Oskar Lindblom Turning the Corner for Philadelphia Flyers

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 01: Philadelphia Flyers Left Wing Oskar Lindblom (23) skates during the first period in the NHL game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers on December 1, 2018, at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 01: Philadelphia Flyers Left Wing Oskar Lindblom (23) skates during the first period in the NHL game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers on December 1, 2018, at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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Oskar Lindblom is starting to look like the player fans hoped he would be when he made the jump to North America. The current hot streak is proving it.

Even when Oskar Lindblom was drafted in the fifth round of the 2014 draft, the selection was seen as a savvy move. Although the Swede was drafted in the mid-to-late rounds, he was viewed as a prospect with potential to score goals and be a two-way player, but lacked foot speed.

It took some time, but his 2016-17 season exponentially grew those expectations. As a 20-year-old, the left winger scored 47 points in 52 games in the SHL, the highest league in Sweden. That was good for fourth in the league and was behind two former NHLers, Joakim Lindstrom and Broc Little.

So unsurprisingly when Lindblom made the jump to North America the next year, there was plenty of excitement from Flyers fans.

Unfortunately, it didn’t go quite as expected. Lindblom didn’t make the Philadelphia roster out of camp and spent 54 games with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. He did finally earn his recall, but only mustered six points in 23 games and was a healthy scratch in the playoff series versus the Pittsburgh Penguins.

This year, just like the skating issues that plagued his draft year, Lindblom is making all those concerns go away. In the past 13 games, the 6-foot-1 winger has 10 points, easily the best stretch of his career, and brings his points total to 22 in 58 games.

The biggest difference from last year is that Lindblom’s scoring chances are actually going in. It was hard to find a more unlucky player than Lindblom last season, who rang shots off posts often or simply met the pad or a glove of a lunging goalie.

This season, he’s had much better fortune. His shooting percentage is up to 10 percent from the five percent he was shooting last season according to Hockey Reference and his 10 goals are already five times more than his 2017-18 totals.

But there are more reasons than just pure luck, such as the Flyers’ coaching change. In the 30 games under former coach Dave Hakstol, Lindblom averaged 11:36 in ice time. Under Scott Gordon, the forward is up to 13:14 and has the same amount of points despite an 11-game pointless streak during that time.

It also helps that Gordon has Lindblom playing with linemates like Sean Couturier and Jake Voracek. The 22-year-old has spent time with Nolan Patrick before, but not with players at the level of the former two.

And it’s paying dividends for all three. In the same 13 games that Lindblom has 10 points, Couturier has 19 and Voracek has 13.

Of course, it’s fair to ask if this improved play is just a hot streak coinciding with a great stretch from the Flyers, but if Lindblom has proven anything it’s that things might start slow, but they’ll end up speeding past expectations.

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