American Matthew Tkachuk has become a player to watch for me at the WJHC in Finland this year, but for all the wrong reasons. Every time I really notice him it’s because he’s getting sucked in to some sort of ridiculous scuffle. The most notable moment of undiscipline was in the 1-0 loss to Sweden. With his team down by 1 and already down a man with the goalie out, this is when Tkachuk decides to put himself first. He took a stupid high sticking penalty with less than a minute left to put his team down two men. I don’t understand it because he did this in front of the Sweden net at a time when the puck was leaving the zone and the US had to regroup. All he should have been thinking about was clearing the zone, but instead he cross checked someone in the face and took an obvious penalty.
He did the same thing in today’s game against Switzerland. While his team was on the power play, he again turned and got his hands up into someone’s face, again in the slot, and again while the puck was going the other way. This has happened three or four times so far. He does have 5 points in 3 games so far, but 2 goals and an assist came in today’s 10-1 win against Switzlerand where no one could miss. I don’t think the penalty against Sweden will be the last time he costs the Americans chances in this tournament.