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WELCOME MATT!

Tkachuk returns to Flames lineup after serving two-game suspension in time for tilt with Blues

by TY PILSON @typilson / calgaryflames.com

"I'm back," Matthew Tkachuk stated simply.

And it couldn't come at a better time for the Flames.

Rookie winger Matthew Tkachuk will return to the Flames lineup after sitting out a two-game suspension for a hit on Kings defenceman Drew Doughty when they take on the Blues in St. Louis Saturday night (5 p.m., City).

The Flames have lost both games that Tkachuk sat out, their first two-game string of defeats since Jan. 21-24.

Tkachuk said it's been difficult to watch from the sidelines during losses to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday and the Nashville Predators Thursday.

"It's been tough, especially when you don't come out on the right side," said Tkachuk. "But you know, I'm not changing my game at all nor am I ever going to think about what happened during the play. I mean, it's a hockey play, so I've done that a million times and I'm going to continue to do it a million more times."

The youngster will slot back onto his line with Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik, a trio that has been the team's best line at times this season.

"No question, he's been a big part of our team and you guys all know that," said coach Glen Gulutzan. "And to get him back and going with his line is a good step for us."

Gulutzan also addressed Tkachuk's gritty style of play, saying he wants him to continue to play his physical brand of hockey.

"No, you don't want him (to change his style)," said Gultzan. "He plays hard, he plays in the hard areas and he plays a gritty game. So, ya, learn from it but keep doing what you do to make yourself successful."

Despite dropping two games, Gulutzan said nobody in the Flames dressing room - least of all him - is panicking.

"I think we've been playing good hockey, we've been getting good goaltending and the guys have been real focused for a long period of time," he said. "You know, it's our first setback in awhile but we'll bounce back. You know, the game last night (against the Predators) I thought was a real good hockey game against a real good hockey team and they came out on the right side of it."

Gulutzan pointed to the club's powerplay - which was 0-5 against the Preds and 0-12 in their last five games - as an area that needs to improve to get back in the win column.

"Our special teams have to be better," he said. "I think that if you look at both nights, the Washington and the Nashville game, special teams came into play in both games and I think we get that a little ironed out here we can bounce back."

When it comes to how they can improve their extra-man woes, Gulutzan was quick with the solution.

"We're just not shooting enough, we're being too fancy," he said. "You just got to a volume of pucks on the net. Just get motion and put pucks on the net. And, hey, last night we could have had one on the powerplay or two there that went off posts and they didn't go in."

 

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