Keith Tkachuk likes Flames' Stanley Cup chances, touts Auston Matthews as Hart favourite

Ottawa Senators' Brady Tkachuk, left, and his brother Calgary Flames' Matthew Tkachuk watch the Skills Competition, part of the NHL All-Star weekend. (Jeff Roberson/AP)

Hot on the heels of his son Matthew Tkachuk has reaching the 100-point mark, his dad is liking the chances of the Calgary Flames during the Stanley Cup playoffs.

"They're built for playoffs, I'll say that about Calgary right now," Keith Tkachuk said during an appearance on Real Kyper and Bourne on Tuesday. "Having (coach) Darryl (Sutter) there for a full year, he keeps the players on their toes, and it shows. I don't know what happened last year; this year, it's a totally different team. ... They're afraid of him, he has them prepared, there's no doubt about it.

"They're playing well, so obviously he's doing well. I think they have a lot of different ingredients that will hopefully give them a long playoff run."

The Flames are a Western Conference powerhouse this season, sitting second in the conference, thanks in large part to the strong work of the top line of Matthew Tkachuk, Elias Lindholm and Johnny Gaudreau. And, with Tkachuk a pending restricted free agent coming off a bridge deal, speculation is starting to heat up about what he might do this summer.

"I don't know what's going to happen," Keith Tkachuk told Nick Kypreos and Justin Bourne. "Main thing with Matthew, he loves it there, he's grown there, he's developed there; they have something special going on. They want to win a Stanley Cup and that's what it's all about right now."

Matthew's brother, Brady, before the season signed a seven-year, $57.5 million deal with the Senators, and his father said he's optimistic about what's happening in Ottawa, even though it's been a while since the team was a favourite. He said he was especially encouraged given the way the team responded to Montreal Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher's comments about star Senator Tim Stützle being a diver.

"You don't want your kids fighting, but I was looking forward to Ottawa-Montreal," Keith Tkachuk said. "There were some things said they didn't like, and they pushed back. I was pumped for that, waiting for a little but more but did a good job standing up.

"I will say they're in a tough division, but I'm very encouraged by their team," Keith Tkachuk added. "The future is really good there. They'll be a team to reckon with in a few years."

When asked to weigh in about the strength of USA Hockey, Tkachuk cited the play of Toronto Maple Leafs superstar Auston Matthews as one of the program's shining lights.

"He's the favourite to win the Hart and probably should be," Tkachuk said.

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