Tkachuk overshadows star-studded efforts of Flames in Battle of Alberta – Sportsnet.ca
MONTREAL – It’s never surprising when Matthew Tkachuk manages to steal the spotlight, as the polarizing pest has the rare ability to turn games on a dime any number of ways.
His targeting of Zack Kassian Saturday ultimately decided the outcome of a game won 4-3 by the Flames, who cashed in on a power play that came courtesy of Kassian’s series of Hulk smashes on Tkachuk, who was unwilling to dance once again.
The NHL’s Department of Player Safety said Sunday it saw nothing wrong with Tkachuk’s helmet-removing hits on Kassian, but would have a hearing with Kassian for the attack.
The debate rages on over Tkachuk’s responsibility as the game continues to struggle to interpret its ever-evolving hockey code.
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On Sunday the questions continued, as those north of Red Deer were stunned that Tkachuk’s three targeted blasts on Kassian were deemed by league officials to be above board.
Those in the southern half of Alberta were thrilled it’s Kassian who will be answering to league disciplinarian George Parros Monday for showering the cowering Tkachuk with more than a half dozen furious lefts to the cranium as he covered up with gloves firmly attached.
No one is wondering if it was a coincidence the second linesman took his time intervening in what used to be considered a matter to be solved by the two players.
No one is debating the merits of having a lad like Tkachuk awaken the Battle of Alberta with his black hat.
It’s clear which fan base will be buying the “Get off the tracks” T-shirts and which will buck up for the “He’s a (expletive)” paraphernalia.
All of it is good for business.
This was, without question, one of the NHL’s finest of three-hour sessions this season. The game had everything, including several lead changes, another gem from Connor McDavid, a whopping 49 hits and some ever-welcome vitriol and controversy.
Better yet, the war of words continued in the respective dressing rooms, setting up even juicier rematches Jan. 29 and Feb. 1.
Not lost in Calgary’s dressing room was just how complete a game the Pacific-leading Flames played, raising hope that perhaps when the chips are down moving forward, there is a large cast of characters capable of rising to the challenge.
That was the knock on the Flames last spring when they collapsed en masse.
On this night, several notable performances were worthy of praise, making it almost as hard to pick the three stars as it was to convince fans on either side the merits of what Tkachuk did or didn’t do when asked to dance.
The Flames power play was the difference, the penalty kill preserved the win and the Flames have won five in a row to set up an all-Canadian road trip through Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa this week with plenty of heroes on board, including:
• Elias Lindholm: For the second time in three games the Flames best player scored twice – quite a statement in a game in which his chief responsibility was to try shutting down McDavid. The man who does it all for the Flames hit the 20-goal mark with his game-winner on the power play, and was key in shutting down the Oilers only man advantage late in the evening. He has given the Flames a versatility it didn’t have before by centering the top line with Tkachuk and Andrew Mangiapane, allowing Sean Monahan’s second unit to go up against Leon Draisaitl’s line.
• Johnny Gaudreau: It was poetic that ten minutes after McDavid put the visitors up 2-1, the Flames resident top gun responded with a top-shelf beauty, made possible by one of his patented east-west ventures inside the blue line that opened up his shooting lane. A game-high six shots on goal in a contest in which he rebounded from a nightmarish shift that saw his turnover ultimately bounce into his own goal off his leg.
• Tkachuk: Put all the drama aside, the Flames highest-paid player was money all night, leading the game with six hits, helping to limit McDavid’s effectiveness, providing the perfect screen on Lindholm’s game-winner and then topping it all off with a quote to be enshrined in the Battle’s hall of fame.
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• Dillon Dube: The kid from nearby Cochrane said before the game his wildest dreams of playing in the NHL never included playing in the BOA he watched as a kid. Yet, there he was snapping in a game-tying goal midway through the second period. Off a relentless forecheck that saw Derek Ryan pick off an Ethan Bear clearing attempt and fire it at Mikko Koskinen, Dube converted the rebound with a sweet finish. Justice-served for Dube, who was robbed by Koskinen three minutes into the night.
• Cam Talbot: One of the brightest spotlights heading into the game was on the former Oiler, who earned his third-straight start and walked away with his fourth-straight win. Several of his 29 saves were pivotal, including a sprawling pad save on James Neal who was unable to convert on an open net, as he did so often as a Flame last season.
• Monahan: Continuing his focus on being more physical, he was fully engaged at both ends of the ice, finishing with an assist and a screen on Koskinen that allowed Gaudreau’s goal to find the net.
None of this is forgetting to mention the tenacity of Sam Bennett, the shot-blocking grittiness of Travis Hamonic or the forechecking of Mangiapane who almost opened the scoring in the first minute, as he did in the Flames first win in Edmonton Dec. 27.
Very few passengers.
“I agree with you – we had a solid night up and down our lineup,” said Talbot, who only had three teammates who failed to register a shot on goal.
“Gio and Brodes did a heck of a job on their top line, and Hani and Hammer did a great job as well. Our back end was extremely solid and we had a lot of support from our forwards coming back. We just got so many contributions from everyone in this room.”
For a Flames fan base that relished a memorable evening at the Dome, there were so many encouraging signs, so many delicious storylines and palpable excitement for the imminent return engagement.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Treliving Hiring Shows Shanahan's Incompetence – Editor in Leaf
The problem isn’t that Brad Treliving is the newest GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs, but instead, it’s Brendan Shanahan’s explanation of it.
As previously mentioned, Brad Treliving is a good executive with a long hockey career, but he never should have been hired as the Toronto Maple Leafs GM.
Reports already indicate that the core-four will remain the same next year, which is fine, but why hire someone new if they’re going to do the same thing and not at least scare the roster that they could be moved?
A new GM is supposed to ignite change and bring a new approach to the game. It’s not someone who’s just going to re-do the job that Kyle Dubas just did.
When Shanahan fired Dubas, he wanted someone who had experience, which is what Treliving brings, but it’s not like he has a ton of winning experience. He’s never been to a Stanley Cup Finals before and only advanced to the second round twice in nine years in Calgary, so what’s really the difference between him and Dubas?
Nothing, at least not in terms of experience or success.
The only difference is that Shanahan is a bitter old-man who was scared that the young buck in Dubas was getting too much attention and that he might take his job one day.
Toronto Maple Leafs: New GM Brings Nothing Different From Dubas
If you look across the league, it’s crazy how much esteem Dubas has. By the way Shanahan described Dubas during his firing, it’s like he was only in the league for 10 minutes and didn’t have the respect of his peers.
Shanahan’s statement was actually hilarious when you compare his words to what other people have said about Dubas. Here’s what Shanahan said during his press conference:
“Treliving earned tremendous respect during his time in the NHL and built excellent relationships … We are confident that Brad’s leadership and strategic vision will elevate the Maple Leafs in our continued pursuit of a championship.”
As for Dubas, if you read Pierre LeBruns’ article in The Athletic last week, the same words were essentially said about him, here are some quotes from that article:
- Jarmo Kekalainen (Columbus Blue Jackets): “I have the utmost respect for Kyle, both as a professional and as a person. He’s always a straight shooter to deal with. No bulls—. Just an all-around really good person and a professional. All our discussions were straightforward and analytical. I think he has a very thorough approach to everything; you have to be prepared when you talk to him because he’s going to look at things from every angle. I have a lot of respect for him.”
- Bill Zito (Florida Panthers) : “Obviously, a very bright man. And a guy that I have a lot of faith in his character. He’s a guy you could do a deal with. And if it wasn’t papered, you could tell the (player) go ahead get on the plane. As an agent, we used to say if you did a deal with a GM and you didn’t have a contract back yet, would you send your player on the plane? That’s a level of respect I have for Kyle’s integrity. Obviously, I’m very fond of him. I think he did a hell of a job there.”
- The GMs of Nashville, Tampa and Edmonton were all quoted as saying really nice things about him as well.
All of these old-school and experienced GM’s said nothing but great things about Dubas, yet the Leafs didn’t want him. They explained all of the attributes that Shanahan wanted in a GM, yet they decided to move on and hire Treliving instead.
Shanahan took a bitter approach and gassed one of the most thoughtful and intelligent hockey minds of this generation and instead hired a guy who hasn’t doesn’t seem to be an improvement in any way.
No disrespect to Treliving because I think he’s going to do a fine job, but the explanation of Dubas’ firing gets dumber with every second and continues to show the incompetence of Shanahan as the President of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
How much are Stanley Cup Final tickets? – ESPN – ESPN
The Stanley Cup Final will return to Las Vegas and South Florida for the Florida Panthers vs. the Vegas Golden Knights. For fans of the Knights, who reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2018, tickets to the first two games at T-Mobile Arena are a bit cheaper this time around.
The average price for a ticket to Game 1 is $763, according to Vivid Seats data. In 2018, during the franchise’s first trip to the Final, the average was $1,062. That was the highest in recent years for a team making its Final debut or returning after a long drought. Last year’s Game 1 between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche had an average price of $1,052. The Avalanche, who hosted Game 1, were playing their first Final game since 2001. When the St. Louis Blues hosted their first Final game in decades in 2019, the average was $869.
For Saturday’s opening game, the lowest-priced available ticket is going for $405 on the Knights’ website, while TickPick lists a no-view, standing room only ticket for $311. The most expensive ticket is $9,750. These prices don’t reflect taxes or fees.
For Game 3, the Panthers’ first Stanley Cup Final home game since 1996, the average price for a ticket at FLA Live Arena is $628, according to Vivid Seats. At Ticketmaster, the Panthers’ ticket-seller, the lowest-priced ticket is $538. The most expensive ticket is reselling for $9,000 before taxes and fees. The average price for Game 4 is a bit higher at $689.
If the series goes to seven games, fans might need some extra casino winnings to get into the arena. Prices via the Knights’ website range from about $900 to $25,000.
NBA Finals Takeaways: Nuggets’ stars show they’re ready for biggest stage – Sportsnet.ca
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