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The Philadelphia Flyers staved off elimination yet again Thursday and got a boost from Oskar Lindblom‘s return to the lineup, marking the forward’s first game action 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.”
“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 rare bone cancer in December. He was having a breakout season, tied for the team lead with 11 goals through 30 games. Lindblom stayed in Philadelphia throughout the season to receive chemotherapy at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. He completed his final treatment in July.
Coach Alain Vigneault said that the medical staff and assistant coaches had been monitoring 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 used the forward a bit more than he anticipated because 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 already demonstrated their faith in the Swedish forward, awarding him a three-year, $9 million extension just weeks after he finished 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 added that Lindblom had been an inspiration for the team the entire 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 annually to the NHL player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to ice hockey.” The NHL will announce the winner this summer.
The Flyers selected Lindblom 138th overall in 2014. He has 30 goals and 27 assists in 134 career games with Philadelphia.