WILMINGTON, MA - On Friday morning, the Bruins recalled forward Matt Lindblad from Providence. He joined the team for their optional skate at Ristuccia Arena, and there's a chance he could be in Boston's lineup on Saturday when they host the Carolina Hurricanes in a matinee at TD Garden.
It would mark his NHL debut, on his second NHL recall.
Lindblad received his first recall to the big club on February 24, towards the end of the Olympic Break, when the Black & Gold needed some reinforcements for practice with Olympians Patrice Bergeron and Loui Eriksson getting their rest.
Following the NHL's trade deadline, each team is limited to four non-emergency callups from their minor league affiliates until the affiliate's season has ended. Once that time comes, unlimited recalls are allowed, provided that a player is signed to one its 50 contract slots.
The Bruins utilized one of those callups for Lindblad.
In his first full AHL season, the forward has skated in 43 games for the P-Bruins, recording seven goals and 15 assists for 22 points. He's coming off of a two-assist game in Providence's 9-3 win over the Adirondack Phantoms last Sunday.
"He's been playing well. I think it's a guy we've wanted to see, so it's not related to any injuries, more than we're going to have a look at him, too," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said on Friday.
"We know that, again, we talk about playoffs around the corner and you talk about depth - well, right now we've got 13 forwards here, we've seen other guys come up, but we haven't seen him."
"And he's been one of the guys, to me, who was impressive in training camp, and is a good, two-way player, skates well, so we want to give him that opportunity to be seen him as well. So at one point - more than likely, tomorrow - he may be in the lineup."
Lindblad was one of the final forwards to get sent down to Providence at the end of the training camp in September. As shown on the Bruins' all-access TV show, "Behind the B," he found out the news on the flight back from the team's final preseason game in Saskatoon against the Winnipeg Jets.
"I've liked our progression, I really think you have a high hockey IQ," General Manager Peter Chiarelli had told him on the plane. "What's important now is to go down and play a lot of games."
"I'm just excited, if the opportunity comes about. If not, it's still a great learning experience," Lindblad said from the Bruins' locker room at Ristuccia Arena on Friday.
"Any time you come up here, you learn a lot, so very fortunate to be in the position that I'm in and I'll be ready if the opportunity comes about."
Lindblad is a hard worker who would likely fit in fairly seamlessly in a checking role, if he's given the call on Saturday. With Providence going through injury troubles, he's been up and down the lineup, as they push towards their own postseason.
Through 61 games, the P-Bruins sat in sixth place in the Eastern Conference with 72 points. Game No. 62 was on tap for Friday night in Providence against the Worcester Sharks.
"I think it's been a good year so far, not just for myself but our team," said Lindblad. "You know, any time coming from college, it takes a little to kind of get used to the style, the speed, the structure, but I think over the course of the year, I've developed and rounded out my game pretty well."
Before turning pro, the 23-year-old skated three seasons (2010-13) for Dartmouth College.
"There are still a couple of areas I'd like focus on and work on, but you know, I'm happy with my progress."
And even though Lindblad only hit the ice on Friday with a handful of Bruins, including Daniel Paille, Jordan Caron, Dougie Hamilton, Corey Potter, Torey Krug and Chad Johnson, the day helped him ease in with the always welcoming group.
As for the Bruins' system, callups from Providence - aside from getting past their nerves - never have much trouble with the transition.
"That's what's been good, and we've talked about that quite a bit, that we're fortunate to have coaches in Providence that have the same philosophy as we do," said Julien.
"They really believe in the way we're doing things here, the same way, so that makes it a lot easier for players coming up to play the same game, and that makes the transition a lot easier."