Matthew Tkachuk took a long, deep breath before delivering his assessment of Saturday’s Slaughter of Alberta.
“That sucked,” said Tkachuk before repeating it.
“Let’s call a spade a spade here. That was probably one of the toughest moments since I’ve been here. The way things are going, it snowballed. It got out of hand pretty quickly.”
He was referring to the team’s 7-1 loss to the Oilers, but he may as well have been talking about the turn his team’s season has taken.
“My one thought is I feel terrible for our goalies,” he added. “They come in and they battle every practice and every game and if it wasn’t for them who knows where we’d be. Pretty close to the bottom.”
No argument here.
After a month of masking the significant flaws in the Flames’ games, Jacob Markstrom was pulled after allowing five goals for the second game in a row.
He fell victim to the obvious storyline of that night, which revolved around the brilliance of Connor McDavid.
When Tkachuk made his impassioned pledge to take centre stage in the Battle of Alberta Saturday morning, he apparently forgot who he was playing against.
Eight hours after Tkachuk’s lunchtime vow to do whatever he could to turn the Flames fortunes around, McDavid single-handedly stifled any hopes of a Flames rising.
In the midst of a spirited, emotional start by the Flames, the game’s best player had three goals and five points halfway through the evening.
He was the story, the Flames were the punchline.
“We played him as close to perfect as we could last game — you know a player like that isn’t going to let that happen two games in a row,” said Tkachuk, whose club held the league’s leading scorer off the scoresheet in Friday’s 2-1 loss.
“As a group of 20 we should have been harder on him. I don’t know.”
The Flames have an entire room of players second-guessing things these days.
The only thing more humiliating than the score is the fact it ended up that way despite the fact the Flames showed up with a relatively solid effort in this one. The fire and physicality they’ve been sorely missing of late were there.
They simply made too many little mistakes, opening the door for the game’s most opportunistic player to take advantage.
The Markstrom magic that carried this team earlier needed to be upgraded to a Markstrom miracle to have a chance against McDavid’s brilliance as a finisher and playmaker.
As the Flames reel from their latest gut punch they’ll travel to Toronto to face the league-leading Leafs for two in a row.
Tkachuk certainly held up his promise to bring everything he had to the table, logging six hits and sending seven shots on goal as part of the Flames’ early barrage that saw them outshoot the Oilers 44-24. Tkachuk set up Andrew Mangiapane’s opening period goal with a crease-crashing effort that also led to a Flames power play when the Oilers lost their goalie interference challenge.
The Flames couldn’t capitalize thanks to several Mikko Koskinen stops, setting the stage for McDavid to expand on Edmonton’s 3-1 first-period lead with a no-look snipe early in the second that will be replayed for decades.
Cue the snowball.
“I thought the emotional level was fine until after the fourth goal — it wavered after that but when you are a little bit fragile, these things happen,” said coach Geoff Ward, whose club has lost three in a row.
“The gaffes we give up are big ones and they’re coming at inopportune times. (McDavid) was obviously really, really good tonight. But we still need to be aware of that — if you give a good player enough time and space as we did tonight, usually that’s what happens.”
Auston Matthews now awaits, and Flames fans shudder.
NOTES: One night after being stapled to the bench for the third period, Sam Bennett was front and centre early on, knocking Slater Koekkoek out of the game with a hit/interference penalty that led to the Oilers opening goal three minutes in. Two seconds after the goal, he dropped the gloves at centre ice with Jujhar Khaira … Sean Monahan missed his second-straight game with a lower body injury, opening the door for Glenn Gawdin to make his NHL debut. It was a forgettable debut, as he only played six minutes and may have had his nose broken by Kris Russell in front of the net.
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LeBron James re-injures ankle
James departed the 121-114 loss to the Toronto Raptors with 6:42 remaining in the contest.
“His ankle is battling some soreness,” Los Angeles coach Frank Vogel said afterward. “We decided not to bring him back.”
James was playing for the second time since missing 20 games due to the injured ankle. He said it has tightened up on him at halftime in both games.
Vogel and James were both in wait-and-see mode per whether the star forward could play against Denver.
“The plan is to see how I feel and go from there,” James said.
James also was thinking about the big picture.
“The most important thing for me is to be healthy and be at full strength when it really matters,” James said.
James recorded 19 points, seven rebounds and six assists against Toronto as the slumping Lakers lost for the sixth time in seven games. They are 0-2 since James returned.
“I think our team is predicated on health,” James said. “That is the No. 1 thing for our ball club. We need to be healthy and we need to be at full strength.”
–Field Level Media
FTB: What’s in store for the Maple Leafs in their final five games? – Pension Plan Puppets
Next week the Leafs have three games against the Habs; Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Monday’s game is in Montreal, while the others are in Toronto. Saturday’s game is also the final home game for the regular season. These games could help determine who the Leafs play in the first round since the Jets continue to flounder, losing six games in a row, and are now only two points up on the Habs. Some Montreal wins next week could put them in third place, knocking the Jets down to fourth where they would face the Leafs in the playoffs. That would also mean the Leafs would have to lose to the Habs all week, which… I don’t like any of these options! Just win all the games, Leafs.
The following week the Leafs wrap up the season on the road, with a trip to Ottawa, and then ending it rather unceremoniously on Friday in Winnipeg in what looks to be a regionally blacked-out game broadcast only on TSN4 in Toronto. That certainly lacks the grandeur of the final scheduled game of previous seasons, but hopefully it will be the start of a very long playoff run. The playoff games will all be on Sportsnet with no blackouts on NHL Live.
Hardev caught us up on the Marlies yesterday morning.
The Marlies played the Senators yesterday afternoon and lost 5-3. Joseph Woll was in net. He’s being backed up by Veini Vehvilainen who you may recall the Leafs picked up in exchange for Mikko Lehtonen in early March.
The Marlies host the Senators again this afternoon at 3:00 p.m.
Sportsnet is at it again with the wonky charts. I don’t even know what to do with this one. As Fulemin noted, if Matthew Tkachuk is down to bringing nothing but “size” to his line, it’s no wonder the Flames are having such a bad season.
Then again, this all sort of played out last night as the Flames lost 4-1 and Tkachuk fought (checks notes) Tyson Barrie? What?! Yes, it actually happened. Here’s the video!
The Hurricanes’ goalie picked up a primary assist on this game winner. Also <3 Dougie
The next Connor: Hockey’s latest phenom went distance to find a game in pandemic – CBC
Connor Bedard, the first player granted exceptional status to suit up in the WHL a year early and tabbed as the likely first pick in the 2023 NHL draft, saw his inaugural junior season put on ice by COVID-19. That began a long road, including a trip to Sweden with his sister, to where he is now.
Capital Gains: Van Riemsdyk Making Most of Opportunity – Japers’ Rink
The 29-year-old has maintained a positive attitude despite an up-and-down season, and it’s paying off in his return to the lineup and sudden resurgence.
High school hockey in desert flourishing despite lack of AIA sanction – PBS
Hockey is one of the few sports not sanctioned by the AIA, but it has managed to be successful. Much of that has to do with the Arizona High School Hockey Association.
Enjoy your Sunday. Our Back to Excited podcast has been postponed until Tuesday this week.
Canada sends medical supplies to India as COVID-19 overwhelms country’s health care – Global News
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Wednesday – CBC.ca
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada for Wednesday, May 5, 2021 – moosejawtoday.com
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