Calgary Flames’ Matthew Tkachuk aims to prove how high his ceiling is
Article content continued
Heading into Thursday’s opener against the Winnipeg Jets (6 p.m. MT, Sportsnet West/Sportsnet 960 The Fan), there will surely be a considerable amount of attention paid to Tkachuk’s perceived antagonistic side.
The Jets were livid at Tkachuk during the teams’ best-of-five qualifying series last year, accusing him of intentionally bringing his skate blade down on the back of centre Mark Scheifele’s leg. Most neutral observers saw the play as an innocent accident, but there is likely plenty of bad blood lingering.
That the Flames eliminated the Jets in four games will only add to the animosity, and Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck even said Wednesday that he hopes his teammates use the series as motivation heading in Game 1 of the season.
For his part, Tkachuk doesn’t expect to be a target against the Jets, but he’s expecting there to be some emotional carryover from last year’s series.
“I’d say there probably will be. I’d say any time you play a team in playoffs one team always comes out on top and one team always goes home,” Tkachuk said. “That sits with the one team for all of summer and I expect them not to be happy with the way it went for them in the playoffs last year.
“For us, we’re expecting to come in there and play that physical and demanding type of hockey we played in the summer and try to beat them on the scoreboard and try to beat them physically.
“I don’t think (he’ll be a target). It depends who you ask, but I’m expecting to go out there and whatever happens, happens. I’m just excited to get back playing and I expect them to be fired up and not happy with the way things went for them over the summer.”
Flames fans may not have the opportunity to attend games at the Scotiabank Saddledome this season, but they will have the chance to get in on some 50/50 action.
On Wednesday, the Calgary Flames Foundation announced that the online 50/50 program will be back for the 2021 regular season, with tickets on sale between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. for every single Flames gameday, both home and away.
Tickets will be available at www.calgaryflames.com/5050.