There’s no 1960s-style boxing promotor declaring it the “Clash in Calgary,” “Saddledome Smackdown” or even simply billing it as “Klingberg-Andersson II.”
And any hyperbole certainly won’t be coming from the Calgary Flames locker room as a response to Dallas Stars defenceman John Klingberg and his comments about “going after” fisticuffs foe Rasmus Andersson following their taffy-pull in Game 1.
“I didn’t have a problem with what Raz did, thought he did a good job of sticking up for himself,” Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk declared on the off-day sandwiched between Game 1’s 1-0 victory on Tuesday and Thursday’s Game 2.
“There’s not one guy on the team that is afraid of that. I think we’ve done that all year and I think we’ve said it a bunch how close of a team we are, but I think we’ve done a good job of showing that, as well, which is just as important.”
For those who missed it, a pair of donnybrooks capped an electric opening 20 minutes of hockey to the series.
Tkachuk laid a thumping of a hit on Klingberg in the dying seconds of the frame, prompting an intervention from Stars forward Michael Raffl. The two went toe-to-toe before Andersson and Klingberg delivered the sequel — a one-sided thumping that prompted the ejection of both in the first intermission.
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Klingberg didn’t take kindly to how his bout shook down.
He was less than shy to share that opinion postgame, too.
“I mean, I’m not saying I’m a tough guy, but he’s acting tougher than he is,” Klingberg said. “I feel like he’s the one guy there in the scrum, he doesn’t have a guy. I’m standing there with (Blake) Coleman, and he’s standing there shaking his gloves to me, like, ‘You wanna go against me,’ probably the least fighter on our team on the ice there. I’m skating over to him, I’m dropping my gloves and I want to go and he’s just standing there, two seconds, and then all of a sudden he drops his gloves.
“He’s acting a little tougher than he is. We’re going to go after him.”
Presumably, there’ll be a target on Andersson in Game 2.
Though Tkachuk might ask for further clarification beforehand.
“I don’t even know what that means — going after somebody,” he countered. “But I think we have enough guys that can handle ourselves outside of Raz, who can handle himself quite well.”
Andersson, now, has three fighting majors to his credit over the course of a four-year NHL career. Klingberg, a veteran of 500+ NHL games, sits at two.
Flames coach Darryl Sutter, understandably, isn’t worried about seeing a second go-round.
“Whatever…I don’t think them guys are going to be fighting each other again in the series,” he said, bluntly. “Just play. Its playoffs. Guys get hit. That’s the way it works. Guys that don’t get hit usually lose.”
The mere fact the Stars might be buzzing around Andersson plays perfectly into the defenceman’s game.
There’s no doubting the amount of jawing that goes into his game, after all.
It’s a part of his charm.
“He’s a competitor,” said Noah Hanifin, who forms the top pair alongside Andersson. “He likes to get engaged in that type of game sometimes but I don’t it fazes him. It doesn’t really affect the way he plays. I think sometimes it makes him a little better when he gets into those little scrums, sometimes.
“It gets him into the game. So it’s not a bad thing.”
It took him, and Klingberg, out of Game 1.
It’ll put Andersson in the spotlight for Game 2.
“I think as a team, we’ve got a lot of team toughness and kind of a pack mentality where we like to stick up for each other and play that hardstyle,” Tkachuk said.
“Raz plays every big situation and plays the most minutes on our team for good reason. He’s had an outstanding year. But yeah, he can handle himself just fine. I thought what he did last night was great and we’re going to need more of that energy going forward.”