Flyers

Oskar Lindblom's smile provides picture-perfect moment for Flyers

Oskar Lindblom's smile provides picture-perfect moment for Flyers

Matt Niskanen always marvels at Oskar Lindblom's presence.

“Fantastic, every time he shows up," he said. "The guy never stops smiling.”

Pretty impressive given the circumstances.

“It really is," Niskanen said. "He was like that obviously before he got the news, and hasn’t changed. The guys love having him here. Even to chat for just a few minutes and see his face, it’s great.”

On Monday at the Wells Fargo Center, the Flyers were once again uplifted by Lindblom, their 23-year-old teammate who is battling Ewing’s sarcoma. It was picture day and the Flyers were all smiles. And there was Lindblom, wearing his No. 23 jersey, standing, smiling and completing the group photo.

“Everyone is in a better mood when he’s around," Joel Farabee said. "He’s a huge part of this team, so having him around is great. I know it made my day a whole lot better."

(Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers)

Lindblom, who was diagnosed in December and continues to undergo treatment, remains a crucial part of the team. Lindblom's nameplate always hangs over his locker at the Wells Fargo Center and on the road. With his recovery and the club's schedule, Lindblom and his teammates see each other periodically. But when he visits, the Flyers are left beaming.

“The boys try to visit him as much as we can," Ivan Provorov said. "He’s been around for a few team events and it was definitely great to see him around the locker room, around the boys. Everyone misses him and it’s great to see that he’s recovering well.

“With hockey sometimes, you forget about just life in general. This is something bigger than a lot of things and it’s just great to see him happy and great to see him smiling.”

(Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers)

The Flyers, winners of nine straight games, are fighting for first place in the Metropolitan Division. Pressure builds this time of year as March gives way to playoff hockey in April.

Knowing Lindblom's fight with cancer puts wins and losses in perspective for the Flyers.

"This is just a hockey game," Kevin Hayes said. "Obviously we want to win every night, our coaches want to win, our fans want us to win, but hockey is an extreme lower level of anything compared to cancer.

“It’s always a good day when you see Oskar. He’s going through a battle and we see him every chance we get. He just brings a bunch of energy to this room. I don’t know how I would handle what he’s going through, and he’s handled it with professionalism. He brings everyone into a happier place. If you’re having a bad day, you don’t have a bad day anymore when you see Oskar."

(Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers)

The 2019-20 Flyers are a tight-knit group.

Rallying behind Lindblom has brought the team closer together.

“It’s awesome," Michael Raffl said. "He’s part of the team. We care about each other here. It’s always nice to have him around and seeing how he’s doing, how everything is developing.”

Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault can't get enough of Lindblom's smile.

“He was in great spirits," Vigneault said Monday after practice. "It was great having Oskar in the team picture today."

What would be a team picture without that smile?

(Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers)

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

Flyers slammed back to earth in Game 2, hope they didn't lose Travis Konecny to injury

Flyers slammed back to earth in Game 2, hope they didn't lose Travis Konecny to injury

BOX SCORE

Entering Friday afternoon's game, the Flyers had not yet trailed through their 4-0-0 start to the NHL's return-to-play 24-team tournament.

They trailed early and big in a back-to-earth Game 2 loss to the Canadiens at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, a disastrous 5-0 decision that has evened the Flyers' best-of-seven first-round playoff series with Montreal.

Carter Hart was yanked from the game with 2:03 left in the middle frame after yielding more than three goals for the first time in 12 games.

An awful first period by the Flyers (more on that below) set the tone and now head coach Alain Vigneault will have to work his magic with some adjustments if his top-seeded club wants to regain control of the series.

"We got our butts kicked," Vigneault said postgame in a video interview.

• After shining through his first three starts in the tournament (3-0-0, 1.00 goals-against average) and having his 22nd birthday Wednesday, Hart was roughed up by Montreal.

The Flyers were not good in front of him and Hart wasn't good himself, either.

On Jesperi Kotkaniemi's first of two goals to make it 2-0 in the opening stanza, Hart had a bad giveaway behind his net that eventually led to the marker. If there's one thing Hart has had to work on, it's his play with the puck outside of his crease.

Hart made only 22 saves on 26 shots before Brian Elliott took over, finishing the game with five saves on six shots. Hart will be right back at it in Game 3. It's his first taste of failure in the NHL playoffs.

Carey Price is so difficult to beat when he has a big lead. He was impressive and pitched a 30-save shutout.

• As the Flyers started looking like a contender down the stretch of the regular season and through the round robin, they didn't give fans much at all to complain about; they were that good.

Well, the first period Friday against the Canadiens was worthy of complaints. The Flyers put out what might have been one of their worst first-period performances of the 2019-20 season.

From the onset, the Flyers looked slow, sloppy and out of sync as the eighth-seeded Canadiens completely took it to the Eastern Conference's top seed.

The Flyers trailed 1:02 into the action on a Tomas Tatar goal (his first of two) and things never got better during the opening stanza. As a result, they were down by multiple goals at first intermission for the first time in their last 15 games, while they were outshot 16-6. At one point, Montreal had a 12-0 advantage in shots. 

It sort of felt like an ugly flashback to 2018-19. The Flyers were not ready or energized out of the chute and it burned them a game in this series. Every game is precious in the playoffs.

• The Flyers' nightmare was capped when All-Star and leading scorer in the regular season Travis Konecny exited the game in the third period after blocking a shot with his foot.

Konecny departed under his own power without putting pressure on his left leg. The Flyers will hope it was a precautionary exit in a game that was already decided.

Michael Raffl (undisclosed injury) was able to skate in warmups after missing the final two round-robin games and Game 1 of this series. Scratches can skate during warmups and the fact that Raffl partook is a good sign for his potential return.

• If you're looking for any positives after this one, it's that the Flyers went 19-6-1 without consecutive losses from Jan. 8 to the end of the regular season (also known as the NHL pause on March 12).

Under Vigneault, the Flyers were very good at burying a bad performance by quickly turning the page with proper adjustments. They suffered a 5-0 loss and 4-1 defeat during that stretch from Jan. 8 to the end of the season; they responded well from both of those clunkers with strong wins.

• Losses like that will bring changes in the playoffs.

The third defensive pair of Shayne Gostisbehere and Justin Braun struggled. Both blueliners had a minus-2 rating, both had turnovers and both just didn't look in rhythm.

The Canadiens' fourth goal took a bad bounce of off Gostisbehere's skate. Those happen but they also don't look good. A Gostisbehere penalty led to a Montreal power play goal to make it 3-0. The holding call on Gostisbehere was questionable as he was trying to prevent a breakaway from Max Domi.

Everyone played poorly, but it wouldn't be surprising if Vigneault gives Robert Hagg a look for defensive and physicality reasons in a big Game 3.

• In an attempt to spark the Flyers, Vigneault shuffled his lines for the third period but it didn't lead to much.

The Flyers' top five goal scorers from the regular season — Konecny (24 goals), Kevin Hayes (23), Sean Couturier (22), Claude Giroux (21) and James van Riemsdyk (19) — have combined for nine assists but no goals in the tournament so far.

• The Flyers' power play is 1 for 19 in the tournament. It hasn't been sharp or consistent when the Flyers get set up.

• The series continues Sunday with Game 3 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

For the full series schedule, click here.

The Flyers won't have an on-ice practice Saturday.

Sports Uncovered is on all podcast platforms: click here to subscribe now!

Subscribe and rate Flyers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

Flyers vs. Canadiens NHL playoffs: Game 2 live stream, storylines, more

Flyers vs. Canadiens NHL playoffs: Game 2 live stream, storylines, more

The Flyers on Friday will look to take a 2-0 series lead when they play the Canadiens in Game 2 of their best-of-seven first-round playoff set.

Let's get into some essentials:

When: 3 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 2 p.m. ET
Where: Scotiabank Arena
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• The Flyers have seen a wide range of contributors through four games in the NHL's return-to-play tournament. Balance was integral to their turnaround in 2019-20 and it has been important so far in the tournament.

The Flyers are 4-0-0 (three wins in the round robin, one over the Canadiens) and have outscored the opposition 13-4. The scary thought about the ceiling being even higher is that their top five goal scorers from the regular season have yet to tally a marker. Travis Konecny (24 goals), Kevin Hayes (23), Sean Couturier (22), Claude Giroux (21) and James van Riemsdyk (19) have combined for nine assists but no goals — and everyone knows they can score some goals, too.

Those numbers are a true testament to the Flyers' drastically improved depth.

• Did the Flyers get underneath the skin of Montreal goalie Carey Price during their 2-1 win in Game 1?

The veteran netminder does not like being bumped or obstructed, which was evident Wednesday.

The Flyers' two goals came with a man right in front of Price. Look for a heavy emphasis on that in Game 2 and moving forward.

• The last time the Flyers took a 2-0 series lead in the playoffs was 2012 against the Penguins during the first round. They won the series and have not won one since then.

Projected lineup

Forwards

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Joel Farabee
Scott Laughton-Kevin Hayes-Travis Konecny
Nicolas Aube-Kubel-Derek Grant-Jakub Voracek
James van Riemsdyk-Nate Thompson-Tyler Pitlick

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim-Philippe Myers
Shayne Gostisbehere-Justin Braun

Goalies

Carter Hart
Brian Elliott

Sports Uncovered is on all podcast platforms: click here to subscribe now!

Subscribe and rate Flyers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers