CALGARY — Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk hasn’t played since game two of the Calgary Flames series against the Dallas Stars, whenTkachuk was sandwiched between Jamie Benn and Jamie Oleksiak and appeared to take a blow to the head.
Since then, the Flames have lost two of three, including a pair of gut-wrenching overtime losses, leaving them down and teetering on the brink heading into Thursday night’s sixth game.
One more loss and the season is over and done.
Tkachuk, an inspired player who has a habit of doing whatever is necessary to win, gives the team a better chance of making it to game seven.
Flames interim head coach Geoff Ward didn’t say whether Tkachuk skated Thursday but also didn’t rule him out for game six.
“He is an option for tonight and we’ll see what he’s like at game time,” Ward said.
Even without Tkachuk in the lineup, a few of the Flames have stared down elimination and prevailed in the past.
Ward has had a lot of experience in elimination games. When he was with the Boston Bruins he was in six of them. He his team won five of them.
Ward says the key to playing must-win games is to relax.
“You need to be looking forward to the opportunity and get yourself ready to play,” Ward said earlier today.
“That’s all you need to understand is get to the game and put your best game on the ice. I think when that’s all you’re focusing on, it’s easy to prepare to play.”
Milan Lucic also brings a wealth of experience with him. He was with Ward for those elimination games in Boston and says you have to embrace games like this.
“You’ve got look forward to the challenge . You’ve got to embrace that it’s going to be a struggle and that it’s going to be hard,” Lucic said.
Defenceman Rasmus Andersson doesn’t have the elimination game experience of Lucic or Ward, but understands that you can’t be nervous playing in a game where a loss ends the season.
“For me personally I like to keep loose and just go out and try and enjoy the game,” Andersson said. “It’s a fun game and playoffs is what you look forward to all year – so you know, we just have to play hard and really go after them.”