Maple Leafs divulge plans for Matthew Tkachuk

The Leafs know they'll have their hands full with him.



There has been plenty of excitement so far in the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and we're just getting started. The Toronto Maple Leafs finally got the monkey off their backs, winning a postseason series for the first time since 2004 by taking down the rival Tampa Bay Lightning. But their battles in the Sunshine State are just beginning, as they'll be taking on the upstart Florida Panthers who shocked the world with their seven game upset over the 65-win Boston Bruins.

And ahead of their first ever postseason matchup against one another, the Leafs know that one of their keys to victory will be containing Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk, who tallied 11 points in his team's seven game win over the Bruins. 

"Well, there is a lot to handle there in terms of how he plays," said head coach Sheldon Keefe of Tkachuk. "When I say how he plays, I mean that he’s so dynamic in that he can hurt you on the rush, he can make a play, and he can score a goal. He is going to drive the net and be around the crease."

"He is as good as any player in the NHL behind the goal line and along the back wall. There is a lot to handle there, and then there is obviously the emotion and energy that he brings to the game."

So, how exactly can the Leafs plan on trying to contain him? 

"For us, it will be trying to neutralize him as much as we can in terms of his abilities to play with the puck, play on the offense, and how he really drives the team but also not get distracted — as he would like us to be — with any of the other stuff outside of the gameplay," Keefe explained.

Not only did Tkachuk light it up on the scoresheet, but he drove the Bruins nuts with his physical play as well as his constant presence in front of goaltender Linus Ullmark. 

"We're not friends with him," goaltender Ilya Samsonov quipped

Game 1 between the Leafs and Panthers will get underway tonight from Scotiabank Arena starting at 7:00 PM EST.