After an arduous battle with Ewing’s Sarcoma in 2020, Oskar Lindblom made his triumphant, and permanent, return to the lineup for the Flyers this season cancer-free. Although Lindblom did make an appearance in the Toronto bubble, it was clear that he wasn’t physically prepared for the rigors of NHL hockey due to the effects of his treatments.
The first half of this season was always going to be about getting his body back to the condition it was in prior to his treatments, as such, he’ll be graded on a bit of a curve. A person can only recover from such a taxing experience with time.
So how has Lindblom performed so far this year? In short not great, but improving!
For the full season, Lindblom has played in 20 games missing three due to a stint on the COVID-19 protocol. It was later revealed he did test positive for COVID-19 but did not experience severe symptoms.
In those games he’s has compiled just 2 goals and 5 assists for 7 total points, a far cry from the production he was putting up pre-diagnosis.
The biggest calling cards of his game-the ability to drive play and consistently win board battles-have been noticeably absent, understandably so after losing so much muscle mass in a short span.
For the full season Lindblom holds a 45.32 CF% and a 46.06 xGF%, pretty poor work considering he hasn’t been hurting for quality linemates. Again, a long way away from the lofty standards he had been setting for himself (54.02 CF%, 53.55 xGF% in 2019-20).
It cannot be overstated that this is a man who was undergoing treatment for cancer within the calendar year, his strength will return with time. The good news is that time may be arriving.
Since returning from COVID-19 protocol, Lindblom has looked rejuvenated and his numbers have reflected that. In the seven games since returning Lindblom has picked up 3 assists, one of which was to set-up Claude Giroux’s game-winner against the Pittsburgh Penguins and showcased Lindblom’s best work.
On that sequence, Lindblom picks the pocket of a Penguins defender in the offensive zone before alertly throwing the puck towards the net creating a rebound for Nicolas Aube-Kubel that he backhands to Giroux for a tap-in goal. It was vintage stuff from Lindblom that the Flyers hope to see a lot more of in the second half of the season.
More importantly over these last seven games, he’s begun to drive play to a degree we are more accustomed to seeing from the young Swede with a much improved 53.24 CF% and 56.88 xGF% at 5v5.
All in all, Lindblom’s season has been underwhelming to this point, but expecting anything more would have been foolish considering the unique circumstances. Until very recently, he hadn’t provided play-driving or offense so it’s hard to give him too high of a grade.
If Lindblom can continue to build on his most recent performances he’ll earn a much higher grade by the end of the season, but more importantly, he’ll serve as a catalyst for the team to make their playoff push.
This article utilizes and references advanced stats. You can learn about the basics here.