Gamblers should be able to find an over/under on the number of times Matthew Tkachuk is booed when the Calgary Flames hit the ice against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday. Or maybe a longest hiss duration prop bet. Either way, take the over.
Players experienced muffled silence in the playoff bubble in 2020 and during last year’s condensed NHL season without fans in the building. It’s been a long time since the Flames have felt the full intensity of a packed house in the regular season.
“As a hockey player you want to play in front of fans,” said Sean Monahan, who looks healthy after his hip surgery. “It’s fun to play in front of a sold-out crowd. I think the first game we played without fans, it really stood out. You get used to it but it was never the same.”
Tkachuk was more descriptive about the loss over the past year and a half.
“I think I noticed simple stuff in warmups when there’s no signs or people on the glass. Our first game last year was in Winnipeg and we went into overtime. That’s a time when fans are going crazy, and it was pretty dead,” said Tkachuk. “I think that’s when I first realized it. It sucked.”
Calgary Flames entering hostile territory
“I’m excited to play in front of a full house again. I hope every game is sold out. That’s what we’ve been waiting for and I’m sure the fans have been waiting for, for a year and a half. I know we’re ready to elevate our games.”
One player who took a huge leap forward last year in spite of the silence from the empty seats is Noah Hanifin. The Flames defenceman acknowledges that players can feed off the energy within a rink and is looking forward to the start of another BOA.
“There’s just so much emotion,” he said. “It’s a totally different atmosphere when you have a crowd there.”
New to the Calgary Flames this year, defenceman Nikita Zadorov will experience his first BOA – Tkachuk boos and all.
“I think he likes it,” Zadorov said of the Tkachuk treatment. “It gets him going.”
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