The January 29th match-up between the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames might just be the most anticipated game of the NHL regular season to date. In a league that doesn’t see nearly as much heated animosity as it used to, Zack Kassian appears to be out for a measure of revenge as he’s hinted Matthew Tkachuk needs to answer the bell when he comes calling.
Unfortunately, it won’t be that black and white for Kassian should he choose to go looking for a fight that night.
Based upon recent comments by Calgary’s tough guy, Milan Lucic, it won’t be Tkachuk who answers the bell — at least not if Lucic has anything to say about it.
Speaking with the media, Lucic sent an indirect warning to his former Oilers teammate when he said, “I had fun being his teammate for three years, but push come to shove Matt is my teammate and I’ll do whatever I have to to step up for him.”
Team Unity Overrides Taking Responsibility
While not confirmed, there were whispers the his Calgary teammates weren’t terribly pleased Tkachuk refused to step up when Kassian was looking for the Flames star to answer for his three nasty hits. But, with time passing, a ruling by the NHL that the hits weren’t out of line and with Kassian now proclaiming his intent to go looking for trouble, the Flames have become a team that sees things in a different light. At the end of the day, no one will take liberties with their players, even if, in some way, they feel Tkachuk should have taken a little responsibility for stirring the pot.
All that’s said, it’s not Tkachuk’s job to fight and Lucic understands these type of scenarios is part of the reason the Flames chose to trade for him. As he said himself, “When the time comes, whatever score needs to be settled will be settled.”
This Game Could Get Messy
Tkachuk hasn’t said much since that night but his teammates don’t mind addressing the topic. In fact, many believe he got the short end of the stick.
His feels he did his job and there are no lessons Tkachuk needs to learn and some of Tkachuk’s teammates are upset the linesman didn’t step in and that the NHL’s most notable pest was one missed shot away from a serious injury.
In Edmonton, the Flames can call foul all they want. Some of the Oilers players aren’t pleased with the way things went down and many believe the lack of respect Tkachuk showed as he took run after run at the same player isn’t acceptable. If the officials won’t protect a player, the players need to be allowed to protect themselves.
All of that equates to the potential for this game to get nasty.
“I know for a fact everybody’s got everybody’s back in this locker room. Talk is just talk,” said Lucic. And, maybe that ends up being all this will ever be. Don’t forget, these points are extremely important in a game that many will deem a must win for both sides. That has to be priority number one.
But, if emotions get high and if one player in particular gets caught up in looking to settle the score, it appears he’ll have no shortage of takers.
For me, the line matching just got a whole lot more interesting considering Lucic and Kassian on the ice at the same time won’t happen much naturally.
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