Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk has been the centre of the NHL’s attention of late for his agitating play, but Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews believes he’s unsusceptible to the winger’s ways.
In anticipation of the two facing off on Thursday night, the Leafs centerman shared his knowledge of the opponent.
“It’s something he feeds off of obviously,” Matthews told reporters when asked about Tkachuk’s reputation as a pest. “I saw it first-hand for two years and I think he’s just a guy you love to have on your team and on your side, and a guy you hate to play against.”
The two forwards spent time together with the U.S. National Team Development Program and on the U.S. Under-18 National Team before they were drafted by their respective NHL clubs.
Thanks to that experience, Matthews knows what Tkachuk typically does on the ice.
“He just likes to compete out there and play on the edge,” he said. “Obviously, he’s pissed a couple people off doing it.”
The most recent example of Tkachuk’s agitation —an already-infamous incident with Edmonton Oilers forward Zack Kassian — demonstrates exactly how the winger competes.
Matthews, however, believes he’s immune to Tkachuk’s behaviour.
“He knows his stuff probably won’t work on me because I’ve seen it first hand. He gets under other guys’ skin and he does a really good job.”
Another member of the Maple Leafs who’s a former teammate of Tkachuk’s with the London Knights and is thus familiar with his game is winger Mitch Marner.
“It’s annoying,” Marner said. “If you do something back to him, and he draws a penalty, he’s going to be the one to put it in your net. You got to be careful around him.”
Through 47 games this season, Tkachuk has 15 goals, 38 points, and 19 penalties drawn.
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