Big Puck Tkachuk


By: Jeff Yoder

Good Morning,

Wednesday’s painfully slow sports news cycle was saved by a barrage of baseball and another Matthew Tkachuk moment. Deja vu, anyone? The Panthers are returning to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 27 years, and their four-game sweep of the Hurricanes featured three — count ’em, three — Tkachuk game-winners.

Letter Rip!


Big Puck, Tkachuk!

Photo: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images

Game 4: Matthew Tkachuk Scores Game-Winner With 4.3 Seconds Left to Complete Sweep, Put Panthers in Stanley Cup Finals

Matthew Tkachuk does it again! The Florida Panthers are heading to the Stanley Cup Finals after sweeping the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday night, but they finished the sweep with more late-game heroics. The Canes rallied from behind twice to tie the game at 3-3 in the final four minutes of the third period, but no overtime would be necessary in Game 4. Matthew Tkachuk gathered the puck in a fortuitous spot and fired the game-winner with 4.3 seconds left to complete the sweep. It was Tkachuk’s second goal of the game and his third late game-winner of the series. The Panthers are Cup bound.

Panthers Playoff Run: Florida took down three of the top four teams from the regular season in their path through the Eastern Conference — Bruins, Maple Leafs, and Hurricanes. The fifth-best team from the regular season is likely waiting for them in the Finals (Vegas). Remember: Florida was the last wild-card team in the postseason. The Panthers have been to the Stanley Cup Finals just once, and that was 27 years ago (1996). They’ve never won it.

Big Puck, Tkachuk: No one has had a more outrageous postseason run than Matthew Tkachuk. The 25-year-old winger has 21 points in the playoffs (9 goals, 12 assists). Three of his nine playoff goals were game-winners in the Eastern Conference Finals. He had OT winners in Games 1 and 2 before last night’s regulation buzzer-beater in Game 4.

All four games of the East Finals were decided by one goal. If the Panthers go on to win the Cup, don’t forget they needed an OT winner in Game 7 of Round 1 to upset the history-making Bruins. Vegas or Dallas? The Stanley Cup Finals are coming.

Eastern Conference Finals Highlights

Gm 4: Panthers def. Hurricanes (4-3) | FLA Wins (4-0)

Tonight (Western Conference Finals)
Gm 4: 
Golden Knights at Stars (8:00 pm ET) | VGK Leads (3-0)

Read More

USA Today: Panthers Sweep Hurricanes, Reach Stanley Cup Finals for 1st Time Since 1996

SportsNet: Gotta See It: Matthew Tkachuk Sends Panthers to Stanley Cup Finals With Late Winner


The MLB 50-Game Checkpoint

Photo: G Fiume / Getty Images

MLB Power Rankings, Stat Leaders & Season Analysis After 50 Games

The MLB season is roughly 50 games down, and that means we’re nearing the 1/3-mark of the season. We’ve learned a lot about who’s who in 2023, and we’ve also learned how the new rules have impacted the game. Things change fast. New teams get hot. Hot teams go cold. And we’re still waiting on the first no-hitter of the season. Maybe the shift rule and pitch clock are at fault? That’s my guess. Let’s take a stab at our 50-game power rankings, including the top 10 and teams above .500, and toss in some highlights from Wednesday.

MLB Power Rankings

1. Rays (36-15)

2. Dodgers (31-20)

3. Yankees (30-21)

4. Braves (30-19)

5. Rangers (31-18)

6. Orioles (32-17)

7. Astros (28-21)

8. Brewers (27-22)

9. Angels (28-23)

10. Diamondbacks (29-21)

Honorable Mentions: Twins (26-24), Red Sox (26-24), Blue Jays (26-24), Mets (25-25), Pirates (25-24), Marlins (25-25), Mariners (25-24)

The AL East Beasts

All five teams from the AL East are above .500 after 50 games — Rays, Yankees, Orioles, Red Sox and Blue Jays. And while Toronto just rung 20 runs on Tampa Bay, they’ve lost eight of their last ten. The biggest surprise has been the Orioles, who now own the second-best record in baseball.

Biggest Surprises

We mentioned the O’s above, but the Rangers and Diamondbacks are carrying their hot starts into the summer out west. Both clubs are 7-3 in their last 10. The Rangers are leading the pack in the AL West (Astros and Angels) while the D-Backs are just 1.5 games back of the Dodgers in the NL West while leading the Giants and Padres.

Stat Leaders (Team)

  • Runs Scored: Rangers (310)
  • Runs Allowed: Astros (156)
  • Batting Average: Rays (.271)
  • Home Runs: Rays (97)

Stat Leaders (Players)

  • Home Runs: Pete Alonso (Mets) — 18 HRs
  • RBIs: Adolis Garcia (Rangers) — 49 RBIs
  • Batting Avg: Luis Arraez (Marlins) — .371
  • Wins: Shane McClanahan (Rays) — 8-0 (WL)
  • ERA: Sonny Gray (Twins) — 1.82 ERA
  • Strikeouts: Spencer Strider (Braves) — 97 Ks

MLB Quick-Hitters



 Ranking NFL’s 11 New Coach-QB Duos

The 2023 NFL offseason saw plenty of big names swap places at the most important spots: head coach and quarterback. In fact, 11 different teams — more than a third of the league — are set to open the new season with a new pairing there. (CBS Sports)

 The 2026 World Cup Final Location

One of the juiciest battles of the 2026 men’s soccer World Cup is taking place well ahead of time. America’s heavyweight cities are slugging it out for the honor of staging the game that matters most. (FOX Sports)

 Buy or Sell LeBron Retiring

After sweeping through the conference finals, the Denver Nuggets are headed to their first NBA Finals, but LeBron James dropped some postgame nuggets of his own that have completely redirected much of the media’s attention back to him. (Bleacher Report)





Tonight’s Must-Watch List

NBA Playoffs

Gm 5: Heat at Celtics (8:30 pm ET) | MIA Leads (3-1)

NHL Playoffs

Gm 4: Golden Knights at Stars (8:00 pm ET) | VGK Leads (3-0)

Blue Jays at Rays (1:10 pm ET)

Orioles at Yankees (7:05 pm ET)

Mets at Cubs (7:40 pm ET)


Aces at Sparks (10:00 pm ET)

PGA Tour

Charles Schwab Challenge (All Day)

Download The Sportsletter’s Must-Watch Calendar



Question of the Day

The Panthers are heading to the Stanley Cup Finals, and the Heat could be on their way to the NBA Finals with a win tonight. Both teams were the 8th and final seeds in their respective conference playoffs.

Which Florida underdog team do you think is most likely to win a championship? (click to vote)

Florida Panthers

Miami Heat