SUNRISE — In his pregame chat with the media Saturday afternoon, Florida Panthers coach Paul Maurice was jokingly asked if Matthew Tkachuk would be in the lineup.
“We’re going to see if we can squeeze him in,” Maurice said, playing along.
Yeah, the Panthers are not going anywhere without Tkachuk these days — literally and figuratively.
As Florida continues driving down the road toward a playoff spot, Tkachuk has been behind the wheel.
It has been impressive to those not only watching from afar but to those up close as well.
“Chucky is just fantastic,” said Aaron Ekblad, who drove Tkachuk to the airport on Sunday perhaps to guarantee he was on the plane.
“From what he brings to the room and on to the ice, he is, simply one of the most valuable players I have ever seen.”