Notes from Team Canada vs. Czechia at the World Juniors

Covering the World Juniors is strange. No ads on the boards. No ads during stoppage of play. The Zambonis are plain white. There’s not a Tim Hortons, Canadian Tire, or Telus ad in sight, and while this is generally a positive thing, how we got there is certainly not, and that reasoning has been looming all day as I experienced my first couple of games of World Juniors coverage.
Watching Canada play is definitely a bit different too. In contrast to the game between the United States and Austria, there was certainly a notable crowd for the game between Canada and Czechia, but in the lower bowl the number of empty seats still outnumbered the filled. Those who chose to show up are certainly showing up for Canada though. There’s no hesitation to cheer for the Canadian players, no matter what the Hockey Canada jersey might represent at the moment.
As for the game itself, both teams certainly delivered on providing a product worth tuning into. The early first period push by Czechia, and their ability to pull ahead with a shorthanded goal while killing off a five minute major was not expected. That should have been the end of Czechs then and …

Read More

Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

3 reasons Raptors are still better than Knicks after 2022 offseason

3 reasons Raptors are still better than Knicks after 2022 offseason

The Toronto Raptors are stuck in the middle of arguably the best division in the league, as every team in the Atlantic Division has a legitimate shot at making it to the playoffs. The New York Knicks, last year’s last-place finishers, have made some major improvements in the offseason. The Raptors’ rival managed to land […]
3 reasons Raptors are still better than Knicks after 2022 offseason – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

Read More

Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Hernandez, Chapman homer in 2-1 win as the Blue Jays end their losing streak

It just had to be a victory on “Victory Vlad” Bobblehead day.

The Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Cleveland Guardians 2-1 on Saturday afternoon, as two solo home runs from the offense backed a solid start from Mitch White. In doing so, the Blue Jays ended a 3-game losing skid, including an 8-0 beat down at the hands of Cleveland last night.
As previously mentioned, Mitch White got the nod this afternoon. His first start against Minnesota last week was very meh, but to his credit, the rainy conditions weren’t doing him any favors.
Today, he showed glimpses of him being a reliable arm in the rotation. He went 4 and 2/3 innings, allowing 3 hits and one run. The run was allowed in the first inning, benefitting from two walks in the frame. Andres Giménez hit an RBI single to put Cleveland on the board, but White settled in and kept the Guardians in check. White put up zeros the rest of his outing, including retiring 8 in a row after Gimenez’s hit.
White was good, but the Blue Jays bullpen put up a fabulous performance. A combination of Pop-Cimber-Bass-Garcia-Romano pitched 4 and 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, keeping the Jays within striking distance the whole way. Between the first two games of this series, the bullpen has thrown 9 and 1/3 scoreless innings, which is a huge relief considering this group has taken a lot of …

Read More

Author: Evan Stack / Blue Jays Nation

TLN Prospect Rankings: Where did we get it wrong?

We’re heading into the home stretch of our countdown of the top Leafs prospects, and as we near the end, it’s time to reflect on some of those we might have gotten wrong. Maybe we loved them too much or maybe not enough. Either way, some of our voters and some of our non-voters weigh-in on the TLN rankings.
Dylan Murphy:
Maybe it’s just recency bias seeing him at the World Juniors, but Roni Hirvonen looks ready to make the jump to North America, perhaps even ready to make his NHL debut in a depth role. I’ll admit to not seeing him play all that often, but from what I have seen, he’s a creative playmaker with a nose for the net. The Leafs are weak at the LW position, but between Robertson, Knies, and Hirvonen, the team’s future (at that position) is in good hands.
Ryan Hobart:
I’m continually surprised by how little recognition Axel Rindell gets from prospects people. He didn’t get into our top 20 prospects this year or last. While being an older prospect at 22 years old, his expected move to the Marlies this season could prove an excellent launching pad to the Leafs. If he can take over the Marlies’ powerplay as a quarterbac …

Read More

Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

3 teams who could beat Raptors’ best offer for Kevin Durant

3 teams who could beat Raptors’ best offer for Kevin Durant

The Toronto Raptors are still hanging around as they try to figure out a way to coax the Brooklyn Nets into parting ways with Kevin Durant. After KD reiterated his trade request to owner Joe Tsai, those who want to pilfer him away are coming back out of the woodwork. The Raptors have plenty of […]
3 teams who could beat Raptors’ best offer for Kevin Durant – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

Read More

Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Pre-Series Notes: New Blue Jays make home debuts, Canadian Cal Quantrill returns to face his childhood team

Coming off two days rest and riding a two game losing streak into tonight, it feels like the Blue Jays haven’t won a game in forever. That said, they still hold the top spot in the American League wild card race with a record of 60-50.
Meanwhile the Guardians have won five in a row to take the lead in the AL Central. The tightest division race in the Majors, the Central still has three teams battling for the division crown. The Minnesota Twins trail the Guardians by just 1.5 games and the Chicago White Sox are 3.5 back.
The Jays will be looking for revenge after losing two of three in Cleveland back in May.
Things Worth Mentioning…
A pair of Blue Jays will be making their home debut tonight.

Whit Merrifield (2B) and Jackie Bradley Jr. (CF) will make their #BlueJays home debut starting tonight. pic.twitter.com/NVdbg7HgdB
— Ben Wagner (@benwag247) August 12, 2022

George Springer is still on IL so Bradley Jr. will start in center and Merrifield will make his first start at second for the Jays. One of the best defensive CF’s of the last decade Bradley Jr. provides plus defence and speed with a below average bat. He did however hit two home runs in his last series against the Blue Jays while he was with the Red Sox. In 92 games this year he is slashing .210/.257/.321 with three home runs.
One of the favourites for the AL Rookie of the Year, Steven Kwan is on a tear recently.

.@CleGuardians OF Steven Kwan has now hit safely in 26 of the last 29 games
Tale of the tape:
.358 (42 hits) 9 doubles 1 triple 2 HR 8 RBI 12 multi-hit games; 5 three-hit games pic.twitter.com/wJJZW94DEx
— Jensen Lewis (@JLEWFifty) August 11, 2022

In his debut season, Kwan it batting .300 …

Read More

Author: Scott Ony / Blue Jays Nation

TLN Prospect #6: Alex Steeves’ next step is a spot in the Maple Leafs lineup

Alex Steeves only wanted to do one thing when he entered the Maple Leafs organization last year, and that was dominate.
It was like the 22-year-old was shot out of a cannon when he made his professional hockey debut with the Marlies. He was coming off an injury in the prospect tournament a month earlier, but you couldn’t even tell with the way he was playing.
Through his first 13 games, Steeves scored 14 points — a sign that he was someone that not many could handle at that moment.
Alex Steeves
LW/RW | Toronto (AHL) | Age: 22 | 5-foot-11 | 185 lbs | Shoots: LAcquired: UDFA Signing, 03/28/21 | 2021 Ranking: N/A
The 22-year-old eventually dropped down to earth, finishing off his first pro season with 46 points in 58 games. A great total at that but what was more spectacular was the fact that he tied the old Marlies rookie goal record of 23 goals.
Another rookie in Bobby McMann scored one more goal and etched his name in the record books, but Steeves’ total shouldn’t be understated either.
When looking at him as a prospect, there’s a lot of excitement around the player he could pan out to be. By this time next year, the 22-year-old might not even be recognized as a prospect anymore.
Similar to Pontus Holmberg, Nick Robertson, and B …

Read More

Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Raptors: Pros and Cons of trading Fred VanVleet for Kevin Durant

Raptors: Pros and Cons of trading Fred VanVleet for Kevin Durant

The Toronto Raptors will once again try to prove that they are serious contenders for the services of Kevin Durant. Bringing the disgruntled Brooklyn Nets star to Canada would not only deprive their division rivals of the chance to acquire him, but it would create a big four of KD, Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes, and […]
Raptors: Pros and Cons of trading Fred VanVleet for Kevin Durant – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

Read More

Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

BJN Radio – Ep. 102: The rain saves the Blue Jays from a possible sweep in Baltimore

So much for all of those easy wins against the Trash Birds!

The Blue Jays rolled into Baltimore this week and dropped two games to the Orioles. The first was the result of a poor Yusei Kikuchi start and then the second one was the rest of a late-game bullpen meltdown. The sweep was avoided as the skies opened up and the third game was postponed due to rain.
In this episode of BJN Radio, we talked about the surprisingly good Orioles, Blue Jay Murder Ryan Mountcastle, potentially going with a six-man rotation once Ross Stripling is back from injury, and a whole bunch more!
You can listen to the episode here…
POINTSBET IS LIVE IN ONTARIO

Read More

Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

TLN Prospect #7: Pontus Holmberg is ready to take next step in professional hockey

Joining the Maple Leafs organization back in April, Pontus Holmberg was ready to start his transition to professional hockey.
The 23-year-old has had an incredible run throughout the last two seasons — from winning the SHL championship and becoming the playoff MVP to playing in the Olympics for Team Sweden. Holmberg always knew this was going to be a massive year and he’s been able to show what he’s got.
Being a sixth-round draft selection by Toronto in 2018, there was some mystery as to what Holmberg could turn out to be. However, I think now is the time to say that he’s an incredibly underrated pick by the Maple Leafs organization.
Pontus Holmberg
C | Växjö Lakers HC (SHL) & Toronto (AHL) | Age: 23 | 5-foot-11 | 179 lbs | Shoots: LAcquired: 2018 Draft, 156th Overall | 2021 Ranking: #17
This upcoming season for Holmberg is arguably going to be the biggest year of his hockey career.
With the Maple Leafs so incredibly tight to the cap ceiling, they’re going to try to squeeze all of the assets they can. One part of that means using players with low cap hits further down the lineup who could provide some upside.
Holmberg might just be one of them.
“At the end of the year with the Marlies, [Pontus] …

Read More

Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation