BRIGHTON, MA – It would seem that Anton Blidh’s time with the Boston Bruins may have come to an end following this past season.
The 27-year-old Swedish winger is actually coming off his best NHL season with two goals, nine points and a career-high 32 games with the Boston Bruins this season. Blidh had stretches of time where he was very effective as a fourth line energy winger and played well with veterans Tomas Nosek and Curtis Lazar.
Blidh also had stretches where he was injured as a result of his hard-driving style of play and where the discipline needed to play a physical, energy role got away from him as an inexperienced player.
“Obviously I didn’t play as much as I wanted. Some days were tougher than others,” said Blidh, who was a sixth-round pick of a Boston Bruins 2013 NHL Draft that only produced Peter Cehlarik and Blidh as very short time NHL players. “But at the end of the day I thought I did a pretty good job of bringing energy and a smile every day.”
That actually all came to a head in an April 5 road loss to the Detroit Red Wings where Blidh took 12 penalty minutes after getting into a slashing contest with Filip Zadina after the final buzzer sounded for the third period.
The Boston Bruins coaches weren’t happy with Blidh for taking the penalty and 10-minute misconduct after the game was over, and he only played one more game for the rest of the season…the meaningless regular season finale when Boston left a number of their regular players back in Boston to rest up for the playoffs.
Blidh seemed to understand in his season-ending chat with the media that being able to walk that line was something he needed to still figure out at the NHL level.
“I think like bringing all the easy stuff consistently,” said Blidh, when asked what he needed to work on over the summer. “Be strong on the puck, be hard to play against and not step over the line and take stupid penalties…but get underneath people’s skin. Be effective.”
Blidh was asked if he had many conversations with the Boston Bruins coaching staff about what he needed to get more playing time.
“Not really,” said Blidh. “We didn’t talk much.”
In turn, Blidh sounded equally unhappy that he was saddled in the doghouse for the final month of the regular season and the playoffs as the Boston Bruins went with a fourth line of Nick Foligno, Nosek and Lazar instead of utilizing him.
“Some days I’d rather be in the AHL, to be honest with you,” said Blidh, when asked if he’d rather have been playing in the AHL than sitting at the NHL level. “I did not sign here to just sit in the ninth floor of the press box. I signed here to play hockey. It’s the NHL, my goal is to play up here.
“Playoffs is the fun part of playing hockey. I felt like I could be a difference some nights. So that was hard, yeah.”
The Boston Bruins organization is the only one that Blidh has known after spending seven seasons bouncing between Providence and Boston, but it sounds like both parties might be at the end of the road as the unsatisfied Swedish winger heads to unrestricted free agency this summer.