 6 and having just conceded a goal, the New York Islanders made a very selfless gesture.
“I don’t think there’s anything that can describe how proud we all are of him and how much he means to this organization and to our team.” The goalie who recorded a whopping 49 saves last night explained. “A really special moment for him to come out for his first shift there and to see the support from not only our team, but the Isles all standing up and cheering him on, especially after our goal against. A lot of respect to them for that. You can ask him how he feels. I’m sure he’s pretty excited.”
Game 6 wasn’t just a tight scenario given its ‘do-or-die’ nature, but the way it panned out was emotionally exhausting. One minute the Flyers were on top, then the Isles would surge back, all the way into a 4-4 game that would leave fans on the edge of their seats throughout. Having Oskar Lindblom back on the ice with his teammates is one thing, having him put in such a strong effort, ahead of schedule, in a circumstance where the stakes couldn’t be higher, only elevated his teammates and friends.
“That was a huge boost.” Captain Claude Giroux explained. “This kid has so much courage. He played unbelievable too. He hasn’t played since I’m not even sure, but it’s been a long time. It’s been a long battle. This guy’s heart, you have to see it to believe it.”
As for Oskar himself, it was business as usual. No stranger to performing on neutral ice after his impressive goal against the Blackhawks in Prague’s season opener, it looked like Lindblom had never been away. But much like that fateful day, Oskar wasn’t wrapped up in his own performance or the significance of his actions – rather the team and how the group played.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s Game 7 or not. We played like it was Game 7 today and came out with the win. We just have to keep to the system and play the game right. Hopefully we can get a win on Saturday or whenever the next game is. We can’t start thinking about it’s a Game 7. It’s been a Game 7 for us for a long time here.
The truth is, nobody expected this. Nobody thought Oskar would return to a hockey rink this season, let alone in the bubble and in the team’s biggest moment of need. The team and fanbase are blessed to have a player as inspirational as Oskar Linblom wearing their colors.
Photo Credit: Alex Mcintyre