Beefed-up Flames relish the rough and tumble, shrug off Klingberg’s empty threat

Dallas Stars defenceman John Klingberg (3) checks Calgary Flames left wing Matthew Tkachuk (19) as Flames centre Elias Lindholm (28) looks on during first period NHL playoff hockey action in Calgary, Tuesday, May 3, 2022. (Jeff McIntosh/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

CALGARY – The irony was pretty rich when John Klingberg punctuated his team’s Game 1 loss to Calgary with a threat.

“He’s acting a little tougher than he is,” said Klingberg of his fight with Rasmus Andersson that got them both kicked out of the game as a secondary scrap.

“We’re going to go after him.”

Ask yourself this: who is acting a little tougher than he is, when a skilled defenceman with just two career fights and 57 hits to his credit utters a decree like that?

Darryl Sutter, amongst others, shrugged it off Wednesday, one day after the dust settled on the Flames’ 1-0 series-opening win over Klingberg’s Stars.

“Whatever, right?” shrugged Sutter, unable to suppress a laugh when reflecting on the tussle between two lads with five career fights between them.

“I don’t think them guys are going to be fighting each other again this series.”

His advice to his breakout blueliner, who allegedly has a target on his back?

“Just play,” he said. “It’s playoffs. Guys get hit. It’s the way it works. Guys that don’t get hit usually lose.”


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Klingberg took a few hellacious blasts from Matthew Tkachuk to open the series, prompting the veteran power-play quarterback to get swept up in the emotion of a period-ending scrum that saw him drop the gloves first for a fight neither defenceman could have fathomed would get them tossed.

Lesson learned.

Klingberg, who was the first to point out postgame that he’s not tough, may just be in line for another lesson as early as Thursday night.

“First of all, I don’t really know what that means, ‘going after somebody,’” said Tkachuk Wednesday. “But I think we have enough guys who can handle themselves quite well.

“That (threat) is not really in the cards for me to worry about. That’s their, I wouldn’t even say ‘their’ problem, more his problem. But I didn’t have a problem with what Ras did. 

“I thought he did a good job sticking up for himself. He can handle himself just fine. What he did last night was great.”

Given the nuclear deterrents on Calgary’s roster, Klingberg’s threat Tuesday was emptier than his club’s scoresheet.

After all, the beefed-up Flames relish the rough and tumble of confrontations like these.

For an example, see last week’s game in Nashville.

“I think as a team we’ve got a lot of team toughness and pack mentality – we like to stick up for one another and play that hard style,” said Tkachuk, of an approach that has resonated around the league the first two nights of playoff hockey. “There’s not any guys on the team that are afraid of that. We’ve done that all year.

“We’ve said it a bunch, how close of a team we are, but I think we’ve done a good job showing that as well, which is just as important.”

The Flames chose not to make Andersson available to the media Wednesday, as the club would prefer he isn’t tempted to respond verbally.

You can bet Andersson, who is amongst league leaders in chirping, would have had a hard time letting Klingberg have the last word. 

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He certainly won’t let any of Klingberg’s theories slide when the two return to the ice for Game 2 Thursday.  

Tkachuk clearly wasn’t willing to back down as the Stars circled for revenge following the second hit on Klingberg.

“I hit their defenceman and I was kind of getting looked at differently,” smiled Tkachuk, when asked to describe what led to his punchup with Michael Raffl. 

“I got my feet taken out from under me (by Raffl), which didn’t make me happy. I didn’t really care who it was at that point. I had a switch, and was pretty much swimming for 90% of the fight. Finally got a grip at the end. Did a pretty good job dodging a couple missiles, except the last one.”

The C of Red roared its approval, incited by Tkachuk’s arm-waving encouragement.

The Andersson/Klingberg bout followed immediately, leaving the fans abuzz during the first intermission as they found out both defenders were done for the night, but that Raffl was handed an extra two minutes.

Yet another galvanizing moment for a surging Flames group.

“It’s the good thing about our team, I feel like we can play any style,” said Tkachuk, who also drew rave reviews for helping his line pin the Stars in their end for the final 30 seconds.

“Whether it’s big and physical, high scoring, low scoring – we’ve had a few 1-0 games this year, a few nine goal games, and everything in between,” said Tkachuk, who set up Elias Lindholm’s early power play winner, the game’s only goal in a match that saw each team awarded five man advantages.

“Whatever comes, we’ll be ready for it.”

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