BOSTON – Matthew Lindblad admitted afterward he was pretty nervous prior to his NHL debut against the Carolina Hurricanes, but the 23-year-old rookie fit in nicely with the Black and Gold. Lindblad finished with 12 shifts and 8:25 of ice time as the left wing on the fourth line with Shawn Thornton serving as the healthy scratch, and was happy his debut took place in a 5-1 win over the Canes at TD Garden.
“I felt pretty good. The first shift, I mean, everyone talks about the first shift being the toughest,” said Lindblad. “I thought after that first shift I knew I had my legs and I was moving pretty good out there.
“Even just in warm ups, you come out and the crowd is just pumping. It was just a great atmosphere unlike anything else. You have a lot of your friends and family texting you, wishing you good luck and you just want to play your best. I’m pretty happy with how I played.”
Lindblad was returned to the Providence Bruins following the Saturday matinee in Boston, but now the Dartmouth grad has some experience if he’s needed in the future. Lindblad very well could serve as one of the Black Aces during the playoffs along with Justin Florek, Nick Johnson, Ryan Spooner, Niklas Svedberg and Matt Fraser, and brings the cerebral, gritty, well-rounded game of a young Chris Kelly to the table should there be injuries during the playoffs.
Claude Julien liked what he saw from Lindblad, even if so many parts of his subtle game don’t really flash in one quick viewing of the player.
“I liked his game. He skates well, quick skater, quick thinker, he made some real good heads up plays,” said Julien. “So, like I said all along, I like his hockey sense.”
Now Lindblad has the pesky nerves and NHL firsts out of the way in a nondescript regular season game, and will be better prepared should an emergency require his services over the next few months.
“It gives you not only confidence in yourself, but just knowing that you're doing something right and management has confidence in you, and that they could use you whether it’s for rest or to help out in any way possible. I just feel like if I do get that call up whether it’s later in the year or next year or whenever…if they need me, I’ll be ready and I will be just as confident and comfortable.”