VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers on Saturday finished a third straight day of detail-oriented, fast-paced training camp practices.
On Sunday, the club will focus on special teams and then scrimmage from 11-11:45 a.m. ET. Followed by an off day Monday, the Flyers will host the Islanders in their preseason opener Tuesday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP+).
Let's get into three observations from Days 2 and 3 of camp at Flyers Training Center.
'He's got the flow back'
By simply looking at Oskar Lindblom, it sure appeared like the Swedish winger entered training camp in excellent shape.
Alain Vigneault confirmed as much. The Flyers' head coach said Lindblom's fitness test results showed he's where he was before his cancer diagnosis from a conditioning standpoint.
That's a really good sign for Lindblom and the Flyers.
Prior to being diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma in December 2019, Lindblom was tied for the Flyers' 2019-20 team lead in goals with 11 and was projected to finish with 30. After completing his radiation treatments in July 2020, he astoundingly returned to the Flyers' lineup for two September games during the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Toronto bubble. Last season, Lindblom played in 50 of the Flyers' 56 games, but it was a physical grind for somebody who had fought and beaten cancer six months prior to the start of the season.
"I don't want to say he was frustrated last year, but he was because he had the mind going, but the body just wasn't doing what the mind was thinking," Vigneault said Saturday.
Not only is Lindblom in great physical shape again, but he looks like himself with his longer blonde hair.
"Oskar looks really good," Joel Farabee said Saturday. "When he came back in the bubble and things like that, you could see it in his body that he wasn't there physically, which was to be expected. It's nice, he's got the flow back now, so he's looking more normal. Definitely excited to see what he's going to bring this year; I think he's really going to break out for us."
Lindblom has been on a line with Derick Brassard and Cam Atkinson. The group has impressed through three days of camp.
"Really strong skater, really strong on pucks," Brassard said of Lindblom. "He's got that Swedish game, he's really smart out there."
'Express himself loudly on the ice'
Rasmus Ristolainen turned things up a notch on Friday and Saturday.
He had his physicality and nastiness on display. During Day 2, the bruising 6-foot-4 Finnish defenseman cut off forward Connor Bunnaman at open ice in a 1-on-1 drill and checked him all the way to the boards.
On Day 3, he battled hard along the boards with Nicolas Aube-Kubel and also forced a turnover by Jackson Cates as he zeroed in for a hit.
"A quiet Finn but should be able to express himself loudly on the ice," Vigneault said Friday with a smile.
Ristolainen knows how to take away the body and end plays. He may get caught puck watching at times when he's defending away from the puck, but he's strong on the puck carrier. Vigneault said the Flyers' fitness tests revealed that Ristolainen is the team's most powerful player.
"That's a big part of my game," the 26-year-old said Thursday. "I like to take hits and give hits, too, obviously try to make the other team hate me or not want to play against me. I’ve had some good battles against my new teammates, it's been fun. ... I have so much energy, I can’t wait to get going."
Ristolainen was constantly in the middle of things when he played the Flyers last season. In the Sabres' eight-game regular-season series against the Flyers, Ristolainen played a team-high 22:03 minutes per game, was a plus-three and had 42 hits. He liked to stir things up.
When the Flyers traded for Ristolainen this offseason, he and his new Flyers teammates quickly joked and quashed the past.
"We had some fun texts over the summer after the trade," Ristolainen said with a smile. "But obviously that tells you it's hockey, whatever happens on the ice, happens on the ice. Off the ice, we’ll all have fun and we're buddies."
Tanner Laczynski did not practice Saturday after tweaking one of his hips. Vigneault said he believed it was the opposite hip and not the one Laczynski had surgery on in April, but the head coach wasn't 100 percent certain. The Flyers are expected to have an update Sunday on the 24-year-old center.
Linus Hogberg, a 23-year-old defenseman, had to exit with an injured oblique. The Flyers will have more on his status Sunday.
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