April 16th, 2024

Lindstrom relishing being back in action

By JAMES TUBB on April 3, 2024.

Medicine Hat Tigers forward Cayden Lindstrom stands in front of Red Deer net minder Chase Wutzke in the first period of a 3-1 Game 2 win Saturday over the Rebels at Co-op Place.--NEWS PHOTO JAMES TUBB

jtubb@medicinehatnews.com@ReporterTubb

Cayden Lindstrom is back in the Medicine Hat Tigers lineup at the right time of the season, but it’s going to take some time for fans to see the player who dominated the first half of the season.

The 18-year-old forward suited up in Games 1 and 2 of the Tigers’ first-round series with the Red Deer Rebels last weekend, marking his first appearance in the lineup since Dec. 16. Lindstrom was out after suffering a hand injury in the Tigers’ first skate back from Christmas, an injury that required surgery and rehab, coinciding with the rehab of a back ailment.

It’s been a process the Chetwynd, B.C. product says has been difficult but he says it’s good to be back in the lineup, even if he’s not at full steam.

“Being off for three months and jumping right into a game, it’s hard on the body a little bit and hard on the mind, but I stuck with it,” Lindstrom said. “Obviously I’m not at 100 per cent yet but I’ll just keep working through it throughout the playoffs.”

His addition to the lineup gives the Tigers’ another offensive weapon at even strength and the power play as they look to go on a long playoff run. He’s made an impact in his first two games, recording an assist in the 5-4 double OT Game 1 loss Friday and scoring a power play goal in Saturday’s 3-1 Game 2 win.

Those points extend a point streak Lindstrom had running before his injury, extending the stretch to 14 straight games with at least a point. He says getting into a playoff game helped work the energy back up and he relished the crowd’s reaction when he was introduced in the starting lineup Friday.

“It was a big adrenaline rush,” Lindstrom said.

Before his injury, Lindstrom had 27 goals and 46 points in 32 games. Since his return, Lindstrom has been deployed in shorter shifts. He had a trial by fire in his first game back with extended minutes as Game 1 was pushed into double overtime by Red Deer’s comeback.

While he works his way back to full game speed, head coach Willie Desjardins cautions that it will take time for the projected first-round pick in the 2024 NHL draft to be his usual self on the ice.

“It’s really hard for him being out as long as he has, so whatever you get from him is a bonus,” Desjardins said after Game 2. “But he was better tonight than he was last night and hopefully with a day off (Sunday), he’ll be able to get himself going and hopefully he’ll be even better in Red Deer.”

Lindstrom wasn’t able to skate until he rejoined the Tigers a few weeks ago, slowly working his way back until he was able to suit up. He says a lot of his time away from the Tigers was just resting and he was limited in what he could do physically.

“I didn’t skate at all until I came back to Medicine Hat a couple of weeks ago, so it was definitely really tough not being able to do anything,” Lindstrom said. “Not being able to stay active.”

He got into reading a little bit while he was off, starting the book Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones, by James Clear. He still has to finish it but says he’s been working on building his own good habits throughout the season.

With Games 3 and 4 in Red Deer and a Game 5 set for Friday at Medicine Hat, Lindstrom says he’s just happy to be back and says he feels like himself again out on the ice in the orange and black.

“It’s great to be back with the guys,” Lindstrom said. “It’s great to practise and be playing games, it feels unbelievable.”

Editors note: Lindstrom was not in the Tigers’ Game 3 lineup Tuesday. 

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