Flyers

On his own time, Oskar Lindblom puts himself right there with Flyers

On his own time, Oskar Lindblom puts himself right there with Flyers

VOORHEES, N.J. — Oskar Lindblom would take 10 minutes out of his own time and hit the ice early before practice. In Sweden, there was no high-level skating whiz to seek out on staff.
 
Actually, there was no skating coach period.
 
"Do your own thing and try to be better every day," Lindblom said. "That's the only thing you can do.
 
"You have to put yourself into it."
 
And so he did.
 
It's what makes the fifth-round pick's ascension that more grandiose. Lindblom is no longer a raw wonder with skating deficiencies. Those 10 minutes have added up into a refined and rising prospect, attracting Flyers fans in bunches last weekend.
 
Everyone knows Lindblom now.
 
"We picked Oskar, he went back to Europe, nobody even talks about him," Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said Friday at development camp. "What does he do? He just gets better and better and better."
 
Lindblom's climb has nearly reached the Flyers. The 6-foot-2, 192-pound winger signed his entry-level contract in May and turns 21 in August. He earned 2016-17 Swedish Hockey League Forward of the Year honors playing for Brynäs IF. Over 52 regular-season games, Lindblom accumulated 47 points on 22 goals and 25 assists, then added 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) in 20 playoff games.
 
How in the world did all that slip to the fifth round of the 2014 draft?
 
"Oskar going into his draft year, he was thought to be a first-round pick, maybe top-15 pick that year," Hextall said. "He didn't have a great year, some things didn't go his way, whatever, you look back and these kids are really young.
 
"Some of these kids make a lot of progress in a couple years and I think Oskar is one of those guys. His skating, you look at certain players, they don't have a great stride and their skating can certainly get better, but there's a bit of ceiling there. With Oskar, it was more of a strength issue and that's what's come on with him. It's been a couple of years, he's gotten a lot stronger and you can just tell when you see him out on the ice there."
 
Not many would have predicted this, though. Lindblom, a humbled youngster from Sweden with long blonde hair, even surprised himself last season.
 
"A little bit," he said. "I just wanted to be a leading guy on our team, but I didn't think I was going to score that much or have that many points. The longer the season got, I got more confident in my play. It felt good."
 
So how did Lindblom develop so vastly? For one, it's come from his own motivation. He knew he had to become stronger, and he has. He knew his skating had to improve, so he worked on it. His hands had to be better, and now they are.
 
A lot of the credit goes to Lindblom.
 
"Take the hat off to the kid, too, because he put a lot of work in," Hextall said. "When you improve that much, he put a lot of work in."
 
Secondly, Lindblom embodies the importance of development camp. He valued the instruction from NHL coaches and implemented what he learned moving forward.
 
A significant influence in Lindblom's development has been Flyers skating coach Slava Kouznetsov.
 
"We've got some drills over here from Slava," Lindblom said. "Try to do small stuff like in the gym. Just the small stuff to do to get better — that's what you need to do.
 
"My legs are much stronger now and my technique has been a little better. Those two things I think have been most important."
 
If Hextall had a development camp manual, Lindblom would be in it.
 
"We have Slava here — he's instructed to give things to take home," Hextall said. "And if they work on those every day, even if it's only five minutes, I guarantee you over the course of the year, they'll get better. Oskar's a great example."
 
Lindblom said his plans are to head home following development camp and then return in mid-August "just to get ready and get comfortable." With the Flyers in need of scoring, specifically production from the wing, Lindblom has become the organization's most anticipated prospect not named Nolan Patrick. He'll be in September's training camp with more than a fighter's chance to win a roster spot.
 
"He had a real good year last year and he's certainly put himself on the map for everybody, but he still has to come in and get it done," Hextall said. "He has to prove he makes us a better team."
 
Lindblom, of all people, doesn't expect anything handed to him.
 
"It's going to be a big challenge for me," Lindblom said. "It's going to be tough work to get to where I want to be.
 
"Like everybody else, you have to earn the spot and battle for it."
 
A fifth-round pick is well aware.
 
"I just think about it by myself, like fifth-rounder, I just felt like I can play and I can be on this level," Lindblom said. "So I'm just trying to push myself every day and be better. Now I've signed here and just have to do my best now to get there. That's what I want — play in the NHL, of course."
 
Putting in 10 extra minutes by himself has him right there.

Bruins 4, Flyers 3: Thoughts on the worst performance of the preseason so far

Bruins 4, Flyers 3: Thoughts on the worst performance of the preseason so far

BOX SCORE

The Flyers simply couldn’t handle the B’s B-team.

Playing without most of their regulars, the Bruins handled the Flyers' comeback, winning, 4-3, and dropping the Flyers' preseason record to 3-2-1.

Here are my observations Monday from the Wells Fargo Center: 

1. The Flyers came to life in the second period, outshooting the Bruins, 18-9. However, overall, this was by far their worst game of the preseason. Boston rested a lot of its regulars following an exhibition series with the Calgary Flames in China. All of its key players stayed back home, which made this performance that much more disheartening. We should see something closer to the actual Bruins next Saturday in Boston.

2. Defenseman Andrew MacDonald had to work on some first-period rust. On his second shift of the game, MacDonald turned the puck over horribly in his own zone, which was one gaffe. In the same sequence, MacDonald kicked the puck away from Brian Elliott, who was about to cover up. That sequence eventually led to Peter Cehlarik’s goal. MacDonald looked better as the game wore on. 

3. Should Flyers fans have any concern about Elliott? A little bit as he still appears to be working out the kinks. While the first goal was a series of breakdowns and a failure to clear the zone, the Bruins' second goal — a Brandon Carlo snap shot — was one Elliott has to stop despite James van Riemsdyk venturing too far down defensively to stop the pass and block the shot. Elliott also faced a couple of shorthanded breakaways. He turned aside Jordan Szwarz coming down the left wing, but was beaten later in the second period by Chris Wagner.  

4. I think this was a big game in determining Nicolas Aube-Kubel’s future with the team. Having played on a line with skilled players Claude Giroux and Jordan Weal previously, Aube-Kubel was working with Jori Lehtera and Dale Weise. In the first period, Aube-Kubel appeared gun shy and passed up on a really good scoring chance from the left circle. He instead elected to pass to Philippe Myers at his right defense position.

5. Jakub Voracek took a nasty hit from Bruins defenseman Steven Kampfer as he nailed Voracek up high right in front of the Flyers' bench. Kampfer was given two minutes for roughing. Voracek was fortunate he wasn’t nailed into the boards, where there was a panel of glass or the impact may have led to injury.

6. I don’t think Myers has had the outstanding camp, like Travis Sanheim a year ago, that would have guaranteed his place on the roster. In fact, Myers may have regressed a little bit in Week 2. Myers blindly backhanded a pass straight into the slot, which led to Lee Stempniak’s slap shot and the Bruins' fourth goal of the game.  

7. Michael Raffl gave the Flyers one of his best efforts of the preseason. Raffl was noticeable for most of the game as he was quick to pucks and strong along the boards. Raffl forced the neutral zone turnover that led to Dale Weise’s 2-on-1 shorthanded goal. From that moment, the Flyers scored three goals in a 2:44 third-period span.  

Lines and pairings

Forwards
Giroux-Mikhail Vorobyev-Travis Konecny
van Riemsdyk-Nolan Patrick-Voracek
Aube-Kubel-Lehtera-Weise
Scott Laughton-Corban Knight-Raffl

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Shayne Gostisbehere 
MacDonald-Christian Folin 
Robert Hagg-Myers

Goaltenders
Elliott
Anthony Stolarz

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Flyers' dynamic top 6 draws national praise

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AP Images

Flyers' dynamic top 6 draws national praise

If there appears to be a genuine buzz around the Flyers this season that hasn't been here in a few years now — and not about that weird orange thing they unveiled today — you're not exactly wrong.

This is the first season in the Ron Hextall era that the Flyers enter coming off reeling in a big fish via free agency, even if it wasn't John Tavares.

Yes, James van Riemsdyk is a big fish. He's a 30-goal scorer and was the second-best free agent available behind Tavares. It was a huge get, and it's a better fit this time around.

It's not just Philly that believes JVR's addition instantly upgrades the Flyers in 2018-19. TSN's Travis Yost on Monday graded out all 31 NHL teams' top sixes and he reaped praise for the orange and black.

Philadelphia is another notable standout. The Flyers’ offense should be nothing short of ridiculous this season — they are returning three forwards in Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Sean Couturier who all finished in the top 30 in scoring last season. Add another year of playing experience for youngsters Travis Konecny and Nolan Patrick, plus a 36-goal guy in James van Riemsdyk, and you have attacking options flooding the lineup.

What's interesting about Yost's analysis is that he didn't even include Wayne Simmonds in the group. Even with a hefty list of injuries, Simmonds scored 24 goals and 46 points last season when it was clear that he wasn't himself.

A healthy Simmonds is a 30-goal scorer, and while he hasn't played in the preseason yet, he should be 100 percent by the season opener Oct. 4 in Vegas.

The Flyers will have seven legitimate top-six forwards this season, which means the third line will have a top-six player on it. That's depth this team hasn't had since … van Riemsdyk was with the Flyers in 2011-12.

If we go back to the 2011-12 season, the Flyers had Giroux, Simmonds, Voracek, Couturier, Jaromir Jagr, Danny Briere and Brayden Schenn. That was a pretty solid group of forwards. That team just lacked a defensive group that could actually skate.

Fast forward to this season, the Flyers' defensive group is younger, a bit faster and, quite frankly, a lot better. A healthy Brian Elliott and the Flyers should be fine.

What we should take away from Yost's column is that the Flyers have caught the eye of national pundits, and that's a good thing. The season starts in 10 days.

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