Tweaking the league’s second best powerplay

Despite having one of the best powerplays this season, the Toronto Maple Leafs have really struggled to create chances at times. It can be incredibly frustrating to watch Mitch Marner shoot the puck in the middle of goalies’ chests, but it’s just as frustrating to see Morgan Rielly take one-timers from the right side when the ideal person to do so is Auston Matthews.
After Saturday night against the Oilers, the Leafs had the league’s best powerplay percentage at 33.3%, with Chicago, Buffalo, Washington, and Dallas just behind them. Since the 2018/19 season, the Leafs have trailed Tampa, Boston, Edmonton, and Florida, who have had a powerplay percentage of 24% or better. That’s not to say the Leafs’ 23.8% effectiveness is bad, but they don’t look as dominant as Tampa or Boston have been in recent years.
One of the constants that could change is how the Leafs generate a number of chances from the middle of the slot and the right side of the ice. We can point to Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner for that, as the two send the puck towards the net from the right side of the ice a lot more than they do from …

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Author: Matthew Henriques / The Leafs Nation

Top KHL Free Agents in 2020-21

The 2nd best hockey league in the world just wrapped up their regular season, 60 Kontinental Hockey League games for teams in Russia, Finland, Belarus, Latvia, Kazakhstan, and China.
The usual suspects sit atop the league with CSKA Moskva and SKA St. Petersburg leading the West, Ak Bars Kazan and Avangard Omsk tops in the East. That’s not what concerns North American teams though, their focus is on poaching the talent that elevates teams to the top of the KHL. Artemi Panarin is the most impactful example, finishing in the top 20 in NHL scoring each season since signing with Chicago in 2015.
In the 5 years or so since Panarin came to North America there has been plenty of other skaters to sign out of the KHL. Not all of them met expectations, or even played a game in the NHL. Still, the opportunity to land an NHL contributor for under $1 million is a massive incentive to scout the KHL. If it takes three tries to land a player like Ilya Mikheyev, NHL clubs should be willing to take three swings.
Before the NHL season started I spent a lot of time watching KHL games and highlights, and narrowed down a list …

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Author: Earl Schwartz / The Leafs Nation

Auston Matthews has 18 goals in 18 games – Rate That Leafs Game

As you see in the title, the Toronto Maple Leafs have one of the best players in the world on their roster. Auston Matthews scored two goals in a game for the 7th time this season and now has 18 goals in 18 games, which is mind-boggling. He’s solidified himself as, in my opinion, the second best player in the NHL behind Connor McDavid.
I do think he’s inching closer to the number one spot though.
Mitch Marner had another great game too as he now has goals in back-to-back games and is second in the NHL with 30 points. The Toronto Maple Leafs defeat the Montreal Canadiens in a game that I’d say was a statement game. Montreal didn’t look good and, well, the Leafs did. I think we can say that Toronto is the best team in the North Division, right?
Anyways though, 18 in 18. I hope you enjoy the video!

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Which Leafs prospect is most likely to become a fan favourite?

Back in December, we ranked the Leafs best prospects in terms of which is most likely to have an impact on the NHL. While it’s exciting to wonder which player might become the next superstar wearing blue and white, there’s one more question that needs to be answered.

Who will be the next fan favourite?
Fan favourites across sports are always fascinating as they are almost never one of the star players. The fan favourite athlete is like the cult classic film of the cinema world, for reasons that can’t quite be explained, a large group of people have latched on and refuse to let go. It’s something that can’t easily be predicted and doesn’t seem to be based around any sort of logic yet today we’re going to attempt the impossible and try to objectively quantify which Maple Leaf prospect will be the next great fan favourite.
The first question we must ask ourselves is simple. What makes a fan favourite?

The answer, however, is not nearly as simple. Fan favourites have come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, positions and skill levels. From Tim Horton, Eddie Shack and Tiger Williams to …

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Author: Filipe Dimas / The Leafs Nation

Mitch Marner is living up to his contract value – Rate That Leafs Game

The Toronto Maple Leafs are the best team in the North Division and that’s a fact. After another win against the Calgary Flames, they improve their record to 6-2-0. Mitch Marner leads the NHL in points, alongside Connor McDavid with 12. And Auston Matthews has four goals in seven games.
Even better though — the Toronto Six have won their first game in franchise history defeating the Boston Pride 2-1. Goals from Brooke Boquist and Mikyla Grant-Mentis pushed them over the top after a close game against a tough team.
To top off the night, Jake Muzzin flipped the puck at Matthew Tkachuk. It had some incredible sauce, which Tkachuk was not happy about. After getting into a scuffle, he would head off the ice slamming the bench door and other things in front of his Flames teammates.
Nature is healing. I hope you enjoy my latest Rate That Leafs Game video!

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

All-Canadian Preview: The Ottawa Senators are the division’s punching bag

One of the best things about the NHL’s realignment for the 2021 season is the fact the Leafs will get to face their baby siblings from Ottawa nine times. That should be nine wins.

The key word here is should. 
Heading into the season, Ottawa is pretty much unanimously projected to finish at the bottom of the All-Canadian Division. But, to be fair to them, the Sens boast a lot of exciting young talent and that could make them more of a pain in the ass than they were last year.
What happened last season…
25-34-12 (62 points), 7th in Atlantic Division 
Goals For: 191 (24th), Goals Against: 243 (30th)
4-7-1 vs Canadian opponents
1-1-0 vs CGY, 1-0-0 vs EDM, 1-1-0 vs MTL, 0-2-1 vs TOR, 1-1-0 vs VAN, 0-2-0 vs WPG
The 2019-20 season was another tanking year in Ottawa.
Since reaching the Eastern Conference Final in 2017, the Sens have completely blown up their roster and have bottomed out in three consecutive seasons. Everyone from that playoff run — Erik Karlsson, Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman, Kyle Turris, etc — is now gone. The final nail in the coffin for the 2017 Sens came in 2020 when J.G. …

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Author: Cam Lewis / The Leafs Nation

Leafs By the Numbers: Denis Malgin

He might just be the best player you forgot the Leafs had. Denis Malgin appeared in just 8 games for the Leafs last season, but there was a time when the 2015 4th rounder was making a name for himself in Florida. More accurately, he was distinguishing himself from Evgeni Malkin. The 2015 draft was a strong one for Switzerland, with Timo Meier going 9th overall and Jonas Siegenthaler in the 2nd round. Still it was Malgin who broke into the NHL first as a 19 year old, with 10 points in 47 games.
Malgin made two appearances for Switzerland at the WJC before being joining the Panthers, tying for the team lead with 7 points in 6 games in 14-15 and leading the team outright the following year with 9 points in 6 games. The diminutive winger was also a teammate of Auston Matthews on the ZSC Lions before coming to North America.
Denis Malgin’s number is 192
That’s how many NHL games Malgin has played to date, and he’s not turning 24 until January. There is no guarantee he hits the 200 milestone this season, at this point it is still unclear if Malgin will remain in Switzerland or if he’s Toronto-bound. My intuition says the former, …

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Author: Earl Schwartz / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Raptors: Looking at a potential Kyle Lowry to L.A. Lakers trade

Toronto Raptors: Looking at a potential Kyle Lowry to L.A. Lakers trade

The Toronto Raptors may be considering whether to trade the best player in franchise history in one Kyle Lowry. However, this off-season has been ripe with crazy rumors surrounding the all-time assist leader and one-time NBA champion point guard. Bleacher Report has released an article involving the Toronto Raptors all-star point guard Kyle Lowry. They have […]
Toronto Raptors: Looking at a potential Kyle Lowry to L.A. Lakers trade – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Jason Mills / Raptors HQ

Are you the 2020 FanSided Sports Fan of the Year?

Are you the 2020 FanSided Sports Fan of the Year?

Are you the best sports fan in the country? Prove it! FanSided is searching for our Fan of the Year and we’re giving away awesome prizes. We’re all fans of something. Here at FanSided, that fan spirit is what brings us to work every day, working to connect your fan communities with the stories that […]
Are you the 2020 FanSided Sports Fan of the Year? – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Ian Levy / Raptors HQ

Teoscar Hernández has gone full Bo Bichette

No matter how you slice it, Teoscar Hernández has been one of the best power hitters in baseball this season.

He ranks in the top 15 of home runs, slugging percentage, isolated slugging, and his 95.5mph exit velocity places him in the top five in baseball alongside Fernando Tatís Jr. Miguel Sanó, Juan Soto, and Gregory Polanco.
And this more than just a small sample blip. Since June 5th, 2019, when Teoscar made his return from a demotion to the minors, he has hit .259/.323./.567 with 30 home runs, in 105 games. That translates to a .366 wOBA and a 130wRC+, per Fangraphs. His .308 ISO (slugging percentage minus batting average) of .308 ties him with José Ramírez and Aaron Judge for fifth in baseball. For context, the four hitters above Hernandez are Jorge Soler, Soto, Nelson Cruz, and Mike Trout. If that wasn’t enough Teoscar’s average exit velocity of 92.9mph places him eighth among qualified hitters.
So yeah Teoscar has some serious power. What’s kept him from tapping into that power and becoming a more consistent power hitter, has been the swing and miss in his game. He strikes out way too much. …

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Author: Paul Berthelot / Blue Jays Nation