Oskar Lindblom paired with Claude Giroux on Flyers' top line as camp opens

Oskar Lindblom paired with Claude Giroux on Flyers' top line as camp opens

VOORHEES, N.J. — Friday was only the first day of Flyers training camp but some excitement was generated with the pairing of Oskar Lindblom and Claude Giroux on the top line.

Lindblom was at left wing, Giroux at center and Travis Konecny on the right to kick off full-squad practices, which was a major step forward for the 21-year-old prospect. Only two days ago, Lindblom was wrapping up rookie camp. Now, he's skating with the Flyers' captain.

"It was fun to play with him and see how good we are," Lindblom said after practice. "I just tried to do my best out there and see how it goes."

It was only Day 1 (more on that here), and line combinations are subject to change — rapidly. The Flyers are also split into two squads for the time being, with Jakub Voracek (a frequent linemate of Giroux's) in the second group. In other words, don't read too deeply into Lindblom's placement just yet.

Then again, putting Lindblom on a line with Konecny and in particular Giroux certainly says something of the Flyers' intentions. At the very least, the club wants to see how Lindblom performs alongside NHL talent.

"Of course, when you play with better players, you have to step up a little bit," Lindblom said, "but you have to play your game and be the player you are. You can't be another player, so just do your best out there. Hopefully, it works, and we'll see."

A fifth-round draft pick in 2014, Lindblom emerged as a legitimate scoring threat with Brynas IF in the Swedish Hockey League last season. The 6-foot-1, 192-pound left-hander racked up 22 goals and 27 assists in 52 games over the 2016-17 campaign, setting nearly a point-per-game pace. Lindblom also impressed in a brief AHL stint with the Phantoms in 2015-16 with two goals and five assists in eight games.

It's no secret the Flyers have struggled to put the puck in the back of the net in recent years, particularly at even strength. The team finished 20th in goals scored last season and ranked 27th in 5-on-5 scoring.

If Lindblom can carry over his recent success to the NHL, it would go a long way toward helping the Flyers reverse that trend.

"We only did a couple of drills, but his hockey sense is pretty high," Giroux said. "He has a good shot and he's not scared going to the net. We have a couple more practices here and hopefully a couple preseason games together, and see how it goes."

"He's awesome," Konecny said. "Get him the puck, he's going to bury it. He's a smart player, he's always in the right spot, so I'm sure that will translate to the game. I'm excited to see it."

Lindblom has also gained a reputation as a strong two-way player, which some observers noted was on display in the Flyers' rookie game against the Islanders on Wednesday. As far as Lindblom sees it, his performance on offense and defense are related — a mentality that can only further aid his cause.

"You have to be good in both ends if you're going to play in the NHL," Lindblom said. "If you're good in your own end, you're probably going to end up having chances offensively."

As long as Lindblom is getting an extended look with Giroux and Konecny, he needs to make the most of it. Though it's generally believed Lindblom has a strong chance at making the Flyers' roster, it's not a given.

Consider this Lindblom's audition. He said he's confident and knows exactly what he has to do to solidify his spot.

"Play hard," Lindblom said. "Be hard around the boards and just go to the net the whole time, try to score some goals and do my thing."

Best of NHL: Nick Bjugstad stars in Panthers' shootout win over Maple Leafs

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Best of NHL: Nick Bjugstad stars in Panthers' shootout win over Maple Leafs

SUNRISE, Fla. — Nick Bjugstad scored Florida's only goal in regulation and the game-winning goal in a shootout as the Panthers beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 on Wednesday night.

Bjugstad skated in and held the puck until Toronto goalie Frederick Andersen was sprawled out, then moved to his right and flipped in his goal during the fourth round of the shootout.

The Panthers won the tiebreaker 2-1 after Aleksander Barkov scored for Florida, and Patrick Marleau was successful for Toronto.

Vincent Trocheck and Henrik Haapala had assists for the Panthers (8-11-2).

Nazem Kadri netted a goal for Toronto (14-8-1), assisted by Connor Brown and Marleau (see full recap).

Forsberg, Turris lead Predators past Habs in SO
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Filip Forsberg scored a pair of power-play goals and Kyle Turris had the only goal in a shootout to lead the Nashville Predators to a 3-2 victory over the struggling Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night.

Pekka Rinne made 27 saves in regulation and overtime, then denied all three Montreal shootout attempts as Nashville won for the eighth time in nine games.

Jordie Benn and Joe Morrow scored for the Canadiens, who have lost their last five. Morrow's goal evened the score with less than a minute left in the third period.

In the tiebreaker, Turris beat Antti Niemi with a wrist shot between the pads (see full recap)

Anderson's goal in OT gives Blue Jackets win
COLUMBUS, Ohio — After missing training camp because of a contract dispute, Josh Anderson has performed at a consistently high level for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Anderson scored two minutes into overtime to give Columbus its fifth straight win, 1-0 over the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night.

Sergei Bobrovsky had 22 saves for Columbus in his third shutout this season and 22nd of his career. Mike Smith turned away 40 shots for Calgary.

It was the first time this season that either team ended regulation scoreless (see full recap)

Point scores in overtime as Lightning beat Blackhawks
TAMPA, Fla. — Falling behind Chicago and staging a comeback has become the norm for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Brayden Point scored a power-play goal 3:25 into overtime, and the Lightning rallied again to beat the Blackhawks 3-2 on Wednesday night.

Point took a pass from Steven Stamkos while positioned near the post and put the winner past Corey Crawford and complete a three-goal rally.

"To be down 2-0 to a team as good as Chicago, it was a great bounce-back performance," Stamkos said.

Chicago was short-handed after Nick Schmaltz was sent off for slashing at 3:10 (see full recap)

Flyers suffer heartbreaking overtime loss to extend skid to 6

Flyers suffer heartbreaking overtime loss to extend skid to 6


NEW YORK -- The book entitled “Finding Different Ways to Lose” is growing thicker by the game.

Josh Bailey scored on his own rebound just 32 seconds into overtime to give the Islanders the extra point and a 4-3 overtime win over the Flyers on Wednesday night at the Barclays Center (see observations). The Flyers appeared to have the play covered until defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere lost track of Bailey, who missed on his first attempt but converted on his second effort to hand the visitors a sixths straight defeat.

“Everyone goes through different struggles,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “There’s a growing rule for everybody. Right now, Ghost is one of the elder statesmen on the back end there and sometimes that has a way of putting extra weight on your shoulders. I just think it’s a stretch that he’s going to get through. He’s doing a lot of really good things. He’s just got to get back to where he was before he was out a few games with that injury.”

In the eight games since returning from an injury where he was slammed hard into the boards in Toronto, Gostisbehere has struggled mightily in the defensive end. However, the Flyers’ problems over the course of their current six-game losing streak extend well beyond just one player. The penalty kill has completely fallen apart as the team has allowed seven power-play goals in the last three games. The units have also killed off just four of the last 11 power-play chances.

It’s a two-fold problem. The Flyers are creating self-inflicting wounds and the penalty kill isn’t outworking the opponents’ power play unit. Of course, it didn’t help when Sam Morin, who making his season debut, gave the Islanders a two-man advantage when he flipped the puck into the stands for a delay of game penalty.

“We’re right there. We kind of put ourselves in another bad position when we took a 5-on-3,” goaltender Brian Elliott said. “It’s still biting us in the butt a little bit. I thought we played a really good game. I think we’re right there. We just need to turn that corner.”

“Can’t pinpoint one thing. It’s just got be better,” Wayne Simmonds said. “Yeah, they’re going to score. You take a ton of penalties, teams are good enough in this league. Individual skill in this league is through the roof. Guys are going to make plays, especially when they’re up a man. Best form of penalty kill is not to be in the box at all.”

Hakstol even elected to switch up his shorthanded personnel in an effort to create a different look and hopefully provide some beneficial change. The Flyers even attempted to light a fuse be calling up Morin and Danick Martel from Lehigh Valley. Martel had six attempted shots (three on net) in just 12 minutes of action in his NHL debut.

“You’ve got to be ready every game,” Martel said. “I got my chance today and I had a really good game and I’m proud of it. I think my stick was a bit tight today, so that’s why I missed the net a couple of times.”

The Flyers did finally receive some secondary scoring to complement their top line of Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek. Coming into this game, that group had accounted for 46 percent of the team’s goal production. Taylor Leier opened the scoring with his first goal of the season and Michael Raffl scored his first point in 43 games with a breakaway goal that gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead.

“It’s a little bit different role playing with T.K. (Travis Konecny) and Fil (Valtteri Filppula) out there,” Raffl said. “You get a little more offensive looks and a little more ice time out there. You’ve got to take advantage of that. I feel pretty good out there. I’m fit. I have nothing bothering me right now, so that helps for sure. I told myself, scoring or not, you’ve got to play confident. You can’t get down on yourself.”

After consecutive shutouts to start the losing streak, the Flyers have scored the first goal in each of their last four games with an inability to play with a lead: 2-0 at Winnipeg, 3-1 vs. Calgary 1-0 vs. Winnipeg and 2-1 at New York Islanders.

Four games, four leads and just two points to show for it. 

“It stinks to work real hard to earn that point, and then we gave it away too easily,” Hakstol said. “That’s the part that hurts a little bit. I’m looking for growth in all the areas. Really, tonight, I was looking for the true test of the character of our team, and our team answered and played a helluva character game.”

Friday, it’s Chapter 2 against this same Islanders team. The Flyers are hoping it doesn’t continue to read like the rest.