After a fast start to the season, Rangers first-year left winger Oscar Lindberg is proving to be no fluke.
Lindberg, who became the first rookie in franchise history to score a goal in the team’s first three games, has now added a point in each of the Rangers’ past two games. The latest came Sunday when he scored a goal during the a 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames.
The Swede has exceeded expectations filling in for countryman Carl Hagelin, who was traded during the offseason, and has provided the Rangers with a much-needed offensive punch as last year’s top goal scorer Rick Nash has struggled to light the lamp thus far. The 13-year veteran has just one goal in his first 10 games after scoring a team-leading 42 a season ago.
Most encouraging for Lindberg, who scored 28 goals last season with Hartford in the AHL, is his impressive plus-6 rating, which is tied for the team lead with defenseman Kevin Klein. Not only is the rookie scoring goals, but he has earned praise from his coach and teammates for his play on the defensive end of the ice.
“He’s playing with a little bit of confidence which is hard to come by early in your career,” said linemate J.T. Miller. “He’s playing good defense, too.”
Centered by second year player Kevin Hayes, Lindberg and Miller will look to continue their strong play when the Rangers (6-2-2) take on the Toronto Maple Leafs (1-5-2) at home on Friday night.
After being drafted in the second round by the Phoenix Coyotes in 2010, Lindberg’s rights were traded to the Rangers a year later. But the Swede didn’t play in North America until suiting up with Hartford in 2013.
Lindberg has spent the past two seasons in Connecticut, and despite the fast start, the rookie isn’t taking his roster spot in the Big Apple for granted.
“You still want to show the coaching staff and everyone that I belong here,” he said.