Leo Komarov

Video: Laine hits 30 goals vs. Matthews and Leafs; Byfuglien battles Martin

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Patrik Laine might rub some people the wrong way with his matter-of-fact brand of swagger, but the Winnipeg Jets rookie can back up that talk.

Just look at how he performs against fellow Calder Trophy hopeful Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Back in October, Laine stole the show with a hat trick. He has a chance to do that again, but either way, with two goals in as many periods, Laine hit the 30-goal mark as a rookie. In February.

His 29th goal came less than five minutes into the game:

He then hit the big 3-0 in the dying seconds of the middle frame, though that was far from the only noteworthy moment of the clip above this post’s headline.

As you can see, there were bodies being thrown around, culminating with a brief bout between Dustin Byfuglien and Matt Martin. The earth may or may not have shook from such an altercation. It wasn’t the only example of violence between the two teams tonight.

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It’s been a nice milestone night for young Jets scorers, as Nikolaj Ehlers also scored his 20th goal of 2016-17.

That 30th goal came less than 30 seconds after Leo Komarov‘s second goal of the contest, putting Winnipeg up 4-3 heading into the third period. For all we know, the Jets might need even more from Laine tonight.

Gaudreau knows targeting won’t go away, so attention turns to Calgary’s response

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LOS ANGELES — This weekend will be a nice reprieve for Johnny Gaudreau.

The diminutive Calgary sniper won’t face many hacks, whacks, slashes or shadows when he participates in the league’s annual All-Star Game.

In fact, he probably won’t face any.

But when Gaudreau returns to the Flames and the regular season resumes, he’ll once again be subjected to targeting, something that’s become a major narrative this year.

“It’s part of the game,” Gaudreau said at Saturday’s All-Star media availability. “It’s not going to go away.

“It’s not going to be the first slash or the last slash I’ve taken. I’ll just play my game and try not to worry about it, try not to get frustrated.”

Just prior to this weekend’s festivities, the Gaudreau situation was front-and-center in Calgary.

After Toronto’s Leo Komarov blasted Gaudreau with a huge open-ice check, ex-Flames tough guy Brian McGrattan followed up a series of angry tweets by telling the Herald “sticking up for each other and being a team is crucial for morale,” adding “it goes so far in the dressing room.”

More, from the Herald:

“Those skilled players get enough abuse as it is as they’re against number one defensive pairings and the top checking line,” said McGrattan. “But with nobody sticking up for them, they’ll get that even more.

“He knows it’s going to happen again in the next week because teams know they can do whatever they want to this guy and nobody is going to do anything.”

The Komarov hit came just weeks after Anaheim center Ryan Kesler acknowledged he was intentionally targeting Gaudreau, and months after Johnny Hockey missed 10 games with a broken finger — which, per Flames GM Brad Treliving, happened on the 11th slash Gaudreau received in a game against Minnesota.

Treliving has emerged as an important figure in all this.

He’s clearly been displeased with how his star player has been treated — after the Wild game, Treliving acknowledged he spoke with NHL Director of Officiating Stephen Walkom — and, in the Herald piece mentioned earlier, Treliving said he was “looking at everything right now” in terms of adding toughness.

Gaudreau touched on his GM’s remarks.

“Brad’s obviously looking into a lot of things, but I don’t think that’s really my call to make,” he said. “The game’s changed today, with speed and skill. At times it’s smarter to have that out there, and sometimes it’s smart to have your toughness out there.”

The strange part with this dilemma that, on paper, Calgary has plenty of guys to answer the bell. The Flames have fought the sixth-most times in the NHL this year (20), and often dress the likes of Deryk Engelland, Garnet Hathaway and Micheal Ferland.

Another enforcer-type, Brandon Bollig, is with the club’s AHL affiliate in Stockton.

So perhaps Calgary’s response won’t be a transaction — perhaps it will guys already on the roster heeding the call to keep the files off Johnny Hockey.

“I don’t really want to complain about it or anything, but some teams like to give it to other players,” Gaudreau said. “At times there’s definitely frustration.”

With Gaudreau getting roughed up, Flames ‘looking at everything’ for toughness

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In late December, we wrote about Anaheim center Ryan Kesler targeting Johnny Gaudreau, and how Kesler was just the latest to take physical liberties with Calgary’s prized winger.

Last week, the trend continued when Toronto’s Leo Komarov blasted Gaudreau with a huge open-ice check.

The Komarov hit, again, led to questions about Calgary’s response to Gaudreau targeting.

This time, the queries came from ex-Flames tough guy Brian McGrattan, who followed up a series of angry tweets by telling the Herald “sticking up for each other and being a team is crucial for morale,” adding “it goes so far in the dressing room.”

Captain Mark Giordano did come to Gaudreau’s defense by jumping Komarov but, to hear McGrattan explain it, the Flames needed more of a response beyond that single instance.

And perhaps Giordano’s general manager agreed.

More, from the Herald:

“I think we have got people who are able to handle that (rough stuff) but I’m looking at everything right now,” said Treliving of the lack of toughness theory explaining his star’s struggles.

“No question, there’s less room on the ice because he’s put himself in the position of being a top player. I think (the physical abuse) has always been there in his career. People are going to play hard against him and I think that gets magnified when production is down.”

Treliving and coach Glen Gulutzan both pointed out during the team’s recent four-game swoon there has been no pushback.

The Flames dressed enforcer Brandon Bollig frequently last season, but waived him at the start of this year and dispatched him to the AHL, where he’s been ever since.

That’s left most of the pugilistic endeavors to a pair of tough guys in d-man Deryk Engelland, and energy forward Garnet Hathaway. Another energy guy, Micheal Ferland, hasn’t been afraid to drop the gloves either.

So it’s not like the Flames have a lack of guys willing to do the job.

But there certainly seems to be issue with when those guys choose to do it.

No hearings scheduled after wild Flames-Leafs game

None of the combatants from Monday’s incident-filled Toronto-Calgary game will face disciplinary hearings, an NHL spokesman confirmed this morning.

The two sides combined for 16 minor penalties across a nasty, chippy affair that included:

— Leafs forward Leo Komarov catching Johnny Gaudreau with a huge bodycheck.

— Flames captain Mark Gioradano quickly jumping Komarov in retaliation.

— A pair of Calgary youngsters, Sam Bennett and Matthew Tkachuk, accused of slew-footing.

The incident that drew the most attention was Komarov’s hit on Gaudreau. The diminutive Calgary winger looked to be in trouble after the check — requiring assistance off the ice — but went through concussion protocol and was cleared to return a short while after.

Komarov’s hit was deemed legal, and he didn’t receive a penalty on the play.

“I feel fine,” Gaudreau told the Calgary Herald following the game. “It’s part of hockey, you’re going to get hit every once in a while and with the concussion-test stuff, they want to make sure you’re alright.

“So I had to go in there and do that, and it was fine.”

 

 

Video: Giordano goes after Komarov following big hit on Gaudreau

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Johnny Gaudreau returned very soon after all of this, so at the moment, it seems like the Calgary Flames dodged a big bullet on Monday night.

That bullet came in the form of a big hit by Toronto Maple Leafs winger Leo Komarov, a check that did not prompt a penalty, but is inspiring plenty of debate on social media. The Athletic’s James Mirtle puts it well, at least for those of us on the fence: “as with a lot of Komarov hits, it’s in a grey area.”

Again, the best news is that Gaudreau was able to return (though sometimes issues like these demand a “To be continued”), shocking quite a few.

There’s some debate about the legality of the hit, but most seem perplexed that Mark Giordano‘s response didn’t prompt fighting majors. Instead, they were merely whistled for roughing.

You can watch the full sequence in the video above. Here’s a GIF of the fight roughing specifically:

At the moment, the Leafs hold a commanding 3-0 lead. Maybe the Flames will use that sequence to start a comeback?

Update: Nope, no comeback. Instead, another humbling loss for Calgary, this time 4-0. The silver lining is that, again, it seems like Gaudreau might be OK.