But the answer to Calgary Flames coach Geoff Ward’s public question this week about the identity of his team probably lies in some combination of Tkachuk and Gaudreau, who in their own ways were outstanding on Saturday in a 6-2 dismantlement of the Vancouver Canucks.
The game between Pacific Division rivals, both on three-game losing skids, began with playoff intensity. But by the third period, the Flames were the only ones who looked like a playoff team.
Two nights after Ward roasted players following a loss to Nashville over their willingness – or unwillingness – to compete, battle and play with an identity, the Flames outscored the Canucks 4-0 over the final two periods to move within three points of Vancouver and back into a playoff spot.
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The Canucks themselves are threatening to fall into their own identity crisis as they continue to struggle on special teams and bleed high-quality scoring chances. Even if Saturday’s loss was their first at Rogers Arena in 10 games since Dec. 17, the Canucks are suddenly on a four-game losing streak (0-3-1) for the first time in two months.
“I think we have to tighten up everywhere, to be honest with you,” Canucks captain Bo Horvat said. “We’ve got to be better in the grey areas, just chipping pucks deep, getting pucks out of our (blue) line. We lost that battle tonight.
“Just get back to our game. It’s a matter, again, of sticking to our systems and every guy buying in and doing little things right in order to win. They played a good game tonight, they played well; you’ve got to give them credit. But we’ve got to be a lot better.”
If a game’s turning point can occur in the opening minute, Tkachuk changed the direction for everyone when he challenged and fought Canucks veteran J.T. Miller as soon as the puck touched the ice after Tanner Pearson made it 1-0 for Vancouver at 34 seconds.
The Flames scored twice in the next 11 1/2 minutes, Tkachuk himself giving them their first lead at 12:08 when he legally knocked the puck in with his skate after being stopped by Jacob Markstrom’s pad following a pass from Gaudreau while the Canucks were changing.
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“Just tried to give the team a spark,” Tkachuk said. “We’re down 1-0 30 seconds in, losing three straight. I just tried to do something, you know?”
“Every single guy on the bench was going crazy,” said Flames forward Dillon Dube, who scored the game-winner and added two assists. “That got our momentum going and said we were here for business. He was big for us. That fight of Chucky, every guy on the bench was emotionally invested after that. That was a heated game. I think we brought it tonight.”
The Canucks thought they brought it, too, but the Flames took it away.
After Vancouver’s Adam Gaudette tied it 2-2 late in the first period on a geometrically inexplicable bounce off the end boards when Tkachuk tried to chip the puck behind his goal, Dube made it 3-2 at 2:51 of the second, peeling away from defenceman Tyler Myers and beating Markstrom with a screened wrister from above the right-wing circle.
Milan Lucic’s redirect of Mikael Backlund’s outstanding shot-pass made it 4-2 on a power play at 6:48 of the third period, before Gaudreau beautifully set up Sean Monahan at 16:01 and Tobias Rieder scored into an empty net.
The whole period looked like the answer to Ward’s uncomfortable questions.
“I think we really needed that,” Dube said of Ward’s criticism on Thursday. “Desperation at this time of year is the biggest thing. We just kind of listened to him and had a good practice (on Friday). . . and just knew that tonight was a must win.”
“Honest to God, I don’t really listen (to media),” Tkachuk claimed. “I don’t watch a ton of TV and I don’t read Twitter and that stuff. We know he wasn’t happy from our meetings and stuff. And we weren’t happy.
“It was a playoff-type period for us (in the third), going in with the lead, 3-2, getting a real timely power-play goal, which we want to continue to get more of. We just played a really good brand of hockey. . . and made them come through a bunch of us.”
The Canucks’ power play returned to hibernation, going 0-for-3, while the Flames scored on their only advantage.
Vancouver opened its six-game homestand – the Canucks are celebrating Sedins Week, which will see Daniel and Henrik’s numbers retired on Wednesday – with Elias Pettersson back in their lineup after missing Thursday’s loss in Minnesota with a lower-body bruise.
But Canucks winger Brock Boeser, the Calder Trophy runner-up before Petterson won the rookie award last season, suffered what appeared to be a significant shoulder or arm injury in an awkward third-period collision with Andrew Mangiapane.
And the Flames, already without injured captain Mark Giordano, lost key blueliner Travis Hamonic in the second period. Ward offered no details post-game about Hamonic’s condition.
The Flames, at least, finishing with something to show for it.
“I thought we were emotionally engaged,” Ward said. “I thought our compete level was good, but I thought we were also emotionally controlled and I thought our details were good. So there’s a lot of things in that game that we certainly can build on and I thought the guys did a great job staying together.”
Alouettes trade for QB Trevor Harris – CFL.ca
MONTREAL — The Montreal Alouettes announced on Sunday that the team has acquired veteran quarterback Trevor Harris from the Edmonton Elks in exchange for American defensive end Antonio Simmons.
In six games this season, Harris completed 135 of 192 passes, collecting 1,568 yards, adding six majors.
Harris (six-foot-three, 212 pounds) is in his ninth season in the CFL after playing in Toronto, Ottawa and Edmonton. In 139 career games, he completed 1990 passes for 23,750 yards, adding 126 touchdown passes. The 35-year-old quarterback has hoisted the Grey Cup twice (2012, Toronto; 2016, Ottawa). The Waldo, OH native was selected on the East Division All-Star Team in 2016. The former Edinboro University Fighting Scots suited up for the Jacksonvile Jaguars in 2010 and the Buffalo Bills in 2011.
“Trevor is a veteran who knows the league well and what it takes to win”, said Montreal Alouettes General Manager Danny Maciocia. “We are pleased to have been able to complete this transaction. We are confident that Trevor will work well with our quarterbacks. We thank Antonio for his services and wish him well.”
In 23 career games with the Alouettes, Simmons made 52 defensive tackles, five quarterback sacks and forced a fumble.
Simmons is currently in his second CFL season and joins the Elks after originally signing with Montreal in May of 2019.
The Georgia Tech product played all 18 regular season games for the Als in 2019, recording 45 defensive tackles, three sacks, and a forced fumble. In five games this season, Simmons has registered seven defensive tackles and two sacks.
A native of Jacksonville, Florida, Simmons played four years (2014-17) at Georgia Tech, collecting 83 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, and seven quarterback sacks. He spent time in 2018 with both the Denver Broncos and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Flames D Andersson fined $5K for roughing Oilers F Yamamoto – TSN
Calgary Flames defenseman Rasmus Andersson has been fined $5,000 for roughing Edmonton Oilers forward Kailer Yamamoto.
Andersson was fined the maximum allowable under the collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and the Players’ Association.
The money goes to the players’ emergency assistance fund.
Andersson was assessed minor penalties for both roughing and elbowing at 14:33 of the first period Saturday in Edmonton.
The Flames lost their season-opener 5-2 to the Oilers.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 17, 2021.
Report: Maple Leafs to ease up on dress code restrictions for game days – Sportsnet.ca
The Toronto Maple Leafs are apparently planning to loosen up on dress code restrictions for players on game day.
Players are required to wear jackets, ties and dress pants to and from the arena, as outlined in the CBA, however, teams can ease up on the mandate if they choose.
The Arizona Coyotes were the only team that opted to do so entering the season, but the Maple Leafs now plan to follow suit, according to Lance Hornby of The Toronto Sun.
The decision comes just a few days after ESPN published an article on Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews, who has shown a flair for unique fashion while away from the arena, discussing his displeasure with the NHL’s strict dress code.
“I don’t mind wearing a suit, but it gets old pretty quick,” Matthews said. “I think it’d be fun to wear different things and be able to express yourself, similar to what the NBA does or even the NFL a little bit.”
The 24-year-old Matthews, who led the NHL with 41 goals in 52 games last season, missed the first three games of the season while recovering from wrist surgery and is expected to make his 2021-22 debut Monday night against the New York Rangers on Sportsnet.
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