Nick Robertson returns to Marlies practice for the first time since suffering injury in October

The Toronto Marlies welcomed back one of their most important players to practice on Thursday.
Three months after suffering a non-displaced right fibula fracture, Nick Robertson stepped onto the Coca-Cola Coliseum ice. The 20-year-old suffered the injury back in October, just two games into his second AHL season.
On Thursday, he joined the Marlies practice in a red non-contact jersey.

Nick Robertson is on the ice at #Marlies practice today.
— Nick Barden (@nickbarden) January 27, 2022

Robertson participated in almost every drill that had limited contact. But more importantly, the 20-year-old was the final player off the ice during Thursday’s practice.
That’s no surprise.
The Marlies had some of the Maple Leafs development staff out with them once practice came to an end. Robertson spent most of his time after practice tipping pucks and then working on his conditioning.
There’s no word as of yet regarding when he’s scheduled to return to the Marlies lineup, but him returning to practice is a very good sign.
“It feels really good,” said Marlies head coach Greg Moore after being asked how it feels to have Robertson back practicing. “He’s such an awesome person… The little things he’s done during this time to try and level himself up during his time off has been really impressive. So, it’s good to see him out with the guys again, and be a part of the group. He’s a special player and we’re excited for when his return would be.”
The little things are what’s key to be able to return to the lineup and make a difference.
We saw that most recently with Alex Steeves, who worked on a lot of little things ahead of his return to the Marlies lineup. He came out on fire, scoring six points in his first four AHL games.
But what were the little things that Robe …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

State of Raptors’ bench makes Goran Dragic’s departure worse

State of Raptors’ bench makes Goran Dragic’s departure worse

When the Toronto Raptors got Goran Dragic back in the same deal that helped them send Kyle Lowry to the Miami Heat, Nick Nurse thought that he was getting a starting-caliber guard. In fact, he gave the wily veteran an Opening Night start over Gary Trent Jr. After five lackluster games, Dragic put his Toronto […]
State of Raptors’ bench makes Goran Dragic’s departure worse – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

PHF Weekend Review: Toronto dominating Buffalo at hockey in the PHF too

As the Toronto Six get back into action this weekend, it was a weekend full of goals and celebrations for Toronto.
After some roster shakeups earlier in the week, and the weekend prior’s games being postponed, the Six had every excuse to be a little bit flat this weekend. They chose instead to dominate their opponents, the Buffalo Beauts.
Saturday’s game
Here was Toronto’s lineup for the game:

Lineups for this afternoons matchup!
— Toronto Six (@TheTorontoSix) January 15, 2022

And Buffalo’s:

Here is todays #Beauts lineup against the Six! #FortBeaut #PHF : @jsantalucia96
— Buffalo Beauts (@BuffaloBeauts) January 15, 2022

In the first game of the weekend, the first action for the Six players since 2021, Toronto came out strong early with a 3-0 lead. Rookie Leah Marino started it off with her second goal of the season on a great primary assist by fellow rookie Stephanie Sucharda:

Leah Marino gives the Toronto Six the early lead!
— PHF (@PHF) January 15, 2022

Less than 4 minutes later, the team’s superstar Mikyla Grant-Mentis picked up a loose puck from a shot block by, I think, Saroya Tinker, and blows by Buffalo’s defence to beat Carly Jackson for what was called an unassisted goal:

Grant-Mentis because of course she did! 2-0 Toronto Six!
— PHF (@PHF) January 15, 2022

Then, about 5 minutes before the end of the first, Toronto’s first ever draft selection Amy Curlew roofs her first goal of the season on a slick backhand, cleaning up a bit of a mess in front of the net. This goal comes with very well-earned assists by Natalie Marcuzzi, who rejoined the team recently, and captain Shiann Darkangelo:

Amy Curlew with a wicked backhander top shelf!
— PHF (@PHF) January 15, 2022

Into the second period, Beauts goalie Carly Jackson tries to put pressure on Meagan Beres as she tries to cap off the 3-on-2 rush, the puck slides past Jackson and it looks like Stephanie Sucharda taps it into the net, but the goal was credited to Beres (Sucharda still gained an assist on the play). The team gave her a “1st goal” puck so perhaps that will get changed. Take a look and see who you think scored it:

The Toronto Six are putting on a show for the viewers on TSN 4!
— PHF (@PHF) January 15, 2022

That was all the action for this 2nd period. Into the 3rd period, Toronto’s Taylor Day got one, then Buffalo followed up with one to make it 5-1, but Toronto squashed any hope of a comeback pretty quickly with Leah Marino‘s second goal of the night, and six goals on the night for the Six:

Leah Marino scores again and the Six have six!
— PHF (@PHF) January 15, 2022

That’s how the game would end, with the Six taking down the Beauts 6-1. Here were the 3 stars for the game:

Sunday’s game
Toronto’s lineup was unchanged except for Tera Hofmann getting her first start with Toronto:

Congratulations to @TeraHofmannnn who gets her first start as a member of the #T6
— Toronto Six (@TheTorontoSix) January 16, 2022

And Buffalo made a few alterations after Saturday’s crushing defeat:

Here’s todays lineup against Toronto Six!! #LetsGo #FortBeaut #PHF: @jsantalucia96
— Buffalo Beauts (@BuffaloBeauts) January 16, 2022

You would think that it would be difficult to follow up such a dominant performance with another one, but the Six did exactly that.
After the Beauts opened the scoring, assistant captain Emma Woods with this bar down snipe on the powerplay:

Emma Woods goes bardown on the power play!
— PHF (@PHF) January 16, 2022

Toronto scored another one on the powerplay, and then the Beauts scored a couple on Toronto to make it 3-2 at the end of the 1st.
Those would be the last goals Buffalo would score this weekend, as the Six ran the show for the remaining two periods. First, Emma Woods got her second of the night, then it was Brooke Boquist finishin …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

Blue Jays sign International Free Agent catcher Luis Meza

Baseball news is back. Sadly, the lockout hasn’t ended, but regardless, there is still news!

On January 15th, it was announced that the Toronto Blue Jays signed right-handed batter Luis Meza, a 17-year-old catcher from Venezuela. The young lad signed for a bonus of 2.25 million, which accounts for 48.44% of the Jays international bonus pool of 4,644,000.
According to a scouting report that Shi Davidi received, Mesa is an advanced, two-way catcher, who has a loose swing and understands the strike zone well. He has offensive upside, but has a good arm and can “really catch”.

This is the scouting report I got on Meza: Really advanced, two-way catcher, good hitter with loose swing and strong feel for the strike zone, can really catch and throw with offensive upside.
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) January 15, 2022

According to MLB Pipeline, he has above average receiving skills, as well as impressive blocking skills. Meza also has a high baseball IQ, meaning he reads the game well, especially for a teenager. Luis will continue to grow into his frame, which could lead to more power generated from his bat. Furthermore, he has the ability to barrel the ball and uses all parts of the field. 
The young Venezuelan is ranked as the 33rd best available international free agent. Below are his five tool grades, 20 being the worst, 80 being the best.
Hit: 50
Power: 50
Run: 45 (Editor’s note, that’s a catcher with a 45 run tool, that is crazy)
Arm: 50
Field: 55
Overall: 50
While the scouting report remains relatively the same as Pipeline’s and Davidi’s, Baseball America is far more generous. While MLB Pipeline ranks Luis Meza as the 33rd best …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

News from the Rink: Ondrej Kaše probable for re-joining the Maple Leafs tonight, Campbell starts tonight and Mrazek tomorrow

The Leafs are back at it tonight in Las Vegas. A locale that the red hot Auston Matthews has thrived in…

After a long series of NHL/World Junior postponements, @rayferrarotsn and I are back with Toronto/VGK tonight on TSN4 for viewers in the Maple Leafs region. Toronto won the 1st meeting 4-0 at home Nov 2, Auston Matthews @AM34 scored twice, has 7 goals in 6 GP vs Vegas.
— Gord Miller (@GMillerTSN) January 11, 2022

With seven goals in six games in Vegas, and with Matthews just four goals off the Rocket Richard lead it would be great to see him take a run at Draisaitl’s spot while the Oilers play just once in the next couple of weeks.

Keefe says Kase felt good through the night that he didn’t feel he had to skate this morning. One of those injuries that can flare up at any moment so he is still a game-time decision. Team will have an extra forward at warmup in case.
— David Alter (@dalter) January 11, 2022

The return of Kase is a good sign for the Leafs as he was taking line rushes with Auston Matthews’ line in yesterday’s practice. If he’s unable to go, I’d assume we’ll see the lines revert to what worked for the early part of the game against Colorado on Saturday. Tomorrow is a different situation as Marner and Engvall could potentially leave COVID Protocol, and it’s likely we see something more typical for the Leafs with Marner on the top line and Kase reunited with Kampf.
(Full Leafs lines can be found below.)

Holl on being one of the few #Leafs who has not had COVID: “It’s one of those deals where you’re pretty much powerless. If you’re going to get it, you’re going to get it … I really don’t think about it day to day, but long term, I would hate to get it at a bad time.”
— Terry Koshan (@koshtorontosun) January 11, 2022

As Engvall and Marner prepare to leave the COVID protocol it’s important to note who still hasn’t been in it. Auston Matthews just dodged it, and there’s also Justin Holl. Consid …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

News from the Rink: Nick Ritchie returns to Leafs practice, Jack Campbell to start vs. Canucks

The Leafs are back on the ice today after a day of rest following a 5-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers.
Today, they’re in Vancouver.
It’s been an unfortunate week for the NHL, as COVID-19 cases increased throughout the league. Many teams are getting hit hard, especially the Calgary Flames, who the Leafs were supposed to face tonight.
COVID has also hit the Canucks — the team Toronto is supposed to play on Saturday.
As of right now, four players are out for Vancouver, as well as one of their assistant coaches. The team is in San Jose for their scheduled game tonight against the Sharks.
I’m not going to lie — this serves up an interesting question. Will the Leafs play the Canucks on Saturday night?
You would think so at this point if Vancouver is travelling to San Jose. However, the Omicron variant can spread quickly. The NHL did put new protocols in place to make it safer, but there’s still the chance it can spread.
And for the Leafs, they’ve been a team that hasn’t had one case in-season. Like every team, you’d like to keep it that way. Hopefully, they and …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

News from the Rink: Mrázek to start tomorrow night, Mikheyev close to return

The Leafs are back at Ford Performance Centre for a day of practice before they face Chicago on Saturday night.
It’s been a tough week for Toronto. The Leafs have won one game in their last four and have picked up three points of a possible eight. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but after Thursday night’s loss to Tampa, Sheldon Keefe discussed how costly mistakes are against teams like the Lightning.
“They played the game we thought they would in terms of counter-punching,” Keefe said. “I think the biggest thing, though, is just their team doesn’t make those kind of mistakes. They got those mistakes out of their game a few years ago and won a couple cups since. Our team’s gotta figure out when we want to get rid of those mistakes.”
Friday was another day at practice for the Leafs to get on the other side of that.
Leafs lines at practice:
Here are how the lines shaped up at practice, and as you can see, there are a few additions.

#Leafs lines at practice Dec. 10/21
Bunting-Matthews-KaseKerfoot -Tavares-NylanderRitchie-Kampf-SimmondsMikheyev-Engvall-Clifford
Extra: Steeves, Spezza^
Rielly-BrodieMuzzin-Liljegren Rubins-HollDermott*-Biega
— David Alter (@dalter) December 10, 2021

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

A.J. Cole has signed in Japan

A.J. Cole won’t be back with the Blue Jays next season.

The veteran righty has reportedly inked a one-year deal worth $840,000 with the Tokyo Swallows of Japan’s NPB.
Cole signed as a minor-league free agent with the Blue Jays back in November of 2019 and was an effective arm for the team during the COVID-shortened 2020 season. He was again brought back on a minor-league deal for 2021 and got off to a great start, allowing just one earned run in eight innings, but his season got derailed due to injury.
Cole dealt with neck tightness and an oblique strain and only wound up pitching 20 innings in total, eight in the big leagues and 12 in the minors.
There was some thought that Cole could join the team on another minor-league deal but it isn’t surprising to see him take a decent bag of cash and a more guaranteed role in Japan.

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Leafs lose second straight in chippy affair with the Jets

After clawing back from a 3-0 deficit to earn a point in Minnesota on Saturday evening, the Leafs’ second straight comeback bid fell short against the Jets on Sunday night but they showed a different kind of resolve, despite losing their second consecutive game. More concerning than the two points they were unable to claim is the potential loss of Rasmus Sandin who was forced to leave the game in the third period and was unable to return, but more on that in a minute.
Winnipeg has struggled to find offense as of late but were coming off of an 8-4 win over New Jersey in their last game and they continued the offensive onslaught against Toronto on Sunday. The Jets opened the scoring early in the first period with Wayne Simmonds sitting in the box for slashing but the Leafs were able to kill off another Jets powerplay opportunity shortly after to help settle the game down. Pierre-Luc Dubois was called for an offensive zone tripping penalty late in the period and after the Leafs’ top unit was unable to generate anything of consequence, Pierre Engvall found Michael Bunting out front to tie the game with the powerplay winding …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

Raptors injuries expose flaws in how Masai Ujiri built this roster

Raptors injuries expose flaws in how Masai Ujiri built this roster

The Toronto Raptors were excited to be back home when the season started, as it meant finally playing on their true home court after a season in Tampa. Scottie Barnes seems to be a promising draft pick, as his energy and intensity in pre-season made Raptors fans hopeful for the future. The Raptors may have […]
Raptors injuries expose flaws in how Masai Ujiri built this roster – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Alaa Alarashi / Raptors HQ