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The Two O’Clock Number: 302

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Maybe he should have never been on the fourth line.

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at New York Rangers Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this season, the Philadelphia Flyers finished a critical road trip with a 5-2 win in Arizona over the Coyotes on November 5th. Oskar Lindblom iced that game with an empty-net tally for his fourth goal of the season. The Swedish forward endured a 30-game goal drought before he tallied his fifth goal of 2018-19 in a win over the Boston Bruins on January 16th. Lindblom’s eight goals in the 17 games since he snapped his goal drought brings us to today’s number.

302 - The number of seconds in 5:02, the increase in Lindblom’s average ice time since he snapped his goal drought.

Keeping in mind breaks would eventually have to start going his way and the pressure of snapping his goal drought had been relieved, it isn’t too surprising we’ve seen Lindblom flood the back of the net with pucks over the last month or so. However, there is a little more to this stretch from the 2014 draft pick than luck and lack of pressure. Let’s take a look at his numbers during the 30-game goal drought and the 17 games since he started scoring again.

Lindblom during and after 30-game goal drought

Stat 30-game goal drought 17 games since
Stat 30-game goal drought 17 games since
Goals 0 8
Assists 4 5
Points 4 13
5-on-5 goals 0 6
Shots 44 51
5-on-5 shots 35 43
5-on-5 shots/60 7.47 11.91
5-on-5 shot attempts 52 63
5-on-5 shot attempts/60 11.1 17.44
5-on-5 scoring chances 36 37
5-on-5 points/60 0.85 2.77
Shooting percentage 0 15.7
Average time on ice 10:49 15:51

The first stat that jumps out is his average time on ice. Earlier in the season, Lindblom was put with Nolan Patrick and Jakub Voracek to form a line that played a major role in the Orange and Black grabbing seven of an eight possible points in the aforementioned road trip back in late October and early November. The trio played six more games alongside one another before then head coach Dave Hakstol decided to promote Dale Weise to the top six with Patrick and Voracek while demoting Lindblom to the fourth line with Scott Laughton and Tyrell Goulbourne (this is a real thing that happened, in public, and we let it all happen) for Philly’s Black Friday win against the New York Rangers. In the 21 games he played from that matinee game until the loss to the Capitals in Washington on January 8th to finish an eight-game losing streak, Lindblom averaged 9:37 of ice time. He finished with under eight minutes of ice time in six of those games. Following the loss to the Caps, interim head coach Scott Gordon moved Lindblom back into the top six on a line with Voracek and Sean Couturier. He ended up scoring three games later and his ice time has been fine ever since.

The bump in his other stats can be linked back to more ice time. In nearly half as many games, Lindblom has surpassed the overall totals he provided during the 30-game goal drought (which...is due to more ice time) and the rate at which he’s generating shots and shot attempts has noticeably increased (might be easier to get into a rhythm playing alongside Couturier and Voracek than limited ice time on the fourth line).

Hakstol gave us many decisions to question and not understand, but relegating Lindblom to the fourth line (or even scratching him) is perhaps one of his more indefensible calls. He hasn’t been perfect in his time as an interim head coach, but at least Gordon corrected this wrong.