"He's Not Expected To Save The World": Leafs Say No Pressure On Knies

Now that the dust has cleared from the Michael Bunting suspension, it's a done deal that rookie Matthew Knies will be making his Stanley Cup Playoff debut in Game Two tonight for the Toronto Maple Leafs. They trail the Tampa Bay Lightning 1-0 after a lopsided 7-3 loss in Game One. But no one around the team feels that Knies should be feeling any pressure. 

“He's just coming in here to just do his part... I don’t think there’s any pressure on him," said the head coach. "He’s not expected to come in here and save the world.”

Certainly, Keefe is putting Knies in as good a spot as possible to succeed in his first-ever taste of the NHL playoffs: alongside Ryan O'Reilly and Noel Acciari, he'll play on a line with a couple of grizzled veterans of the postseason wars, including a Stanley Cup champ. 

O'Reilly said of Knies, “He’s a phenomenal player. He’s just gotta lean into that.” ROR just wants Knies to be himself. He said he told the youngster, “Enjoy it … trust in yourself.” 

The Leafs' second-round pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, Knies played the last three games of the regular season with Toronto, registering an assist and showing some flashes of his elite talent. With the University of Minnesota this year, he reached the Frozen Four Final, after recording 21 goals and 42 points in 40 games during the season.

Photo: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports