Sports Tailor-made for the playoffs: Why feisty Calgary Flames rookie Matthew Tkachuk is built for this time of year

20:25  13 april  2017
20:25  13 april  2017 Source:   National Post

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The Calgary Flames ' Matthew Tkachuk skates over the Stanley Cup playoffs logo during practice at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary on Monday April 10, 2017. “ Matthew Tkachuk … I played with his dad, coached his dad This kid, it seems, is tailor - made for this time of year . He hopes so.

Going into the playoffs , the Flames are one of the bigger question marks, a team that could make a deep run or easily get bounced in the first round. 19- year -old rookie Matthew Tkachuk has been a great addition for this team.

STORY-SLUG-.jpeg: Jim Wells / Postmedia Network © Jim Wells / Postmedia Network Jim Wells / Postmedia Network CAL0417-gya-10-JPG.jpeg: Gavin Young / Postmedia Network © Gavin Young / Postmedia Network Gavin Young / Postmedia Network

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Randy Carlyle figures it might be time to call in a favour.

Not that the Anaheim Ducks bench boss expected this particular gameplan would work.

“Matthew Tkachuk … I played with his dad, coached his dad,” Carlyle said on the eve of Game 1 of a best-of-seven showdown between the Ducks and Calgary Flames. “So I’ll ask his dad to discipline him. Maybe I’ll make a phone call to his dad.”

Worth a try, right?

“Well, if he’s as thick-headed as his dad, then I don’t think the phone call is going to do me any good,” Carlyle said with a chuckle.

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Calgary Flames Matthew Tkachuk AL CHAREST / POSTMEDIA. Share Adjust Comment Print. “And when I look at Matthew this year , he’s not just made the team but he’s a player. Every night, he has an impact on the game.”

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Keith Tkachuk, en route to Slovakia to cheer on his youngest son, Brady, at the 2017 IIHF Under-18 World Hockey Championship, might have multiple voicemails.

One from his former Winnipeg Jets teammate, Carlyle, asking if he can somehow convince Matthew to behave during what promises to be a feisty and physical first-round series. And one from the Flames, wondering if he could get to Anaheim for Thursday’s Game 1 at Honda Center — plus, on a related note, whether he’d be willing to bring his skates.

“I wish we had Keith right now, too,” quipped Calgary’s head coach, Glen Gulutzan, after a slip-of-the-tongue by a reporter. “That wouldn’t be a bad guy to have.”

The Flames are thrilled to have 19-year-old Matthew on their side.

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Matthew Tkachuk (/kəˈtʃʌk/; born December 11, 1997) is an American ice hockey player currently playing with the Calgary Flames in the National Hockey League (NHL). Tkachuk was a top rated prospect who was selected 6th overall at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft by the Flames .

Carter made it 4-1 when he was set-up by Iginla at 12:40. It was a chippy game all night. One of the featured storylines going in was it being the first meeting between feisty Flames rookie Matthew Tkachuk and Los Angeles defenceman Drew Doughty since Feb.

Heading into the series opener, there’s a sense of intrigue about what we might see from Calgary’s rambunctious rookie, not only the youngest skater in the 2017 playoffs but perhaps also the least likely to turn into a wallflower at his first spring dance.

With spades of skill and hockey sense and a nose for the net, kids might want to watch and learn. With his nasty streak, their parents might be tempted to switch the channel if the score starts to look a wee bit lopsided in either direction.

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Nice plays? No problem. Play nice? Doesn’t seem to be his style.

“I just try to go out there and do what I can do,” Tkachuk said after Wednesday’s practice at Honda Center, where the Flames are aiming to snap a 27-game losing skid that dates back to when he was eight years old. “I know that the way I’ve played my whole life is the way I’m going to play this series and, moving forward, for the rest of my career.”

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The Calgary Flames will be without Matthew Tkachuk for their game against Washington. Yet, it looks like the Capitals will catch Calgary at a time in which their forward depth is stretched rather thin. RELATED: Winnik calls current playoff format 'the stupidest thing ever'.

When the Flames weren’t very good early this season, three men made the team seem like maybe they could pull things together: veteran winger Michael Frolik, rising star Mikael Backlund and teenage rookie Matthew Tkachuk .

Which is, if you missed his 76 outings for the Flames during the regular season, not much different from how his father played. Keith racked up 538 goals and 1,065 points across 18 seasons. As one of the NHL’s elite power forwards, he could do damage many different ways.

Proof the apple didn’t fall far from the tree (and isn’t afraid to be bruised), Matthew managed 13 goals and 35 assists as a freshman and also served a team-high 105 minutes in the penalty box.

The Flames’ fearless freshman didn’t think his father would be relaying any messages from the Ducks coaching staff, but Keith did have some advice for his boy.

“He just says you have to play hard and you have to just play the way you’ve played so far this season and continue to play the same way in playoffs,” Matthew said. “Because at this point, there’s no waiting around and there’s no waiting for that next game and that next series. You have to go out and do it every game.”

A lot of folks have been waiting for this — to see what sort of magic and mayhem the mouthguard-chomping left-winger will provide during his first playoff run. This kid, it seems, is tailor-made for this time of year.

He hopes so.

“I haven’t done anything in the playoffs, so I don’t listen to anything like that,” Matthew said. “I mean, I have to go out and prove it.”

That starts Thursday.

“Watching the Stanley Cup playoffs every year, watching the finals, watching Game 7s, Game 7 overtimes. It’s something that you just dream about when you’re younger,” he said, recalling the Carolina Hurricanes’ championship run in 2006 — the same year that the Flames last celebrated a win in Anaheim — as his first vivid memory of watching the spring slugfests.

“So now that it’s here and I’m playing Game 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs, it’s pretty crazy and it’s exciting.”

NHL roundup: Ducks sweep Flames .
NHL roundup: Ducks sweep Flames

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