For those who remember my first article, I believed it to be a forgone conclusion that Oskar Lindblom would be on the opening night roster.
Lindblom was a dominant force in the Swedish Hockey League last year, potting 47 points in 55 games, and the Flyers desperately needed some top nine help.
Fast forward to February and the Flyers are finally giving the young Swede his opportunity. They recalled Lindblom during the craziness of this weekend, which also included more injuries and a trade.
With Wayne Simmonds missing up to two weeks with an undisclosed injury, Lindblom will replace Simmonds in the top nine, playing alongside Scott Laughton and Michael Raffl.
For those who hadn’t seen him play before last night, Lindblom is not flashy or a speedster in the ilk of Konecny but rather a smart player who is always in the right spot and can finish. He is going to be able to fill some of Simmonds shoes, while Nolan Patrick is expected to pick up the power play slot. Lindblom will add to the youth and future of this team and will be a huge asset heading into the playoff race.
There was also a game last night, the Flyers took on the Canadians at the Wells Fargo Center. Alex Lyon was in net, Petr Mrazek was the backup (more on him in a bit), riding the high from his win in MSG on Sunday. This time he would be going head- to-head with Carey Price and a mediocre Habs team. Montreal would score the first goal of the game with a point shot that had eyes, making its way through a whole lot of net front traffic. But the Flyers answered on an incredible flashy passing play on the powerplay from Ghost to Voracek to Giroux and finally a deflection by Patrick into the net.
The game would head into the third tied at one, with two big points on the line. The Habs scored early in the third and held control of the game until the final minutes, when Voracek was able to sneak an ugly one by Price from the blue line. And in OT, Jake who had the worst game of his flyers career, scored again following a game saving defensive play by Filppula. A huge win for the Flyers, bringing them within three points of the Metro division leading Capitals.
Next up will be the Blue Jackets on Thursday night in Philadelphia at seven o’clock.
Petr Mrazek is the Flyers new goaltender, and after injuries to Neuvirth and Elliott most Flyers fans were waiting for that other shoe to drop. In the midst of a playoff push, Ron Hextall showed his confidence in his team and went out and stole a young veteran goalie from the Detroit Red Wings. Stole is the appropriate word for this trade, as at worst it will cost the Flyers a 2nd and a 3rd, but that’s only if they signed Mrazek and went to the Eastern Conference Finals on the shoulder of Mrazek’s play. If he doesn’t pan out, maybe he costs the Flyers a 4th or a 3rd, a worthwhile bet that Hextall correctly made.
Mrazek has spent his entire career with the Red Wings and has a career .912 save percentage. Last year was the worst of his career, but prior to that he averaged a .922. If he can find his old form, he could be a real game changer for this team. These players have earned the chance to continue their success of this season, injuries should not have been the end of this special season. Mrazek resigning will create a bit of a jam at the position but I believe Hextall has earned the trust of this fan base that he will work it out and open a path for Carter Hart to be the starting goalie in the next two to three years.
The Flyers will have an update on the injured Travis Konecny sometime today or tomorrow, hopefully it is nothing serious. They will need him for this stretch run and he has a skillset that cannot be replaced at the trade deadline.
Expect the Flyers to be relatively quiet, possibly making a move for a veteran defenseman that will let them bench Manning (thought Sanheim should be playing over him, but that’s for another day).
This team is special. They are fun, and the future is clearly laid out in front of them.
To the Flyers fans who have been patiently waiting for this young, fast and fun team, they are here. For those who are still skeptical, jump in and trust me you will find yourself loving this team. To those who refuse to believe, when you finally sit down and watch some games, this team will convince you but take your time. This team is not going anywhere, the Flyers will be competing for the greatest trophy in history for years to come with this core and this is just the start.