Young Guns – Flames vs Canucks Impressions

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My second game of the Young Stars tournament was a mirror image of the first, with the Flames ending things in OT with a breakaway goal. Calgary’s roster didn’t change too much, but there were definitely some differences in the performances, at least from my seat in the stands. 

Here’s the guys who stood out one way or another. 

Ryan Lomberg – After a decent performance versus the Oilers kids, Lomberg upped the ante against the Canucks, constantly stirring the pot as well scoring a couple of key goals (including the game winner). Lomberg also added a fight and a drawn penalty to his busy night, easily standing out as one of the more impactful players for Calgary.

I don’t know what kind of realistic ceiling the 21-year old has, but he has earned himself a longer look in main camp after his effort this weekend. 

Andrew Mangiapane – He was relatively quiet on Saturday night, but Mangiapane was far more noticeable this time around. He had several shifts where his speed and creativity were on display and frequently looked like one of the Flames’ more dangerous players. He was moved up to play with Jankowski in the third period as a result.

Mark Jankowski – Not as good an evening for the Jankowski, Tkachuk and Carrol trio this time. They had one or two chances in the first but sort of collapsed in the second – at least at even strength, where they looked out of sync. Jankowski was maybe the best of the trio, generating some chances on special teams in the middle frame, including a short-handed breakaway (and penalty shot) that he unfortunately failed to convert on.

That said, at 5on5 the Flames’ de facto top line was ineffective at best. I was glad to see them broken up in the third.

Matthew Tkachuk – A rough evening for the Flames’ blue chipper. The 18-year-old appeared to be thinking a bit too much, resulting in a lot of giveaways and failed executions. Although his strength and aggression are always on display, Tkachuk had a lot of problems turning his abilities into effective plays this time around. He also took another ill-advised penalty, a bad habit that was on display in this tournament. I like his panache and eagerness to mix things up, but he needs to find a way to channel those inclinations without ending up in the penalty box.

Dillon Dube – I noticed Dube a lot more this time around. Although he’s young and not the biggest guy, Dube plays a very clean, capable game already. He always seems in the right position and isn’t afraid to make plays in traffic or drive the net. He dropped his shoulder and generated a grade-A chance in OT, only to see his chance clang off the post. 

Oliver Kylington – Kylington seemed to have a much calmer evening, displaying his slick skating and puck handling without giving up chances the other way. I’d like to see a but more finish out of Kylington when he’s in a scoring position, but baby steps.

Dennis Kravchenko – Another pleasant surprise was tryout Dennis Kravchenko. Just 5’9″ and 170 pounds, Kravchenko is nevertheless solid on his skates and even threw a thunderous check in the offensive zone. He added a goal in the first period and was a consistent presence throughout the game for the Flames. Of course, at 22 years old Kravchenko is one of the older guys at this tournament, but kudos to him for playing well nevertheless.

Eetu Tuulola – A goal and an assist for the big Finn, Tuulola seemed a bit more involved and engaged in this contest. He’s not the fastest guy on the ice, but he gets around well enough and can play a strong, sturdy game down low. His goal, which featured the player grabbing his own rebound in close, showed a good nose for the net as well.

Conclusion

By my eye the Flames have some intriguing tryouts to consider heading into the main camp. None of the hopefuls in either of the two games were dominant enough to suggest any of them are shoe-ins for a job on the big club, but there was a lot of varied and intriguing talent on display across the various positions. 

Lomberg might be the biggest standout for me relative to expectations. We’ll give him the Josh Jooris award for now. The Jankowski – Tkachuk duo was dominant for about a period and half, but couldn’t sustain that level of performance either in-game or across games in the contests I saw. I wasn’t disappointed with Tkachuk’s performance, however – he was clearly one of the better players despite some struggles with consistency and discipline. He might need a bit more development and seasoning before he can make the jump, but parts of his game already look pro level.

    • knappsacked

      His skating was fine but his problem was he would try to do to much sometimes. For instance, he would try to toe drag a defender at the blue line and there would be a turnover as a result. Sometimes it be nice to see him to go wide and muscle his way to the middle. Or just chip it in and lay the boom on the defender.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      I had a similar thought about Tkatchuk’s skating. To me he’s fine, Tkatchuk gets around with enough NHL speed, but he does so in a rough, inefficient way. In other words, he’s not the prettiest skater. In the end, if he gets the job done who cares.

    • The Fall

      Tkachuck’s main problem was that he was not very good all weekend. He was extremely selfish on the ice: once even taking the puck off Austin Carroll’s stick. He held he puck way too long in most cases. He failed at splitting defenders when rushing in without support. And took hugely unnecessary penalties. It was obvious at times that his teammate were not impressed with his self-centred play.

      General rumbles from all the Flames brass and media in the pub, was that he’s headed back to London.

      Tkachuck’s physicality was hugely impressive though.

      His biggest area of growth needs to be, using his high skill level and physicality to make his line mates better.

      There were at least two plays in three games that would have gotten second looks for supplemental discipline: jumping the young Lemieux and a completely unnecessary spearing

      A disappointing level of immaturity.

  • cberg

    Nice summary.

    Overall it was nice that the Flames have one of, if not the best prospect group of the four teams. The Oiler game was a toss-up even after a couple stinker goals. Of course they will argue no Puljujarvi, so a toss-up that we’ll have to leave to the BOA in the future.

    I also loved the style of play 5-5 as well as on the PK. It was aggressive and involving the D and hopefully represents what we’re going to see with the new coaching staff, to be mirrored in Stockton.

  • RickT

    I hope Tuulola gets a long look at camp. I know he needs some polish, but I have a soft spot.

    Such a big kid (babyfaced 6’2″, 220lbs!), great interview.

  • The Fall

    Lomberg on the other hand did everything we all HOPED that Tkachuch would do: effect the game, get under the oppositions skin, fight, hit, and most notably score. His shot that got passed Demko was fantastic. …obviously he does not have Matt’s ceiling, but his attitude and effort is light years ahead of our top prospect.

    His heads up play caused havoc for the other team, causing off-sides, rushed passes, and turnovers.

    His play was impressive at last year’s Young Stars as well. The difference this year being that his mechanics are better. He skates more efficiently and plays every shift with confidence.

    Not only that, he was an obvious leader on the ice, constantly barking at his teammates when their body language slumped, and sparking momentum after goals against.

    Speaking to Connroy on Sunday: “…we have got to get Lomberg some pre-season games!”

    Not only does he get the Josh Jooris award: he’s likely to push for Ferland’s roll on the team.

    FN guys all lament the loss of Paul Byron… how about this guy killing penalties and actually scoring on breakaways; AS WELL AS, hitting, protecting his teammates, and mouthing off everyone. Lomberg slants the ice towards the other’s net.

    • Stan

      1) Are you saying that Tkachuk didn’t do any of the following:

      A) Effect the games
      B) Get under the oppositions skin
      C) Hit
      D) Score

      Because he definitely did all of those things in this tournament, what the hell did you watch? To say that Lombergs attitude and effort is light years ahead of Tkachuk is just ridiculous too. Especially because if you actually watched the games you would have known that the biggest flaw in Tkachuks game was that he was trying to do TOO much. So to criticize his effort level is just asinine.

      2) Lomberg was great this tournament and deserves a longer look at camp but to basically annoit him to the team (and in replace of Ferly) is way too premature. We havnt even seen him against NHL players yet and you think he’s better than Ferland and Byron? Pump the brakes bud.

      • The Fall

        The biggest effect Tkachuck had was allowing Huska to get a good look at the PK unit. … interference call 150 feet from his own net in a 3-3 tie with less than 10mins on the board…?! Notice how he was benched in OT?

        Not doubting his effort to be a difference maker, but his decisions were atrocious.

        I sat behind the bench for every game; i was even sober for most of them…

        ///

        I have no doubt that Lomberg played himself into the call-up conversation this year.

  • reidja

    For me, there is no question that MT had an atrocious 3rd game of this tournament. Give aways, bad penalties, benched for stretches, demoted down the lineup, and that take away from Carroll was effing embarrassing for MT. All that said, there is no way the Flames brass has made up their mind based on this tournament. I bet he has a (very short) window to respond to the criticism he’ll receive after these shenanagins and come to camp ready to learn and prove himself with some humility.

    He was trying to look a step ahead of all the other kids at the tourney and ended up trying to do too much and looked incredibly selfish. His attitude coming into camp is up to him and entirely correctable. We’ll see, but another year in the O will be no surprise at this point.