Bruce Boudreau, a man who appreciates pushing the offense, was Hampus Lindholm’s first NHL coach with the Ducks. Lindholm recorded 30 points his rookie season, boosted it to 34 in year No. 2, but never topped that his next six-plus seasons in Anaheim.
Now 28 , Lindholm is on track to blow his record out of the barn.
“We were playing a little differently as a team [in Anaheim],” Lindholm said Saturday before the Bruins beat the Blackhawks, 6-1, at TD Garden. “I think this fits more my playing style, jumping into the rush and having a little bit more flexibility, making reads myself in a way.”
By year No. 4 with the Ducks, Lindholm was under the tutelage of Randy Carlyle, a Norris Trophy-winning defenseman in his playing days with the Penguins who had a more conservative approach, in part stifling Lindholm’s production.
Some longtime Ducks also began to age out later in Lindholm’s tenure in Disneytown. Right winger Corey Perry departed after the 2018-19 season. Franchise center Ryan Getzlaf called it quits after last season, shortly after the Ducks traded Lindholm to the Bruins in a deal that included defensive prospect Urho Vaakanainen heading west.
“The last two years, I’d been feeling really good about my game,” noted Lindholm. “But maybe the team was kind of going in a different direction a little bit, with guys getting older and getting off the team. So it’s like anything in life, the [increased offense] might look like a lot now, but I’ve been working hard for it.”
Entering the weekend, Lindholm ranked fourth in scoring among blue liners, his 4-14—18 line tying him with Avalanche superstar Cale Makar.
Lindholm is on a pace for 87 points, which would be more than double his career high. The Bruins haven’t had a defenseman produce with that kind of pop since Ray Bourque went 20-71—91 in 1993-94.
Lindholm and Charlie McAvoy give the Bruins perhaps the league’s best back line tandem, though their time on ice together is rather rare. Lindholm these days partners with Connor Clifton as the club’s top offensive pairing. McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk form the other pair among the top four.
Lindholm typically pairs with Brandon Carlo on the No. 1 penalty-kill unit. Coach Jim Montgomery has been rolling out McAvoy for point duty on the No. 1 power-play unit and Lindholm, who filled that spot while McAvoy recovered from shoulder surgery, backs up the second unit.
It leads to a heavy, diversified workload for Lindholm, who has thrived with the responsibility expanded role.
It had to be frustrating for him not to have such a profile in Anaheim, particularly given his overall skill set and offensive acumen.
“Yeah, for sure,” Lindholm said. “But at the end of the day, it’s a team sport, and you want to do your best for the team and the role they put you in, and where they believe you’ll be best for the team. I’m also a team player, so I don’t try to be too selfish out there. We had some pretty good teams in Anaheim, but I am super happy to be here now and it probably shows in my game as well.”
Ullmark prepared for all duties
Linus Ullmark, the hottest goalie (12-1-0) in the Original 32, had a rare night off Saturday, backing up Jeremy Swayman. Swayman made 17 saves in his first start since Oct. 27 and first action since banging up his left knee Nov. 1 in a brief relief appearance.
Much of Ullmark’s day preparing for backup duty is the same as if he were starting, but “standby” duty does mean less brain drain.
“Yes,” Ullmark said, asked if prepping as backup makes for less angst. “You don’t focus as much leading up to it. I prepare the same way with what I do, what I eat … all those things … but the mental state is a little bit more relaxed because you know you don’t have to kind of get in the zone in the same sort of way.
“Because if you do, then you’re going to have 82 days of a season where you’re just going full throttle with that thing and you might burn yourself out.”
Backup goalies still need to be alert, particularly with their No. 1 off-duty assignment — opening and closing the bench door. For two periods of home games at the Garden, the back up is the doorman for defensemen, who reside at the end of the bench closest to their own net.
“If I’m not quick enough, and I forget to grab the door, or they grab the door first, then I realize I have to pay a little bit more attention,” Ullmark said. “Sometimes that’s tough, because there’s a breakaway, so you’ll be looking up ice when they come from your [blind] side and want to get off.”
Dressed in layers of equipment, and sitting in a building with thousands of people, noted Ullmark, mitigates the chance of feeling cold.
“Different when I was a kid, because we played in cold, empty buildings,” he said.
For the most part, backups lament that sitting around for three periods or more can be toughest on the feet.
“You’re not moving around, so they get pretty tight,” Ullmark said. “They’re tight, and you’re not moving around, so you never get that blood flow.”
Zboril skates but doesn’t play
Jakub Zboril, somewhat drained after running a fever Thursday night, was on the ice in Brighton for Saturday morning’s optional skate. He remained out of action in favor of Anton Stralman, who rode the left side on a No. 3 pairing with Carlo … In the prior two games, the Bruins scored nine goals, five by Czechia countrymen David Krejci (2), Tomas Nosek (2), and Pavel Zacha. Noticeably absent was top Czech David Pastrnak, who entered Saturday with one goal and six assists in his prior six games, but he scored two goals to extend his point streak to six games. His 28 points are tied for second in league scoring with Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl and San Jose’s Erik Karlsson … Like Lindholm, Zacha is tracking toward a career high in points. He has 3-8–11 in 18 games, on pace for 53 points. Zacha, acquired in the offseason for Erik Haula, posted a career-high 36 points last season for the Devils. Per Montgomery, Zacha is second to Pastrnak on the club for five-on-five scoring chances.
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.