2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs
‘Truly Elite’: Matthew Tkachuk Comes Through (Again) for the Florida Panthers
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SUNRISE — When it matters most, Matthew Tkachuk shows exactly why the Florida Panthers went all-in to bring him to South Florida last summer.
One would think it would be hard to top his Game 5 overtime winner to keep the Panthers alive against the record-breaking Boston Bruins.
Only he made his intentions to go even further upon arriving back in the Florida locker room at the Boston Garden.
“Boys, remember this room,” he said in a video posted by the team. ”We’ll be back here for 7.”
Hey, he was not wrong.
Guess where the Panthers are flying to on Saturday?
Tkachuk led Florida into the fight in Game 6 and came out with another standout performance.
Not only did he end with two goals and three points, but his third-period heroics tied the score and helped the Panthers force a Game 7 against the record-setting Bruins with a 7-5 win.
“Everybody likes that,” Anton Lundell said of Tkachuk’s confidence and leadership.
“You know what he wants and you work hard to give everything you have towards the goal. He pushes us every day and he is one of the leaders on our team and we want to follow him and step up as well.”
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Tkachuk pounced in a moment the Panthers appeared to be dead in the water.
The rest of the team followed his lead.
It looked liked Jake DeBrusk sank any momentum Florida built when he scored on a shorthanded chance with 9:38 remaining to give the Bruins a 5-4 lead.
That lead lasted all of 27 seconds.
Tkachuk ended up stuffing his own rebound home after picking up a feed from Lundell at the front of the net to tie the game at 5, setting off a huge celebration and again helping bring his team back into the fight.
“That was the most challenging one because a shorthanded goal in a game that important can cripple you,” coach Paul Maurice said.
“If that was the first time we’ve seen Matthew do something like that, we would say ‘Oh, what a great time to step up.’ Except it’s almost routine for him. He has the ability to stay focused in these games.
“He’s had kind of an ascension into that truly elite category of player and he keeps reinforcing it in the playoffs.”
After having a season which pushed him to the forefront of the MVP conversation — a 40-goal, 109-point season where he helped pull the Panthers into the playoffs in the first place — Tkachuk has continued to play up to that standard in the playoffs.
Tkachuk now has five goals and 10 points in the first six games of this series, ranking second in the league in both categories.
He is two points away from tying Carter Verhaeghe for most ever by a Florida player in a single postseason series set last year against the Capitals.
Many of those points have been scored in critical situations where the Panthers needed him the most.
“There are moments in my job where I am just truly a fan,” Maurice said. “It brings you back to your fandom of the game; Of ‘Oh my God, these guys are so good’.”
Tkachuk’s combination of skill and grit has helped the Panthers grind the Bruins down as they have climbed back from a 3-1 deficit.
His unique reputation as an agitator and a bonafide talent has made him a known headache for opponents for years.
When he suddenly appeared on the market last summer, Florida GM Bill Zito leapt at the chance to get him — and gave Calgary a king’s ransom to do so.
Did he overpay? It honestly did not look like it then and it certainly does not look like it now.
Tkachuk has been making good on Florida bringing him since Day 1. He has only added to it since actually joining the Panthers.
“When he came here, everybody knew what kind of player he was,” Lundell said.
“It has been a pleasure to see him every day and, of course, have him on our team. He brings so much to the team on the ice, off the ice and in the locker room.
“Overall, everyone’s happy.”
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS, ROUND 1
BOSTON BRUINS (ATL1) VS. FLORIDA PANTHERS (WC2)
GAME 7 (Series Tied 3-3)
- When: Sunday, 6:30 p.m.
- Where: Boston Garden
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, TNT
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Playoff History (Florida leads 1-0): Panthers 4-1, 1996 (first round)
- First Round Schedule — Game 1: @Boston 3, Florida 1; Game 2: Florida 6, @Boston 3; Game 3: Boston 4, @Florida 2; Game 4: Boston 6, @Florida 2; Game 5: Florida 4, @Boston 3 (OT); Game 6: @Florida 7, Boston 5; Game 7: at Boston, Sunday, 6:30 (BSF, TNT).
- Regular Season Series (Tied 2-2): @Boston 5, Florida 3 (Oct. 17); @Florida 5, Boston 2 (Nov. 23); @Boston 7, Florida 3 (Dec. 19); @Florida 4, Boston 3 OT (Jan. 28)
- Last Season: Boston won 2-1
- All-time Regular Season Series: Boston leads 60-38-6, 6 ties
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The Panther’s version of Himmy Butler
Mr playoffs. Jimmy’s the man!
Think you meant Jimmy Butler, and the Heat did knock off the top team in the NBA regular season during their first round, so…..
It’s a nickname for Jimmy
And we have him for eight more years, and those will most likely be his highest producing, peak years, imo that trade will go down as one of the biggest steals in NHL history, and when you look at the point production of all the players involved and what they have brought to the table since the trade, it’s not even close.
Add on top of that how badly Huby’s contract is likely to age. And that deal of his is pretty much buyout proof.
A much as everyone loves Huberdeau, he knew everyone loved him. He had the Panthers painted into a corner. Was he going to take the 5×10 the Panthers probably would have offered him? No. He wanted 8 years and he could have made things very difficult as the season wore on. Would the Panthers have traded him at the deadline in the middle of a race? When TKA came available, the Panthers went above-and-beyond to get him. Not only did they get a missing piece, it took care of a problem no one could speak of moving forward.
How envious do you think the folks in Calgary are watching what Matthew is doing in the playoffs right now?
Now what do they do about a clearly regressing Ekblad.
Unfortunately, Aaron has a pretty airtight no trade clause, the only thing that’s going to relieve us of his, eh talents, is his retirement, and I don’t see that happening. His contract has absolutely become an albatross, he is no longer top pairing talent yet it’s still one of the highest paid defenseman in the league, that is one contract that quite frankly he never lived up to. Maybe we can tempt him to be traded to Detroit as that is his hometown team, he’s an Ontario boy, but short of a major injury , we’re stuck with him.
Lets hope he heals from all these injuries.He has the heart but his body is betraying him.I think he really tries but his skating ability has left him.Anyone like orlov as a defenceman pickup.He is a UFA next year and makes well under 2 million.
yeah you can tell he’s still wants to do it but all the injuries over the years just catching up to him