As the Boston Bruins gathered for training camp at Warrior Ice Arena in mid-September last fall, they knew that they were going to begin the season missing two of their top-four defensemen in Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk. Both players, along with Brad Marchand, were recovering from offseason surgeries. Grzelcyk was expected to be the first of the trip back, followed by Marchand and then McAvoy. That’s how things ended up playing out, but the biggest loss was going to be McAvoy, the Bruins’ top defenseman.
In his absence, the Bruins were going to need Hampus Lindholm to be the No. 1 blueliner without McAvoy in the lineup. When general manager (GM) Don Sweeney acquired Lindholm from the Anaheim Ducks at the trade deadline in March of 2022, he locked him up the following day to an eight-year, $52 million extension to be the future top pair with his injured teammate. McAvoy ended up returning in mid-November, but in his absence, Lindholm was as good, if not better, than what coach Jim Montgomery and his teammates would have hoped he would be.
Hampus Lindholm’s 2022-23 Regular-Season
Lindholm was a rock on defense for the Black and Gold all season long. He played in 80 regular season games with 10 goals and 43 assists with an incredible plus/minus of plus-49. All that was done while averaging 23:11 a night. He finished with a career-high 158 shots on the net and he blocked 100 shots. In any other season, he would have got some serious attention for the Norris Trophy, but he was not named one of the three finalists for the award to be handed out in June.
Two of his 10 goals ended up being game-winners, but the biggest of the two happened on Nov. 1 in a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on the road. Midway through the second period, Boston trailed 5-2 and it was turning into a forgettable night. Linus Ullmark was pulled after allowing five goals in favor of Jeremy Swayman in the second period. Swayman ended up getting injured in a collision with Patrice Bergeron, which forced Ullmark to re-enter the game. The Bruins rallied from the three-goal deficit to force overtime, where Lindholm won the game by going on an end-to-end rush to score for a 6-5 victory.
Lindholm Struggled in the Playoffs
To be fair, all of the Bruins’ defensemen struggled in their first-round playoff series against the Florida Panthers. Leading the series 3-1, they dropped the final three games and were left stunned as their historic regular season winning the Presidents’ Trophy and making history for wins (65) and points (135) in an 82-game season. Lindholm struggled in the series, failing to record a point in the seven games, and had just eight shots on the net. He took a delay of game penalty in the third period of Game 6 in Florida, which led to a wild turn of events with Jake DeBrusk scoring a shorthanded goal, before Matthew Tkachuk tied the game 27 seconds later, setting the stage for two Panthers’ goals in the final six minutes to force a Game 7.
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Two days after the Game 7 loss, Lindholm spoke to the media and said that he was fine and that everyone had bumps and bruisers that time of year (from ‘Bruins’ Hampus Lindholm was playing with a broken foot down the stretch and into the playoffs,’ Boston Globe, May 17, 2023). As it turned out, Lindholm played injured in the postseason with a fracture in his foot, he told Aftonbladet on May 9 when asked why he did not join Sweden in the World Championship. If that is the case, it’s hard to believe that the Bruins were not aware of the injury. If he played a month with the injury and the Bruins knew about it, they should have given him more time off before the postseason. The injury makes sense considering how much Lindholm struggled in the seven games.
Lindholm Big Part of Bruins’ Defense
Locked up for the future, Lindholm and McAvoy are the top defensive pieces that Sweeney will build his next core around. Both players give the Bruins two No. 1 defensemen and players that can play in all situations. At 29 years old, he is in the prime of his career and someone that is a key piece of the future as the Bruins look to continue to be a contender every season.