The introduction of the All-Canadian North division always held the promise of renewed divisional rivalries, and Matthew Tkachuk appears to be growing more irritated with every shift.
It hasn’t been a great week-and-a-half for the Calgary Flames’ forward and it only got worse on Thursday night against the scorching-hot Montreal Canadiens.
To briefly recap: At the end of Tuesday’s night contest against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tkachuk snapped when Jake Muzzin innocuously floated a puck towards him just after the final buzzer sounded. Tkachuk, who was kneeling in the corner, got up and charged directly towards Muzzin after being struck by the puck, before referees intervened between both parties. The 23-year-old proceeded to throw a temper tantrum, knocking over a few Gatorade bottles, before heading to the locker room as his teammates watched on.
Calgary entered Thursday’s contest after being swept in a two-game series by Toronto and it hardly fared any better against Montreal. Trailing 4-0 in the third period, Tkachuk got tangled up with Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot in front of the net, in a routine sequence, as the Flames awaited an upcoming power play.
Tkachuk’s temper reached its boiling point but fighting Chiarot - who had previously been involved in nine bouts, including an opening night tilt against Maple Leafs forward Wayne Simmonds - isn’t the best decision, and the Canadiens’ defenseman handled him easily.
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This isn’t Tkachuk’s first controversy this season and it probably won’t be his last. In the first of two losses to the Maple Leafs last Sunday, Tkachuk fell on Toronto’s backup goaltender Jack Campbell during a heated puck battle. Campbell was subsequently ruled out for “weeks” with a leg injury Tuesday, and both Tkachuk, along with Flames head coach Geoff Ward vehemently rejected any notion of a dirty play, or intention to injure the Maple Leafs’ goaltender.
Tkachuk’s fight was likely a valiant attempt to motivate his team and though the Flames tried to claw back, the Canadiens held on for a 4-2 victory.
One can only imagine that Tkachuk is waiting for his horrible, no good, very bad week to end.
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