What to expect from a Spencer Carbery-run Leafs PP

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One of the most puzzling things about the Maple Leafs last season was their Jekyll & Hyde powerplay. Fans scratched their heads at how the Leafs could go from having the second-best powerplay in the first half of the season to having the second-worst in the last half, especially with the offensive talent they were throwing over the boards every man advantage.
What went wrong
That it took less than two months for opponents to figure out the Leafs’ powerplay was concerning. That no significant adaptations or changes were made to the team’s special teams strategy was utterly bewildering. Opponents quickly keyed in on the fact that the Leafs powerplay ran through the top of their umbrella formation, which consisted of Mitch Marner, Morgan Rielly, and Auston Matthews. The opposition overcompensated towards Matthews to take away his shot, daring Marner or Rielly to take non-dangerous shots from far out. It worked, as Marner and Rielly combined for just one powerplay goal all season, courtesy of Rielly.
The Leafs passed and passed and passed and passed the puck around the top of the zone trying to open Matthews up for a shot that was seldom uncontested, often …

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Author: Mark Norman / The Leafs Nation

The Blue Jays are increasing capacity to 30,000 for their six remaining regular season home games

The Rogers Centre is about to get a little rowdier.

The Blue Jays announced on Friday that the capacity for home games at the Rogers Centre will be increased to 30,000 for the remaining six home games of the regular season. They begin a three-game set with the Yankees on Tuesday and then they’ll finish off with a three-game series with the Orioles on the weekend.

Let’s get Toronto loud to help the Blue Jays punch that postseason ticket!
Tickets available now: https://t.co/M7PlRcHWYx pic.twitter.com/4sRyWrkX5k
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) September 24, 2021

This is obviously great news because it means the vibe at The Dome is going to be even wilder than it has been for their homecoming so far this summer. Having been a few games, it’s been pretty incredible how a stadium with a cap of 15,000 fans feels anywhere near a sellout.
Let’s hope that this gives the Blue Jays a boost for these very, very important games at the end of the season and that it propels the team to take the first wild-card spot. Hosting that game with 30,000 fans would be fucking amazing.

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

TLN Top 20 Leafs #12: Justin Holl

TLN Top 20 Leafs #12: Justin Holl

A fun fact about Justin Holl is that he is one of the most likable guys on the Leafs, and nobody really knew until the league shut down and he started hosting weekly virtual Leaf to Leaf segments on Instagram live. As someone who prides herself on knowing the players’ personalities, I was disappointed in myself for not knowing this sooner but delighted to learn about it.
But being a lovely and entertaining human off the ice does not always translate to on-ice success. And Justin Holl has swung from everyone’s hero (shutting down Connor McDavid) to everyone’s scapegoat. What do we know about Holl on the ice? Well. We know that he has improved season after season, and has put in the work to move up the Leafs lineup and played heavy minutes in a shutdown pairing with Jake Muzzin last season.
TLN staff are also divided on Justin Holl, and while he ended up at number 12, he ranked anywhere from 9th to not even ranked by one member of the team. He had some highlight reel moments last season, and some major blunders, but overall he showed improvement over the prior season. In the 2021-2022 season …

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Author: Mer / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews is on schedule to return for opening night

About a month ago, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews underwent successful wrist surgery after dealing with a nagging injury throughout the season. It’s honestly crazy that Matthews was playing with basically one wrist at points of last season and still ended up leading the NHL in goals with 41 and ultimately winning his first Rocket Richard. In all seriousness, we’re all glad he got the surgery to help his wrist because clearly, it was bothering him at points last season when he sat out multiple games at once and it also affected his playoff performance as well.
It’s being reported by Luke Fox of Sportsnet that the Maple Leafs forward sat down for a recording with Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek for their newest 31 Thoughts podcast episode that is releasing in the near future and he explained that he is well on track to return by opening night to face the Montreal Canadiens.
 

Auston Matthews’ left wrist is on track to be operational for Opening Night with the Toronto Maple Leafs’ star saying he’s “definitely not worried about it” during a recording of the 31 Thoughts podcast. (By @lukefoxjukebox) https://t.co/XUzT2bQ2tZ
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) September 13, 2021



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Author: Joseph Zita / The Leafs Nation

Who’s wing should Mitch Marner and William Nylander play on?

There’s always been an interesting debate about William Nylander and Mitch Marner. Each player carries such a threat in the offensive zone and both arguably deserve to be on the top line with Auston Matthews. However, with only one spot on the right-wing, it makes this discussion much more difficult.
Whenever either of the players isn’t producing, fans usually suggest switching the wingers up. Sheldon Keefe doesn’t do it often, but we did see glimpses of Nylander with Matthews and Marner with John Tavares last season.
A lot of us tend to look back at the debut season of Tavares where he scored 47 goals with Marner on his wing. Both had career years that season and haven’t gotten near those totals since. It was obvious for Keefe once he came in that Marner could produce at a much better rate on Matthews’ wing.
Tavares’ first season was unbelievable but matching that is quite unlikely. Evidently, it would make much more sense to take the most effective playmaker and put him with the NHL’s top goal-scorer.
Last year, Marner assisted on 25 of Matthews’ 41 goals which is almost 61%. Looking back on Tavares’ first season in Toronto, Marner …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Who will be the Marlies starting goaltender?

With the 2021-22 season about to ramp up and training camps beginning in a few weeks, I thought I’d dive a little bit deeper into the Toronto Marlies goalie situation. There are four goaltenders who could have the starters role on opening night, but one could be up with the Maple Leafs.
In this video, I discuss why two of the three goalies have a stronger chance to become the starter, with the other net minder heading down to the Newfoundland Growlers.
I hope you enjoy the video!

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Why this Leafs team can win a round in the playoffs

Of all the fun content I can write about in the month of September, I’ve decided to go seven months into the future. That, of course, is when the Leafs will finally win a playoff round.
Note: if they lose in the first round again, don’t blame me.
What makes this Leafs team different than previous ones? Well, good question. Toronto lost one of their best players in Zach Hyman, who’s unfortunately off to the Edmonton Oilers. The team also lost Joe Thornton, Nick Foligno, Zach Bogosian, and likely Alex Galchenyuk.
The Leafs have replaced them, though, with Michael Bunting, Nick Ritchie, Ondrej Kase, and David Kampf.
If we took all of the players that Toronto lost after this season and put their ages together, you’d get an average of 31.6-years-old. However, if you take each of the players the Leafs have added who’ll likely be in the lineup this season, you have an average age of 26.25-years-old.
That’s a five-year difference from the players you lost, to the players you gained. Obviously the biggest trait that was lost was experience — Toronto got younger. Some might say that’s a bad idea, some might …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes in the Leafs roster, by counting stats

Welcome to Staturday, the column where we talk about stats on Saturday. Today, we’ll get into an overall look at last year’s team totals vs. what the 2021-22 roster did in 2020-21. Basically, we’re going to see if the Leafs should expect to have more or less of all of the basic counting stats. By doing so, we’ll see in what areas the 2021-22 roster should be better or worse than the 2020-21 roster.
I approached this same concept via the Goals Above Replacement model by Evolving Hockey in a previous Staturday column, so check that out here.
All of the stats below will be from Evolving Hockey, and will be at Even Strength, with no adjustments.
Last Year’s Leafs

Player
Season
Team
Position
GP
TOI
G
Points
iSF
iFF
iCF
ixG
Sh%
iBLK
GIVE
TAKE
iHF
iHA
iPEN±
FO±

Morgan Rielly
20-21
TOR
D
55
1078.95
4
21
74
109
160
3.61
5.41
54
64
18
60
132
-5
0

Tj Brodie
20-21
TOR
D
56
1053.38
1
11
40
62
96
1.58
2.5
75
45
19
28
99
0
0

Justin Holl
20-21
TOR
D
55
984.1
2
17
52
75
109
2.2
3.85
60
33
14
72
126
-1
0

Jake Muzzin
20-21
TOR
D
53
950.8
2
22
86
115
169
2.85
2.33
68
49
19
91
138
-5
0

Mitch Marner
20-21
TOR
C
55
904.07
17
47
108
143
195
11.6
15.74
34
53
42
19
45
-1
-1

Auston Matthews
20-21
TOR
C
52
889
30
49
167
225
260
18.11
17.96
40
42
40
56
57
7
34

John Tavares
20-21
TOR
C
56
831.3
12
33
119
155
196
12.8
10.08
27
49
30
44
75
9
62

William Nylander
20-21
TOR
C
51
697.93
11
27
100
137
167
11.37
11
15
33
29
12
61
1
2

Alex Kerfoot
20-21
TOR
C
56
674.1
6
18
59
77
100
6.41
10.17
28
25
14
38
115
3
-43

Ilya Mikheyev
20 …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

BJN Radio – Ep. 40: Rock Bottom

Woooof, that’s about as bad as it gets.

We had these games against bad teams like the Detroit Tigers circled on the calendar for months as an opportunity for the Blue Jays to finally smack somebody around and hit their stride. That didn’t happen this weekend.
Despite getting three strong starts — an ace performance from Robbie Ray, a vintage Hyun Jin Ryu outing, and a strong showing from Steven Matz — the Blue Jays couldn’t hit anything the Tigers threw at them. Worst of all, they couldn’t hit Drew Hutchison, who none of us knew was still in the league just a few weeks ago.
We talked about that miserable series, the team’s lack of clutch and killer instinct, and tried to come up with some positives. It wasn’t easy!
You can listen to the episode here…

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

A mediocre West Coast swing results in the Blue Jays losing ground in the wild-card race

There’s just about no room for error for the Blue Jays at this point.

In order for this team to make the playoffs, they’re going to have to hop over two teams from the group consisting of the Red Sox, Yankees, and Athletics.
This week was a disappointing one for the Blue Jays. They went into Anaheim and split a four-game series with a mediocre Angels squad and then they dropped two of three in Seattle with another ho-hum team. The Seattle series pretty nicely encapsulated the general, overarching 2021 Blue Jays energy, as the team had a pair of bullpen meltdowns and saw a key player leave a game due to an injury.
Here’s what happened elsewhere in the race…

The Yankees took two of three from a shitty Royals team and then also took two of three from the White Sox, though they hilariously blew the Field of Dreams game after putting up a four-run ninth inning. New York is 65-52.
The Red Sox started off the week facing the Rays, which is a bit of a difficult one for us to choose sides on. At this stage, the American League East feels out of reach, …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation