March 20, 2023

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Tyler Toffoli was obviously calling attention to his status as a preseason question mark.

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The Calgary Flames forward waited six months and 60 points, a new career high, to even mention it.

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By then, the answer was clear. Yes, Toffoli is a top notch talent.

“I know I did, but other people thought otherwise,” Toffoli told reporters after scoring four points – two counts plus a couple of assistants – in Thursday’s win in Vegas. (That’s not a typo. The Flames, thanks to a seven-goal onslaught, finally snapped a five-year, eight-game losing streak at the T-Mobile Arena.)

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“You know what? I’ve been doing this my whole career. People have doubted me at times and I’ve come out on top. I just want to keep going and make the playoffs and make some noise.”

People, of course, also asked this question. Maybe the Flames can’t be discounted yet.

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As they prepare for Saturday’s Saddledome clash with the Dallas Stars (8:00 PM, CBC/Sportsnet 960 The Fan), the locals are now just three points away from the final wildcard slot in the Western Conference. The Winnipeg Jets currently occupy the spot while the Nashville Predators – with three games to spare and seemingly undeterred by their status as a trade deadline day seller – are trying to ruin the spring for two Prairie fanbases. . (Saturday in Tennessee, the Jets and Predators will go head-to-head, and the Flames will just hope the game doesn’t turn out to be a 3-pointer this morning.)

“It shows that we can play anyone,” Toffoli told Sportsnet after a 7-2 thrashing of the Golden Knights, the top team in the Pacific Division standings. “Obviously we are fighting for our lives here and we need to win every game.

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“I think we should be proud of it.”

Tyler Toffoli celebrates his first goal Thursday night against the Vegas Golden Knights.
Tyler Toffoli celebrates his first goal Thursday night against the Vegas Golden Knights. Photo by Ethan Miller /Getty Images

While he won’t brag about his team’s personal accomplishments as they struggle to avoid an early exit, Toffoli already has a lot to be proud of.

Going back to September, when the Flames were declared Stanley Cup favorites, one of the burning questions was whether No. 73 would be up to the mark as a first lineman. Many wondered if the 30-year-old right winger is more suitable for riding in the middle six.

So far, he has responded with 28 goals and 60 points, which is the team’s best performance in both categories. (His center Elias Lindholm is second with 57 points.)

Kettle, a nickname that stems from his habit of standing with one hand on his hip, has been a bright spot throughout the season, a predictable presence for a team that has often been anything but a team.

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“Obviously it was pretty good and I was pretty consistent,” said Toffoli, whose previous offensive total was 58 with the Los Angeles Kings in 2015-16. “I came into the season to prove something and I’m doing my best to help the team win matches.”

Tyler Toffoli looks to redirect the puck past Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Antti Raant on October 22, 2022.
Tyler Toffoli looks to redirect the puck past Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Antti Raant on October 22, 2022. Al Charest / Postmedia

When the Flames take the W, Toffoli tends to play a big role.

A reminder of his contribution to Calgary’s four wins in the month of March…

  • He created a dramatic finish in Dallas, coming out on top in a breakaway with only 6.2 seconds left of regulation and overtime was looming.
  • The next night in Minnesota, after a stingy stoppage game by his buddy Jacob Markstrom, he found a five-hole game-breaker in the fourth round of shootouts.
  • Although he wasn’t among the lamplighters in the Ottawa Senators’ home ice attack, he earned an assist thanks to a timely count by Jonathan Huberdeau.
  • He made two appearances on Thursday in Vegas, scoring a goal in a powerful shot and then earning a rebound after his new linemate, Andrew Mangiapane, was denied in a rush. Toffoli added a couple of assistants to a first-star four-point performance.

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“He’s a scorer,” Markstrom praised in a Sportsnet 960 post-match interview with The Fan. “He scores big goals and he has done it all his career. Especially now when it comes to stretching, we really need a player like that to take it to the next level. He answers the phone in every game and produces. We’ll need him and everyone else to keep making serious progress here.”

“He’s the top scorer on our team,” reiterated Flames forward Blake Coleman when asked about Toffoli, who currently has 221 NHL career marks. “He has been consistent throughout the year, which is what you need. To get inside, we’ll need him to continue and the other guys to pull some weight.”


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