New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad has arranged for several of his teammates to wear “Oskar Strong” T-shirts under their jerseys for Monday’s game at the Wells Fargo Center, showing their support for Flyers left winger Oskar Lindblom.
“Very classy, very first-class organization,” said Flyers coach Alain Vigneault, who used to coach the Rangers. “It doesn’t surprise me. There’s no doubt that Oskar’s situation has touched everyone in the league.”
Lindblom, 23, has been diagnosed with a rare bone cancer.
Some members of the Minnesota Wild also have purchased the T-shirts, and the list of teams is growing.
“When something like that happens, usually the hockey community has each others’ backs,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. “A lot of guys on other teams have asked me how he’s doing.”
“I think it’s pretty awesome that other teams are doing it,” winger Tyler Pitlick said. “In the NHL, when you’re on the ice, you hate each other, but there’s a lot of good guys out there, and when guys care for players on the other team it’s not surprising. It says a lot about the guys around the league.”
Shayne Gostisbehere agreed.
“It’s a fraternity, for sure,” he said. “… He knows we’re all here for him.”
“It’s a battle that he’s going to fight, but he knows that this organization and pretty much every organization is standing there with him,” said former Ranger Kevin Hayes. “Obviously we’re going out there to battle [on the ice], but I think everyone knows there’s bigger things in life than just hockey.”
Provorov battles flu
Defenseman Ivan Provorov, who has played every game since joining the Flyers in 2016-17, is battling the flu and was not at Monday’s morning skate, but he took part in the warmups Monday evening -- an indication he will play.
He has played in 282 straight games.
“I’m not going to play him [just] to keep the streak going,” Vigneault said. “I’m going to play him if he can play and help the team win tonight.”
Matt Niskanen, Provorov’s defensive partner, missed the last game with the flu but will play Monday. Vigneault pointed out that Niskanen’s wife also has the flu.
“So I guess Nisky’s partners are having a tough time,” Vigneault said, smiling.
Vigneault said Provorov told trainer Jim McCrossin, “There’s not a chance I’m not playing, so we’ll see how he feels tonight and make that call.”
Joel Farabee will return to the lineup Monday after serving a three-game suspension and will play left wing on the third line. Before the suspension, the 19-year-old rookie had been playing mostly right wing on a line centered by Kevin Hayes.
The line of Hayes, James van Riemsdyk, and rookie Nic Aube-Kubel has been playing well lately, and Vigneault didn’t want to break it up.
Farabee will play on a unit with center Morgan Frost and right winger Jake Voracek. “That line has good young skill with a veteran player,” Vigneault said, “so it should be good for us.”
Vigneault said he wants Farabee, who was suspended for a late hit, to play with the same (legal) physicality.
The Flyers are trying to win their fourth straight game before going into the holiday break. ... Carter Hart will make his sixth start in the last eight games for the Flyers. ... Vigneault praised Aube-Kubel’s physical play and his offensive and defensive game since he was recalled from the Phantoms. He has a total of two assists in four games. “I like what he’s brought to us; we needed some help from other people and he’s been one of the guys who’s been contributing for us,” Vigneault said. ... It will be Vigneault’s first regular-season game against the Rangers since they fired him after the 2017-18 season. He called coaching the Blueshirts “a special time in my life, and this is going to be a special game.”