Matthew Tkachuk

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With bad blood boiling, Ducks and Flames preach discipline before series

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) The Calgary Flames and the Anaheim Ducks were the NHL’s two most-penalized teams this season. A week ago, the Flames’ captain seriously injured the Ducks’ best defenseman, leading to a third period featuring 106 combined penalty minutes.

So when these clubs meet in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs Thursday night, their leaders realize nobody will be lacking for motivational fire.

They’re more concerned about making sure their physical play is channeled in a productive direction.

Watch Ducks vs. Flames on NBC Sports

“We know the emotions are always going to be ramped up in a playoff series,” Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said Wednesday. “But if we can stay within the rules and play the right way, we’re going to give ourselves a much better chance, as opposed to the penalty parade that we’ve made with Calgary a few times during the season.”

Related: Ducks-Flames series heats up as Treliving rips Murray’s ‘asinine remarks

Those emotions still might be a bit raw when the Flames hit the ice at Honda Center, where their franchise hasn’t won in nearly 11 years.

The Ducks must begin the postseason without All-Star defenseman Cam Fowler because Calgary captain Mark Giordano delivered a knee-on-knee hit during the Flames’ visit to Anaheim last week .

“It was not intentional on my part,” Giordano said Wednesday before his first playoff appearance in 10 years. “Hopefully, Cam is OK, but I’m looking forward to this series and moving on. … We don’t want anything to slow us or our game down, so we’ve got to stay away from it. We’ve got to be emotional, but there’s a fine line in the playoffs.”

Ducks general manager Bob Murray was steamed when the NHL declined to discipline Giordano further, complaining that Giordano “has done this before.” Calgary GM Brad Treliving fired back shortly afterward, calling Murray’s comments “asinine.”

“Turn the page,” Carlyle said. “It’s over. Can’t change what happened. It’s done. Move on. There’s more important things on our plate than to worry about something that we have no control over at this point.”

Here are other things to watch when the Pacific Division rivals hit the ice for Game 1:

THE STREAK

As everybody in both dressing rooms knows by now, Calgary has lost 25 consecutive regular-season games at Honda Center in Anaheim since Jan. 19, 2004. It’s the longest losing streak in one building against one opponent in NHL history.

Yet the streak is slightly less dire from a postseason perspective: The Flames won a playoff game in Anaheim on April 25, 2006, beating Carlyle’s first Anaheim team – although the Ducks still won the next two home games and the series.

When the clubs met in the playoffs two years ago, the Ducks won three more home games. The numbers are stark for the Flames in Orange County, but Carlyle sees a clear downside to that dominance.

“To me, it’s a new slate,” Carlyle said. “This winning streak, it’s a good one for us. It’s a bad one for them. We understand that. But the bottom line is, streaks are going to get broken at some point. That’s the dangerous part for us.”

RANDY’S RETURN

Carlyle is back in the postseason with the Ducks on the 10th anniversary of leading them to their only Stanley Cup championship. He got the job back last spring after Bruce Boudreau’s Ducks flopped in the first round against Nashville, losing the first two games at home and then blowing a 3-2 series lead.

Anaheim lost Game 7 on home ice for the fourth consecutive season under Boudreau. Carlyle claims no magic formula for coaxing postseason poise out of largely the same core Ducks, but he’s hoping for a renewed sense of excitement after years of playoff disappointment.

“Enjoy the experience,” Carlyle told his players. “It’s going to be fun. These are exciting times. Don’t get caught up in the emotions. Just go out and play your game.”

FAMILIAR FOES

Anaheim routed Calgary in five second-round games in 2015 to earn a spot in the conference finals, but these Flames are bigger, tougher and more prepared for the experience under new coach Glen Gulutzan.

“We know what we’re in for, and we’re excited for the challenge,” said Johnny Gaudreau, the Flames’ leading scorer.

The Flames know all about Ryan Kesler, the Ducks’ agitating All-Star center of the shutdown defensive line likely to be deployed against Gaudreau.

The Ducks also know plenty about Matthew Tkachuk, the rampaging teenager whose physical game seems ideal for the postseason. Carlyle even played alongside Tkachuk’s father, Keith, for two seasons in Winnipeg in the early 1990s.

“I played with his dad, coached his dad, so I’ll ask (Keith Tkachuk) to discipline him,” Carlyle said with a laugh. “Well, if he’s as thick-headed as his dad, I don’t think it will work.”

No hearing scheduled for Giordano after Fowler hit

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Calgary captain Mark Giordano isn’t scheduled to face a disciplinary hearing for a hit that injured Ducks d-man Cam Fowler, an NHL spokesman confirmed on Wednesday.

The incident occurred in the third period of Anaheim’s 3-1 win over the Flames on Tuesday night. Giordano went knee-on-knee with Fowler, and wasn’t penalized on the play. Fowler crumpled to the ice and had to be helped off by teammates, and didn’t return.

“He came through the middle with a lot of speed and I was honestly coming across trying to make a hit on him and I got to watch the game, but I think our legs collided. I don’t know how bad, I just hope he’s OK,” Giordano said after the game, per Yahoo. “You don’t like to see guys get hurt. There was no intent to hurt him there.

“I was just trying to come across in a 2-1 game to try to stop him from getting to our net, trying to make a hit and the result was, I don’t know if our legs collided or not, I think they did and I hope it’s nothing too serious.”

Ducks blueliner Kevin Bieksa wasn’t happy with the hit. From the L.A. Times:

Bieksa said he didn’t get a good live view at the play but said, “It didn’t look clean. It didn’t sound clean.

“We’re a team that sticks up for each other. That’s always been one of our MOs. We’re a physical team. But you know what? We care about each other. We care about Cam. We don’t want to see a teammate on the ice, getting helped carried off, so we’re going to respond the way we did.”

The Giordano-Fowler hit was part of a nasty affair that boiled over in the third period:

— Shortly after that incident, Josh Manson fought Giordano, landing some heavy shots before they hit the ice.

— After throwing a huge hit on Matthew Tkachuk at the blue line, Ducks d-man Korbinian Holzer fought Matt Bartkowski, while a near line brawl broke out on the other side of the ice, with Ryan Kesler and Michael Frolik jousting. Bartkowski was given an instigator penalty and a game misconduct, as well.

— Holzer had been previously involved in a large scrum after he went after Micheal Ferland, who was given a misconduct.

— The two teams combined for 106 minutes in penalties in the final frame.

There is bad blood between the Ducks and Flames

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The Anaheim Ducks and Calgary Flames just might meet in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

What a match-up that could be.

There’s been bad blood between these teams at points already this season and that continued as they met again Tuesday, particularly during the third period in Anaheim.

First, let’s get to the score. The Ducks won 3-1, which pushes them closer to winning the Pacific Division. That’s also 25 straight regular season home wins for the Ducks over the Flames.

OK. Now to the animosity — and there was plenty of it:

— In the third period, Flames defenseman Mark Giordano caught Cam Fowler with a knee-on-knee hit. Fowler left the game and couldn’t put pressure on his right knee as he was helped off. There was no call on the play and Fowler didn’t return. That’s a huge concern for the Ducks, especially this close to the playoffs, although coach Randy Carlyle didn’t provide an update after the game.

“I hope he’s okay. You don’t like to see guys hurt. There was no intent there,” said Giordano.

— Shortly after that incident, Josh Manson fought Giordano, landing some heavy shots before they hit the ice.

— After throwing a huge hit on Matthew Tkachuk at the blue line, Ducks d-man Korbinian Holzer fought Matt Bartkowski, while a near line brawl broke out on the other side of the ice, with Ryan Kesler and Michael Frolik jousting. Bartkowski was given an instigator penalty and a game misconduct, as well.

— Holzer had been previously involved in a large scrum after he went after Micheal Ferland, who was given a misconduct.

— The two teams combined for 106 minutes in penalties in the final period.

The Ducks lead the Pacific with 101 points, while the Flames hold the second wild card spot in the West with 92 points. Nashville does have the same point total in the same amount of games played, but with two fewer regulation/overtime wins.

Apparently Matthew Tkachuk got a talking-to after antics vs. Doughty, Kings

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Look, the Calgary Flames knew what they were getting into when they drafted Matthew Tkachuk. Brian Burke even said an amusingly Brian Burke thing about it.

Still, when it comes to players who combine skill with pest-like behavior, there’s a balance that needs to be struck. Apparently the Flames franchise realizes that Tkachuk may have gone over the line regarding Drew Doughty and the Los Angeles Kings … and they addressed it.

“He’s been talked to,” Glen Gulutzan said on Thursday, according to the Calgary Sun. “I didn’t personally talk to him but I know what message has been delivered. It was a great learning lesson for him.”

Johnny Gaudreau went as far as to say that the distractions explain why the Flames lost. Assistant GM Craig Conroy agreed, believing that Tkachuk bashing Doughty for going to the media gave the Kings a little “extra life.”

The Flames are currently in action against the San Jose Sharks, with Gaudreau generating an early lead thanks to a great goal. With Calgary heading toward a likely postseason berth, it should be interesting to see how Tkachuk straddles the line from agitating opponents and his own teammates as tensions build in a playoff series.

And, hey, if nothing else, Tkachuk’s response gained Mike Milbury’s approval:

 

Milbury, Jones: Tkachuk walked the walk; Kings’ response was embarrassing

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The Los Angeles Kings got revenge on Matthew Tkachuk and the Calgary Flames on the scoreboard on Wednesday. But was that 4-1 win enough?

Mike Milbury and Keith Jones provided a lengthy “overtime” segment on NBCSN that brought about some really fascinating takes on the situation between Tkachuk and the Flames versus Drew Doughty and the Los Angeles Kings.

Watch the full video above, as it’s worth your time.

A few interesting lines if you’re (tsk tsk) skipping it:

Milbury: Believes that Doughty didn’t “do enough,” noting that star players sometimes have to stick up for themselves. On the other hand, Tkachuk showed that he can “walk the walk.”

He also gave the Kings a “C-, D+ if not worse” for their overall response. “Fight your own battles,” Milbury said of Doughty.

Jones disagreed to some extent, believing that Kings teammates won’t look at Doughty differently. But Jake Muzzin? He believes that Muzzin’s frequent defensive partner (at least over the years, maybe not this season) backing down from a fight was an embarrassment.

Spicy stuff.

For what it’s worth, Drew Doughty has one career fight (against Joe Thornton [!] in 2011-2) while Jake Muzzin’s lone bout came against Andrew Desjardins in 2012-13, according to Hockey Fights. Does that mean they shouldn’t have dropped the gloves on Wednesday? Milbury and Jones seem to believe that they should have answered the bell.

For more, check out a collection of the early violent moments and Tkachuk’s attempted shot at Doughty. The Kings win is summarized in greater detail here.