Welcome back to hockey! Well, it’s meaningless hockey, but it’s meaningless hockey you care about.
Tonight, the Flames kicked off the Young Stars tournament in Penticton with a dominant and chippy 4-1 victory against the Winnipeg Jets. It marked the unofficial debut of 2016 Draft prize Matthew Tkachuk. The picture above should give you a good hint of what he did tonight.
FYI: you can watch or re-watch the game in it’s entirety right here
From start to finish, this was pretty much a one-handed Flames affair. The Jets did hit the scoresheet first, but the Flames were the ones in control. With speed and relentless pressure, the Flames kept the Jets in their defensive zone and dominated, especially after the first period. Calgary’s scoring was mostly thanks to the small forwards, Matt Phillips, Andrew Mangiapane, and Ryan Lomberg all put the puck in the back of the net (Austin Carroll, taller than 5’10, scored the other). Defensively, the Flames were also very solid. Jon Gillies shut down everything, and the blueliners remained solid minus a few miscues.
As I said in the intro, it was both dominant and chippy. Here’s the chippy part. Brian Burke rightfully called Matthew Tkachuk a “pain in the ass” when he was drafted, and he showed us all why tonight. The young forward was in folks’ faces everywhere tonight, during and after the play. His preferred target was old OHL enemy Brendan Lemieux, but Tkachuk really took it to everyone who deserved it. With less than five minutes to go in tonight’s game, Tkachuk, Keegan Kanzig, Austin Carroll, Ryan Lomberg, and Kenney Morrison all got into altercations with the Jets and were sent to hit the showers early. This is, after all, a Brian Burke team.
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) September 17, 2016
Overall, I felt that every player on the team had a moment or two where they
impressed me, including the invites. Compared to the rosters of other Young Stars teams, it feels that the Flames are the ones who could take this whole thing (if there was something to take). There’s a bright future ahead.
We have no fancy stats for you, but the 42-21 shot margin in favour of the Flames tells you all you need to know. For what it’s worth, I would probably have Dillon Dube as the corsi leader.
Why the Flames won
Because the Jets picked Logan Stanley in the first round.
The expanded reason is that the Jets simply didn’t have an answer to the very, very energetic and skilled Flames. Their defenders were simply unable to keep up with a pestering Flames forecheck,and their forwards simply could never get the puck because of that. The Flames’ shift to picking skill forwards instead of big forwards is starting to show, and it’s starting to pay off. For the Jets, quite the opposite.
The Red Warrior
There are absolutely tons of candidates, so I’ve picked two (and an honourable mention):
The literal red warrior: Matt Tkachuk, who probably spent more time in the box than he did on the ice. He is as advertised: skilled and adversarial. He was both tonight, but especially the latter. He continued his OHL rivalry with Brendan Lemieux, taking nearly every opportunity possible to stick it to his old sparring partner. Preferably, we get to see more of the sweet moves and less of the cross-checking to the head in tomorrow’s game.
The metaphorical red warrior: Let’s go with Jon Gillies, who hasn’t played a game in nearly a year and shut the door on almost everything. He robbed Winnipeg star Kyle Connor on a particularly impressive glove save.
Big save from Jon Gillies on Kyle Connor pic.twitter.com/qXTn7ALkRr
— FlamesNation (@FlamesNation) September 17, 2016
Honourable mention: Ryan Lomberg, who felt like Tkachuk-lite. He’s probably a full time AHLer next year.
The team is back at it again tomorrow against the Edmonton Oilers (currently leading the Canucks 2-0 at the end of the first). Puck drop is at 8:30 MT, and the game will be streamed on the Flames website and YouTube. See y’all tomorrow!