The Philadelphia Flyers’ season is over, but two players are getting a second chance at the playoffs with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Forward Oskar Lindblom and defenseman Travis Sanheim split time between the NHL and AHL this season, and are joining the Phantoms for the Calder Cup Playoffs.
The Phantoms are tied in their best-of-five series against the Providence Bruins, 1-1, with the series shifting to Lehigh Valley. The Phantoms will host the rest of the series, beginning on Friday night with Game 3.
It’s not very often that players see their NHL season ended one day and their playoff chances revived in the AHL a few days later, and the two are excited for the opportunity.
“It’s going to be fun to extend the season a little bit here,” Lindblom said.
The Swedish forward had 34 points (16 goals, 18 assists) in 54 games in his first AHL season before being called up to the Flyers in February. He recorded six points (two goals, four assists) in 23 games with the Flyers.
This season has been a grind for Lindblom. His 54 AHL games, 23 NHL games, and 4 NHL playoff games give him a total of 81 games, which is more than he played in all of last season. In his final SHL season he played in 52 regular season games and 20 more in the playoffs with his team taking the championship series to seven games. It’s been the longest season of Lindblom’s life, and he wants to keep it going as long as possible.
“It’s tough to go out of the playoffs with the Flyers, but now I’m here and we have a real good team here. We know we have a good chance to go far in the playoffs.”
Sanheim echoed those sentiments. The rookie defenseman got sent down to the AHL in the middle of the season to regain confidence and mature a bit, and it helped him a ton. He compiled 16 points (one goal, 15 assists) in 18 games with the Phantoms. He had 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in 49 games with the Flyers.
There’s two sides to it for these players, and Sanheim articulated that.
“Obviously disappointed with how the season ended up there…But to be able to come down here and join another playoff run, it’s exciting,” he said. “It’s definitely a different side of it to have your season ended one day and be back playing in the playoffs another. Not many people probably experience throughout their career.”
Sanheim is excited to not only help the team, but to gain valuable experience for himself.
“To come down here, keep playing, keep developing, getting a chance to play playoff hockey is another added experience for me.”
Playoff hockey has to be experienced for young players, and that is important at any level. There is a step up from the AHL to the NHL, but the grind of a professional playoff run never changes.
Lindblom and Sanheim are excited for their opportunity with the Phantoms.
Game 3 is set for Friday night, with Game 4 on Saturday night. Game 5, if necessary, will be on Monday night.
Let’s Rally the Valley.
Photo by Casey Liberatore/Sons of Penn
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