Matthew Tkachuk accuses Garnet Hathaway of taking a dive.

Matthew Tkachuk accuses Garnet Hathaway of taking a dive.

Matthew Tkachuk adds insult to injury after cross-checking Garnet Hathaway in the back.

Jonathan Larivee

The Stanley Cup playoffs really appeared to step up in intensity over the course of the weekend, with several teams bringing a new level of physicality to bear against their opponents. That is to be expected as series between two teams wear on and players get more familiar, and more annoyed, with one another... and that is also true of the mind games that go on.

One player that was definitely playing up both of those aspects over the weekend was Florida Panthers forward, and notorious agitator, Matthew Tkachuk. Although his team failed to secure a win over the Boston Bruins, and fell to a 1-3 deficit in the series. Tkachuk was a factor through Game 4 and perhaps none felt the brunt of that more than Bruins forward Garnet Hathaway.

At the end of the first frame on Sunday, Tkachuk delivered a stiff looking cross-check to Hathaway's lower back. Tkachuk's stick appeared to strike Hathaway where he has no protection from such a blow, and the Bruins forward would collapse to the ice and remain there for several moments.

Tkachuk though isn't buying the act from Hathaway and he took the opportunity to say as much when asked about the incident at the end of the first period.

"It's kinda one of those pretty chippy games." said Tkachuk. "If you get cross-checked go down, try to draw a penalty. It seems that's the way this game is kinda going."

Hathaway would remain in the game but he appeared to be laboring when he came out in the second period, so if he was selling the injury he was pretty committed to his role. That being said these comments from Tkachuk were no doubt designed to get under the skin of his opposition, as is much of what he does, and we'll have to wait until Game 5 to see what impact, if any, his comments have made.