It only took one game for Hampus Lindholm to feel the excitement of hockey season in Boston.
The former Ducks defenseman is now locked in for the long term with the Bruins, and he’s already remarking about the difference in overall atmosphere. Because no offense to Ducks fans or the city of Anaheim, but hockey is simply a much bigger deal in Boston. It just is. Always will be. And Lindholm felt that.
“This is not Anaheim,” Lindholm quipped as he entered the media room following the Bruins’ 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night at TD Garden. It’s unclear what Lindholm was referring to, precisely, but it could’ve been just the whole experience. Louder fans, bigger media presence, higher energy.
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“I felt good. I love that feeling – little butterflies, little nervous getting out there, that’s why you play the game,” Lindholm said on his first time playing in Boston as a Bruin. “The fans here are unbelievable. You’ve got to say thank you for supporting [us] the whole game. It was so loud out there, it makes it more fun to play. Good to get the first game under your belt there. It was a huge win for us.”
"The fans here are unbelievable. I've got to say thank you to them first for supporting the whole game. It was so loud out there. It makes it more fun to play." -- Hampus Lindholm on his #NHLBruins debut pic.twitter.com/VEnQlO5uw2— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) March 25, 2022
This being a game against Tampa, Thursday night certainly had more of a playoff feel. And it felt like a playoff win for the Bruins, who jumped the Lightning in the Eastern Conference standings by a point.
Lindholm was a major factor in the victory. He assisted on David Pastrnak’s first of three goals with a crisp breakout pass, which came after he retrieved and protected the puck behind his own net. Here’s a key stat that should bode well for the Bruins defense going forward: they allowed only one high-danger scoring chance with Lindholm and Charlie McAvoy on the ice at 5-on-5, per Natural Stat Trick.
The defenseman’s sheer size (6-foot-4) should make a big difference for a Bruins blue line that’s desperately needed it in their own end, but Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy was also impressed by Lindholm’s play in traffic and in transition.
“I think he was actually maybe a better puck-mover in small areas than I anticipated,” Cassidy said. “I was thinking more about the size, the mobility, the ability to close plays, get his shot through on the offensive blue line, but he made a lot of small-area plays on the breakout that’s going to benefit this hockey club.”
Overall, it was an excellent first impression for Lindholm, and also a great job by the fans and the city in welcoming him.
Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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