Upon learning about James Neal‘s four-goal game in Edmonton’s win on Tuesday, it was only natural to think of Milan Lucic, the player Neal was traded for this past summer.
Conveniently enough, Lucic’s Calgary Flames were in action as well on Tuesday. While Neal’s Oilers beat the Islanders 5-2, Lucic’s Flames fell 4-3 in overtime to the Los Angeles Kings.
James Neal after three games with Oilers: six goals, including four on Tuesday.
Milan Lucic after three games with Flames: zero points, but plenty of violence.
Indeed, it seems like Lucic is embracing the idea of being the Flames’ big bad/enforcer. He already came into Tuesday’s game with 21 penalty minutes, and added five PIM thanks to quite the rumble with Kurtis MacDermid of the Kings, as you can see in the video above this post’s headline. Lucic also delivered six hits during his 13:07 TOI.
If you want to strain the limits of credulity, you could argue that Lucic’s fight “fired up” the Flames. After all, the Kings were up 3-0 when that fight happened, and Calgary stormed back to tie things up 3-3 and send the action to overtime.
But don’t kid yourself; the Flames squeezed a point out of another contentious Calgary – Los Angeles clash because of Matthew Tkachuk.
That actually brings us to the other storyline of that overtime squabble: the boiling blood feud between Tkachuk and Drew Doughty.
While the two get nasty at times, both on the ice and off of it, there have also been moments where you can argue that they’re mutual disgust is driving them to even higher levels than normal. Tkachuk was splendid during Tuesday’s game, scoring two goals and an assist while being a menace with seven hits.
I’m still not totally sure Tkachuk wasn’t guilty of a high-stick while he was securing the puck for that goal, but either way, it was a stupendous display of hand-eye coordination (and also an obnoxious display of mouthpiece-dangling, a Tkachuk trademark):
This time around, Doughty got the last laugh, however.
Along with generating two assists, Doughty scored the power-play game-winner in overtime, and then cupped his hand to his ear to the audience as if he were Hulk Hogan during one of his more heelish runs:
So, the Lucic – Neal feud (that neither explicitly asked for) feels a little one-sided so far, while the very personal Tkachuk – Doughty rivalry could go back and forth. At this rate, they might need a cage match to settle things.
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James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.