Imagine that you are an NHL rookie and you have the opportunity to play on the team’s first line alongside two superstars that you have looked up to. How would you feel?
That’s the case for Matthew Knies as he’s now playing with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner on the team’s first line. As a young player, regardless of his own self-confidence, it strikes me that Knies would find the experience both a combination of excitement and sometimes nerve-wracking pressure.
On One Hand, the Experience Would Reaffirm One’s Worth
On one hand, being placed in such a prestigious position would have to be a confidence boost. Knies would likely carry a huge sense of excitement into being asked to play alongside Matthews and Marner. These are two of the brightest stars in the game, and lining up beside them must be a dream come true for a young player. These two players have extraordinary talent, creativity, and on-ice vision. They could elevate his game to new heights.
Second, being asked to carry that responsibility also means the coaching staff believes you can thrive in this crucial role. Your own self-belief would rise. It’s an indication that the coaching staff and the team have faith in your abilities. It has to be a confidence boost.
Third, what a learning opportunity. You’d have a chance to learn from the best. Playing with Matthews and Marner would offer lessons that could help get your own young career off to a strong start. You’d be present to their insights, mindsets, work ethic, and the hundreds of little details that make them elite players — and you’d be doing it up close. Such guidance and feedback could accelerate your own development.
On the Other Hand, the Experience Would be Worrisome
At the same time, you’d wonder if there would be increased pressure to perform. Regardless of your own self-confidence, could you function at the same level as these two stars? Your own self-expectations would be high. What if you can’t live up to the task?
A second concern would be maintaining consistency in your performance. Could you match Matthews and Marner’s play on a game-to-game basis? What if you failed to contribute to the line’s success? As well, would you be able to build and sustain on-ice chemistry? If you struggled, would you affect the line’s effectiveness?
In reality, playing with two of the brightest stars in the game would likely be a mix of excitement and anxiety. That said, it would also be an opportunity to learn, grow, and make a significant impact. What an incredible motivator.
For the Maple Leafs, the combination of Knies with superstar duo Matthews and Marner has been a revelation. As the team’s first line, this trio has ignited the offense. During the Tampa Bay Lightning game, it was the best the first line has performed all season. Knies was the one independent variable. He clearly had an impact on the ice.
Coach Sheldon Keefe Believes the Blend is Effective
Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe supplied insights into why this blend works so well. He emphasized that Knies’ personality seamlessly fits with Matthews and Marner, both on and off the ice. He pinpointed a standout quality in Knies — his unwavering confidence. This attribute has played a key role in ensuring that the responsibility of playing alongside these elite talents doesn’t faze him.
Keefe also noted that Knies’ poise was evident from Day 1, including during his playoff debut. The elevated pressure and expectations associated with being a Maple Leafs player in the playoffs didn’t rattle Knies. He carried out his own self-assuredness onto the ice; by doing so, he showed he was ready for the challenges ahead.
The First-Line’s Confidence is Contagious
In a recent interview seen below, Knies was asked about the impact of playing on the top line with Matthews and Marner. The rookie emphasized the boost in his own confidence that comes from the experience. He acknowledged that being in the presence of such great teammates enhanced his self-belief. He also noted that he entered the experience knowing that the twosome had a knack for elevating the performances of those around them.
Knies also highlighted the learning opportunities that come with playing beside Matthews and Marner. The valuable tips, insights, and camaraderie shared on the bench have already, in a short time, contributed to his growth as a player. He stressed that the experience has been special and has given him a unique learning curve that will undoubtedly shape his NHL future.
For Knies, There’s Been a Seamless Transition
One remarkable aspect of his partnership with Matthews and Marner has been the seamless transition for Knies. He revealed that stepping into this role didn’t trigger nerves on his part. Instead, the welcoming and supportive atmosphere Matthews and Marner created made him feel at home. Knies mentioned that, regardless of the line he plays on, his approach remains the same. He will continue to play to his strengths and focus on contributing to the team’s success.
As the Maple Leafs continue their NHL season, the confidence gained from playing with Matthews and Marner will serve as motivation for Knies’ own game. Maple Leafs fans have to hope this trio works for each player and for the team.
If it does, what does the future hold for this powerful threesome?