Flames need to unleash feisty Tkachuk to flip script on losing streak

When the final buzzer went on the last meeting between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames, Jake Muzzin flipped the puck at Matthew Tkachuk’s chest, Tkachuk flipped a lid and the Flames’ solid start got flipped on its head.

Now the Flames can’t seem to do a flipping thing right.

Mired in a three-game losing streak that has raised all-too-familiar questions about the team’s character, work ethic and coaching, the sixth-placed Flames are in search of a spark to rally a sagging squad.

Enter Tkachuk.

On Saturday, he backed up his pregame promise to do what he could to drag the team back into the fight, leading the team in hits, shots and emotion despite the absence of Zack Kassian in the Edmonton Oilers lineup as a target.

Team engagement wasn’t an issue that night. The 7-1 loss was.

The Leafs announced Muzzin won’t be in the lineup Monday night due to a facial fracture, ending the possibility any lingering frustration from the flip could inject emotion into the Flames’ repertoire.

Shortly after the Flames’ two losses to the Leafs, the team held a players-only meeting in Montreal that has produced disturbing yet unsubstantiated whispers that Tkachuk was urged to tone things down.

If, in fact, the heartbeat and future captain of this team was told anything of the sort it would explain why the Flames are where they are.

This team needs more players to get their noses…

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