Player Focus: Oskar Lindblom makes up for early falter with a strong game overall

<em>Video breakdown of Lindblom’s performance in the Flyers’ overtime victory over the Bruins.</em>

The Flyers came into Boston and left with two points, something they’ve struggled to do over years, and extended their winning streak to six games. One of their key contributors on the night, Oskar Lindblom, left the game with a score and venue-adjusted Corsi for percent of 55.68% (+6.56% rel) at 5-on-5, and scored the game-tying goal to force overtime. An objectively good game. But, his night didn’t start out that way, no, not at all.

One of the earliest changes to player usage under Scott Gordon came in the form of Lindblom being introduced to the the Flyers’ penalty kill rotation. And although the Bruins only had one power play opportunity in the game, Lindblom was a big factor in what went both right, and wrong, on the Flyers’ lone penalty kill.

Following a defensive zone faceoff, Torey Krug is tasked with carrying the puck out of the zone and getting it through the Flyers’ retreating 1-2-1. The weak spot in a 1-2-1 tends to be whichever side the team deploying the formation has a forward defending the blue line, and in this case the Bruins decide to attack at that exact entry point, which is being defended by Lindblom. Krug attempts to make the entry pass to David Pastrnak but Lindblom is able to read the play, get a stick on the puck, and clear it the length of the ice. On the following entry attempt the Bruins attack Andrew MacDonald’s side of the ice and are able to gain the zone.

And that, of course, leads us to the sequence that eventually results in the Bruins’ first goal of the game.

Not only does Lindblom fail to disrupt the royal road pass once, but twice. After being unable to stop Patrice Bergeron‘s pass six seconds into the video, he’s bailed out by Pastrnak missing the net. However, just 13 seconds later the Bruins attempt a similar play, this time the puck being delivered by Krug, and Pastrnak is able to capitalize and put the Bruins on the board. MacDonald shares some of the blame on Krug’s pass getting through, but Lindblom, who’s job is to defend the slot in this situation, is at fault on both passing plays. Now Bergeron and Krug deserve credit for getting their passes through as well, but there’s no way around it, it’s a bad look on Lindblom’s part to be burned on almost the same passing play twice in under 15 seconds. One rough shift wouldn’t derail Lindblom’s game though, as Scott Gordon showed trust in his rookie winger and had him back on the ice just three minutes following the Bruins’ tally.

For the majority of the first period the Flyers were in survival mode, unable to do much at all with the puck, but as the game moved on they began to get their scoring chances. And their first of the second frame was courtesy of Lindblom.

It’s a bit of a lucky bounce that leads to Lindblom getting the chance to take this shot with the puck bouncing just over the stick of Charlie McAvoy, but Lindblom is able to beat everyone into zone, retrieve the puck, and aim five-hole on Tuukka Rask. There’s not much flash to this shot, but he used the ice he had to work with well and forced Rask to make one of his tougher saves through the early portion of the game.

He did however have a hand in a flashier play on his very next shift, setting Sean Couturier up for a one-timer off the rush.

As Travis Konecny gains entry to the offensive zone, Lindblom starts to glide as he readies himself to recieve a pass. Then Konecny’s skill is put on display as he gets air under his pass as the puck evades the waving stick of Sean Kuraly and lands right on Lindblom’s tape. But the puck wouldn’t stay there long as Lindblom immediately makes a touch pass towards an open area of the ice where he knows Couturier can get to, while he himself cuts towards the middle of the ice, effectively using his body to block Brandon Carlo from even having a chance at closing in on the play. Kuraly defends it well, and may have gotten a piece of Couturier’s shot in the end, but it was a dangerous chance that Lindblom and Konecny were able to set up.

Had he attempted to take the shot himself, Carlo likely would’ve blocked the shot, and the Flyers could have lost possession entirely. It looks like such a simple play to make, but going with a soft touch pass was a brilliant decision in the moment.

Lindblom would go on to string together a third straight shift worth mentioning, as he’s able to get the Flyers out of trouble in their own end just under three minutes later.

As the puck gets chipped into the zone, David Backes is able to get in the way of MacDonald’s clearing attempt and keep the Bruins in the Flyers’ zone. Danton Heinen then corrals the loose puck and looks to make a pass to the on-rushing forward, Kuraly. Lindblom applies pressure and gets his stick on the puck to block the pass attempt and initiates a battle along the boards. With a bit of help from Kuraly, it looks as if Heinen has won possession and the Bruins can begin their offensive zone cycle, but instead Lindblom is able to get his stick under Heinen’s and take the puck away. In one swift motion he’s then able to make an exit pass to Couturier and send the Flyers down to the opposite end of the ice.

Of course, his biggest moment of the game came with 9:24 remaining in the third period when he picked up his seventh goal of the season.

It all starts with Lindblom retrieving Jakub Voracek’s dump-in and returning the puck to him be passing it around the net and up the boards. He’s then able to get himself lost in coverage a bit, and Voracek hits him with pass at the perfect speed for a chip shot. Lindblom’s shot then hits Kevan Miller, deflects down, and goes through Rask’s five hole.

In recent weeks Lindblom’s been moved up the lineup, and more performances from him like last night’s will allow him to continue to see that bigger role. He may be one of the team’s more quiet forwards out there on a game to game basis, but he excels at the small details within the game, and that’s allowed him to drive play as well as he has through his first 73 games in the NHL. Last night was another example of just that.

Data courtesy of Natural Stat Trick