The Philadelphia Flyers fought off elimination once more Thursday and got a lift from Oskar Lindblom’s come back to the lineup, denoting the forward’s first game activity since he was diagnosed with and treated for Ewing’s sarcoma.
“I tried to think positive during the whole chemo,” Lindblom said. “I knew I was going to play one day, but I didn’t know when. Today was the day, and I was lucky to be there with these guys.”
Lindblom played 17:30 in the 5-4 double overtime prevail upon the Islanders to assist Philadelphia with compelling a Game 7 on Saturday.
“This kid has so much courage,” captain Claude Giroux said. “I mean, he played unbelievable, too. He hasn’t played since — I’m not seven sure. It’s been a long time. It’s been a long battle. And this guy’s heart — you’ve got to see it to believe it.”
Lindblom, 24, was diagnosed with the uncommon bone cancer in December. He was having a breakout season, tied for the team lead with 11 goals through 30 games. Lindblom remained in Philadelphia all through the season to get chemotherapy at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. He finished his last treatment in July.
Coach Alain Vigneault said that the medical staff and assistant coaches had been checking Lindblom’s health since the team has been in the bubble.
“I talked to him this morning,” Vigneault said. “Considering our situation this morning, I knew [Sean Couturier] wasn’t gonna be in. I knew Joel [Farrabee] wasn’t going to be in. I asked him how he felt and told him how I was going to use him.”
Lindblom hadn’t played a game in 271 days. Vigneualt said he utilized the forward more than he anticipated in light of the fact that the game went to double overtime.
“It’s hard to step in in a playoff game, especially one of these we have to win,” Lindblom said.
The Flyers have just shown their confidence in the Swedish forward, awarding him a three-year, $9 million expansion only weeks after he completed his chemo.
“I don’t think there’s anything that can describe how proud we all are of him, how much he means for our organization and our team,” goalie Carter Hart said.
Hart included that Lindblom had been a motivation for the group the whole season – “not just tonight.”
“Obviously, him coming into the lineup and playing definitely gives our team a huge boost of energy,” Hart said. “One of the guys said it’s like he never left. … It’s pretty amazing what he’s gone through and how much he’s overcome and persevered, so for him to be here with us, we’re so thankful and so happy.”
Lindblom is the Flyers’ nominee for the Masterton Trophy, which is awarded every year to the NHL player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to ice hockey.” The NHL will report the victor this summer.
The Flyers selected Lindblom 138th generally in 2014. He has 30 goals and 27 assists in 134 career games with Philadelphia.