The Flyers were coming home at their lowest point of the season.
Alain Vigneault’s team had just finished an 0-3-0 road trip during which it learned 23-year-old forward Oskar Lindblom had been diagnosed with cancer.
Awaiting the Flyers in Philly was Lindblom.
Since the Swedish native greeted everyone with his captivating smile last Tuesday morning at the Wells Fargo Center ahead of the team’s game that night, the Flyers have gone 4-0-0 to surge into the NHL-mandated holiday break.
When asked how the Flyers so quickly and impressively flipped a demoralizing stretch into such a positive swing, Vigneault thought of the beaming Lindblom.
“I’d like to say it’s as simple as seeing Oskar in the morning [last Tuesday] and seeing that smiling face, and him telling us, ‘You guys gotta win tonight,’” the Flyers’ head coach said after a 5-1 win Monday over the Rangers (see observations). “I don’t think it’s as simple as that. There were a lot of emotions as far as me being with the team and seeing that. I’m not exactly sure, but I do know seeing him and being able to win that game and sort of us getting back on track was obviously a big moment.”
Before last Tuesday’s 4-1 win over the Ducks, which began the four-game winning streak, Vigneault said seeing Lindblom gave the Flyers their “best day.”
“I see Oskar here today, I think for him it was great,” he said then. “Cleared his mind, was around his friends. ... I know for me and I know for the team, it was the best thing that could happen for us.”
The Flyers learned of Lindblom’s Ewing’s sarcoma diagnosis prior to their Dec. 11 game against the Avalanche. They lost to Colorado, 3-1, to begin the three-game road trip in which they were outscored 14-5.
Focusing on hockey must’ve been difficult.
Then the Flyers saw Lindblom, they felt his presence and positivity that Tuesday morning, a renewal of their spirit.
They’re fighting with him and playing for him.
Sometimes it can be that simple.
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