Post-Game: We’re (sorta kinda) back!

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.

The Rundown

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.

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.

The numbers

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.

Honourable mention: Ryan Lomberg, who felt like Tkachuk-lite. He’s probably a full time AHLer next year.

Up next

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!

  • Kensington

    I thought the flames dominated great effort. Guys that stood out were MT,Jan,OK,Mang,Gilles,tulooo and well just about everyone. The Russian kid looked promising as well. Jan could have had a hat trick at least, wow did he get robbed. Great goal tending by the Jets despite giving up 4. Hard to imagine a better start for the prospects. GFG!

  • Sobueno

    Tried watching Jankowski during this one, and while he’s certainly not a flashy player he definitely is very intelligent. Makes smart plays, great positioning, likely the advanced stats will like him if tonight was any indication.

    Oh and Tkachuk is a gamer. Can not wait to see him and Bennett drive opposing teams nuts.

    • OKG

      Best way to describe him would be that he’s a true centreman through-and-through. Like Koivu, Kopitar, Backlund, Soderberg, Bergeron, Brassard – the kind of pivot who makes good things happen every time on the ice whether it’s with a nifty play to gain the zone, a perfect back check, or using his vision to set a teammate up through layers of traffic. The higher his quality of teammate the more useful his skillset becomes because he has the sense to play with high end talent and find chinks in the opponent’s armour. But while he probably could, he’s not going to explode off the toedrag to get pucks on net. He is wired with Alex Tanguay passer instinct.

      • Truculence

        And you base all of this off of one prospects game? I want the kid to do good, but before you start comparing him to NHLers, you might actually want to see him in an NHL game first.

        Secondly, he is one of the oldest forwards in the tournament. The real test will be in the AHL this year, but based off of his scoring totals in College, there is nothing really there that screams top-six forward to me. I hope I am wrong, but I doubt it.

        • OKG

          Huh, no, I base this off of FOUR years of watching him grow in Hockey East, especially the final two.

          BTW Jankowski may be older in age than the competition but he is less physically developed relative to his frame, and his total number NCAA games played is less amateur experience than most of these Junior kids have racked up.

        • Sobueno

          He did manage 6 points in 8 AHL games end of last year as well. Not a huge sample size but it’s something. After seeing him live last night I’m pretty hopeful about him turning into something for us. For sure he’s one of the older players in the tourney so he should be doing well, and so far he’s had a good showing.

        • jupiter

          “There’s nothing really there” that screams top six forward to me,based off his college points.

          That screams a narrow minded approach to me.

          Did M ST Louis’s stat’s scream at you.
          Did B Hull’s stst;s scream at you.

  • smatic10

    Typed out some individual player reviews for those that didn’t watch the game. This was obviously from my perspective so feel free to critique.

    Tkachuk: He was a little flat-footed for the first 5-10 minutes of the first and couldn’t get any momentum going. But he got himself engaged after basically attacking Lemieux. Then he led a couple of sick rushes down the right side. He pulled the puck between his legs and got a shot on net. The kid has got some serious skill and is very strong on his skates. And his plays in close around the net were just as advertised. He makes quick and smart plays. Huge factor in this one. Needs to be more disciplined however.

    Jankowski: I’m starting to really, really like this pick. He plays a solid 200 ft game. Showed some quick hands and passing ability. He was robbed on a breakaway as he tried to roof a backhander. He looks pretty solid in the face-off dot. He won a few and the ones he lost were not lost cleanly for the most part. Due to his lanky stature, his foot speed isn’t the best but I wouldn’t call him slow by any means.

    Dube: Smooth/quick hands and good passing ability. Didn’t show that killer instinct to score or create dangerous opportunities. But then again, it was just one game. Liked his game overall.

    Kylington: That year in the AHL was really good to him. He looks confident out there. When the puck is on his stick, he is one smooth player. If he continues to work on his defensive game away from the puck, he looks like he’ll be a really solid pick.

    Andersson: Compared to last year, he was much less noticeable. Overall he had an ok game. His foot speed is visibly slow, as everyone knows, but he got himself involved offensively and wasn’t too bad in his own end. He almost scored off a feed from Tkachuk. Still like this pick a lot.

    Gillies: Was beat with a perfect shot in the first. Other than that, he was very solid. Absolutely robbed Connor in the second. He looks ridiculously calm at all times.

    Smith: I was going in expecting very little from him. But he impressed me. Got a couple of solid hits in. Made some decent defensive plays. Didn’t take any dumb penalties. His foot speed is still quite slow but his positioning in all zones has clearly improved. I still think it’s unlikely he ever gets NHL minutes but I wouldn’t call him a complete bust yet. Also, he is clearly 35 years old with that beard.

    Phillips: Goal scorer number 1. Went to the front of the net. Made some nice passes. Already loving this pick.

    Mangiapane: Goal scorer number 2. Thanks to Tuulola’s forechecking pressure, Mang went top-shelf with a wrister. Is pretty strong on his skates as he doesn’t get pushed around too easily. With top-6 minutes in the AHL, I can see him progressing well.

    Tuulola: Showed great hustle on goal number 2. Overall played a solid forechecking game. Like this pick a lot.

    Culkin: Can’t think of anything to write about him. I just hope he can stay healthy so we can really see what we have in him.

    Kanzig: Slow. Almost never hits the tape on a pass. He didn’t take any dumb penalties, so I guess that’s a positive. Fired a howitzer which Carroll tipped in for a goal. Maybe if he can consistently get that shot on net, that could be his ticket into the pros.

    Morrison: At 24 years of age, I expect a lot more out of him. He does not look dependable out there. Needs to hit the net with his shots and needs to improve his defensive play. Was nice to see him grab and pin down Lemieux in the third though.

    Lomberg: Goal scorer number 3. I liked him at last years tournament and I like him again this year. He goes hard every shift and has decent speed. His hockey IQ is on display too as he makes responsible plays. Went to the front of the net for his goal. Hope the organization keeps their eyes on him as time progresses. He may work himself up to the NHL at some point.

    Pollock: Had a great chance in the first to snipe one from just outside the slot. Looks strong on his skates.

    Carroll: Goal scorer number 4. Was a decent compliment on that top line. Was physical too. He needs to stay on his skates though, he fell down a couple times which led to the puck being turned over. Nice tip goal.

    Aagaard: Was noticeable which is great for a camp invite. Not much else to say.

    Kravchenko: Was robbed in tight on the backhand. Otherwise, he was not noticeable. Maybe someone else has a better review.

    Dyukov: I got nothing. Maybe someone else can help me out.

    Parsons: He sat on the bench really well.

    • Baalzamon

      Dyukov was fairly good, but he didn’t get a lot of ice time. Like, hardly any.

      Kravchenko actually led the game in SOG, but it’s pretty clear he’s a volume shooter. Most of them were from a ways out at a less than optimal angle. He’s got a heavy snap shot though.

    • cberg

      Overall good comments though I would differ in a few matters. First off I didn’t see anyone slow out there, including the big boys, whose skating was much improved from a year ago, and light years ahead of their draft years. Kylington was without a doubt the fastest skater on the ice and he used it effectively both offensively and defensively multiple times. It was a huge factor and evident every shift.

      Of the small guys Lomberg was the most impressive, in that he was Jooris-like in intensity and mixing it up all over. Mangiapanne also very good, but a bit calmer and picking his spots quietly. Phillips was effective in getting into key areas like net front, which paid off in a goal.

      There were definitely significant issues with Lemieux, possibly carrying over from last season or just last night. Some of his drawn penalties were pretty cheap calls and his refusal to shut up was continuous, like the 3rd period dust-up when he was totally away from the fracas and under scrutiny of a ref but went right back in as third man in and stirred up more. I think he deserved everything he got and more, not blaming Tkachuk one bit and glad he was willing to stand up to the antics.

      • Baalzamon

        Main reason Kylington was so noticeable is that there’s always a lot happening when he’s on the ice. And not all of it is good. However, the vast majority of it is, largely because he’s just such an incredible skater (as you mentioned). But I think a severely underrated aspect of Kylington’s game is his decision making without the puck. He knows where to go to break up plays.

        • OKG

          With Kylington I think the defensive and neutral zones will not be the issues they are being portrayed as at least no more than a top 4 guy like Yandle or Vatanen.

          To make the NHL though, he will need to up his offensive zone reads. With that, he will be a star.

        • Derzie

          Speed hides flaws and there were a lot last night. Good news is you can’t coach speed but you can coach mistakes. He’s a long way off but will likely get there.

  • freethe flames

    I can only comment on the parts of the game that I did see and that was last 1/2 of the first period and the last 1/2 of the second period.
    The Janko/tkachuk/Carroll line dominated each shift they played. They looked like men playing against boys; I hope they play all three YS games together and get a chance to play some exhibition games with each other. With Tkachuk not eligible to play in the AHL this year I wonder what a Janko/Mangiapane(or Pollock)would look like in the AHL to start the season. Mangaipane is as advertised a skilled guy who has a nose for the puck and a bit of pepper in his game. I also was impressed with Tuulola; he may be a real find from that draft. He will take a few years to get there but he has such great potential. Kylington’s ability to skate allows him to make mistakes and recover(reminds of TJ that way) but he has more O upside at this age than TJ did.
    Gilles was solid and although the goal that was a perfect shoot I suspect he would like that one over again.

    Hopefully we see the the top line against the Oilers as well as Mangiapne/Tuulola combo.

  • jupiter

    First off … I have enjoyed all the banter and commentary since the end of last season. Well done all of you … well except the absolutely inane ON refugees.

    Really enjoyed the game yesterday. The YouTube feed was first rate! After sooooo much talk about the new draftees and the development of the last 2 year’s worth of picks, watching them play was great. And with Janko … 4 year wait (I though he was so good except in the finishing department!!)

    Many good points from last nights affaire but frankly the 2 players that really surprised me were Tuulola and Pollock. ET was a 200 lb+ bundle of energy and was making excellent puck decisions …. he struck me as someone that anyone would quickly like to play with and get to know!!

    Pollack was just so solid in every respect. High IQ, big enough to be abrasive and yet also blessed with an offensive streak when the opp showed itself. I think we got a terrific player going forward if what we saw yesterday continues!

    The Flames in 2017-18 season will have a number of these fine selections playing a good role!

    • Derzie

      In the plays I noticed Pollock, he looked slow and confused. I wasn’t isolating on anybody but that’s what I remember. Glad to hear he had good moments too.

  • Just.Visiting

    Overall, I thought that the analysis about the individual players captured things quite well.

    I think that Tkachuk needs to show a much more disciplined game at the main camp to have a good shot at making the team. I thought that the running around at people aspect detracted from the skill he offers. As well, it’s one thing to try to play that way at this tournament. It’s quite another to try to play like that against the vets late in the exhibition season. I think that he would benefit by preparing himself to play for those games in how he approaches all of the intervening games.

    I found myself watching Janko a lot. From the parts of the game I saw, what stood out for me was how intelligently he played without the puck. He’s been very well taught.

    And, of course, you can’t help but notice Lomberg. He always seemed to be doing something when he was on the ice (and off-LOL).