Matthew Tkachuk on Leafs/Bruins series: ‘I think we all knew it was probably going to be Boston’

Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Mike Gould
1 month ago
Florida Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk twisted the knife a little bit deeper into the hearts of Toronto Maple Leafs fans on Sunday ahead of his team’s upcoming Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series against the Boston Bruins.
Tkachuk, 26, helped the Panthers defeat both the Maple Leafs and Bruins last year en route to the 2023 Stanley Cup Final, which they lost to the Vegas Golden Knights in five games.
The Panthers had to wait to see whether they’d be facing Toronto or Boston in the second round this year after making short work of the Tampa Bay Lightning in their quarterfinal series. The Bruins ended up beating the Leafs in overtime of Game 7 on Saturday.
But to hear Tkachuk tell it, the Panthers were pretty confident all along that they’d end up facing the Bruins in Round 2.
“Without this coming out too badly, I mean, think we all knew it was probably going to be Boston with the way that series was going,” Tkachuk said in his media availability on Sunday. “I think throughout the whole series we were probably expecting they were going to come out and win it one way or the other.”
The Maple Leafs fell behind three games to one against the Bruins this year before battling back with two consecutive wins to force a Game 7 at TD Garden in Boston.
Then, as has repeatedly been the case over the last decade, the Leafs just couldn’t get it done when it mattered most. Despite taking a 1-0 lead midway through the third period on Saturday, the Leafs quickly squandered it and ended up falling 2-1 in overtime off a goal by David Pastrnak.
The frustrating loss kept the Leafs at just one series win to date during the Auston Matthews era, fuelling speculation that the team will make significant changes this summer. Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe, whose job could be in jeopardy, put forth an all-timer of a quote after Saturday’s game: “When teams play the Leafs, they set up the game for the Leafs to beat themselves.”
Leafs forward Mitch Marner has been the target of near-unlimited scrutiny since the start of the Boston series. He managed just one goal and three points in seven playoff games and is approaching a crossroads with his current contract set to expire next summer.
In any event, the Leafs seem to be on the verge of making major changes. Maybe next year they’ll be perceived as more of a threat.

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