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Toffoli trade paying early dividends for Flames

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Two weeks after the Calgary Flames acquired Tyler Toffoli, the move made well in advance of the NHL trade deadline looks like a steal.

With another pair of goals in a big 7-3 win over the Minnesota Wild on Saturday, the sniper doubled his total with the Flames. He now has four goals and five points in a half-dozen contests with his new team.

It’s fair to say the Calgary Flames are enjoying the return on their investment. And that Toffoli has adjusted quickly to his surroundings and system.

“He’s comfortable,” Flames head coach Darryl Sutter said on Saturday night.

“He’s a real consistent player. You look at it, he’s going to score every, what, three games? He’s done that his whole career, and he’s done that at critical times – meaning at playoff time. (Comfort is) not a concern at all.”

It helped that Toffoli had a number of familiar faces to join when he arrived in Calgary. He was picked up at the airport by good buddy Milan Lucic, but Toffoli had previously played with a number of others. Like Lucic, Brad Richardson and Trevor Lewis are former Los Angeles Kings. Goaltender Jacob Markstrom and defenceman Chris Tanev were together with Toffoli in Vancouver. Associate coach Kirk Muller also had him in Montreal.

Of course, other players knew him well enough from playing against him, too.

Toffoli living up to expectations

“It’s kind of exactly what we were expecting, and more,” Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk said Saturday. “Big goals.”

Including the first of two on Saturday, with Toffoli netting the tying goal a little past the halfway mark of the first period.

“That goal (on Saturday). I know we scored seven but that first one was huge to get the momentum back,” Tkachuk said. “It was a great shot.”

Toffoli’s contributions go beyond the offence and his responsibilities have increased each game. His minutes have climbed through special teams play after sitting out on those units initially. He joined the powerplay and assisted on Tkachuk’s go-ahead goal barely a minute after his own for his first point on the man advantage with the Flames.

His former team hits Calgary on Thursday. The Canadiens have surged lately under new head coach Marty St. Louis but it’s still likely only one will be going to the playoffs.

“It’s definitely one of the closer groups that I’ve ever been a part of, and it’s only been seven or 10 days,” Toffoli said. Nobody corrected him on the timeline.

“It’s been fun. Winning’s fun. So hopefully we can just keep doing that.”

Tkachuk believes Toffoli will be a big part in making that happen.

“He’s done it, and he’s done it at playoff time, which is important for us,” Tkachuk said. “Our goal is to get there. He’ll be a critical part of us getting there and what we do in the playoffs.”

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