Playoff Preview: What makes this Leafs team different? The defense

The forwards are what gets the attention and can break a game open, especially with the Leafs elite talent up front. The goaltending can singlehandedly win and lose you games, something we learned with Andersen and Campbell this season. But, that’s always been a trait of past Leafs teams in this era.
So, why is this team so much different and looked at as so much stronger than past teams? It’s been the upgrades on defense that have been slowly made over the last few seasons for it to be what it is now. Between both the personnel and the systems set in place to help them succeed, it’s created one of the best defensive teams we’ve seen in a long time, especially in the cap era, becoming a top 10 team in goal, shot, and expected goal suppression, something we haven’t seen in a while.
Unlike the forward group, the defense has been relatively consistent all season, with very few changes and even fewer injuries meaning we saw relatively the same group.
Morgan Rielly & TJ Brodie
Technically, this is the team’s top pair due to the fact that they play the most, but …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

News and Notes: Nash will start skating soon, Sandin getting a longer look, Andersen nearing return

News and Notes: Nash will start skating soon, Sandin getting a longer look, Andersen nearing return

The Leafs’ three-day break is nearing its end and their tilt against the Canadiens is nearly 24 hours away at the time of writing. Tuesday’s practice saw a few interesting tidbits of information become available regarding how the team’s lineups could look heading down the stretch.
First, one of the acquisitions from the deadline is nearly ready to begin practicing with his new teammates.

While he doesn’t have specifics, Sheldon Keefe said he expects Riley Nash to begin skating with the Leafs this week.
— Joshua Kloke (@joshuakloke) April 27, 2021

Riley Nash is currently on the sidelines due to a knee sprain he suffered back on April 4th. That proved to be his final game as a Blue Jacket since he was traded to the Leafs for a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2022 draft, which would become a sixth if he plays in 25% of Toronto’s playoff games.
Speaking of playoffs, that is likely when Nash makes his Leafs debut due to it being three weeks into his projected six-week recovery period his clearance would likely be around the time the postseason begins. It’s also because his $2.75 million salaries would not fit onto the Leafs currently as they would be …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

Leafs willing to trade top prospects and other notes from Kyle Dubas’ media availability

With the Leafs in the midst of a break in their schedule, general manager Kyle Dubas spoke to the media on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the first half of the season and the Leafs’ plans leading up to trade deadline day.
Dubas opened his virtual presser with some praise for his group, saying he believes the current standings are an accurate representation of how they have performed thus far. Despite some recent struggles, the Leafs still sit atop the North Division standings heading into a two game set with the Flames this weekend.

Dubas (before questions): “The standings are a fair indication of our overall quality in the first half of the season.” Will explore trade options prior to deadline. #Leafs
— Terry Koshan (@koshtorontosun) March 16, 2021

Though the Leafs haven’t gotten the desired results as of late, Dubas believes his team his still played well for the most part and that this recent slide is an opportunity for his group to grow through a bit of adversity.
Even in recent losses, this Leafs team hasn’t wilted the way we’ve seen some past rosters do when things aren’t going well. The team is sticking with it and battling …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Raptors: Pass or Pursue on forgotten big Kevin Love

Toronto Raptors: Pass or Pursue on forgotten big Kevin Love

Now that the All-Star Break has come and gone, the Toronto Raptors can get on with the second half of their season. The team has had many obstacles to overcome this season, some self-imposed and others through no fault of their own. The COVID-19 flare-up that affected the team almost two weeks ago has not cleared […]
Toronto Raptors: Pass or Pursue on forgotten big Kevin Love – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Jason Mills / Raptors HQ

Ranking the 10 worst times the Leafs blew a lead since 2000

I hate to break this to you, but last night really did happen. We really did witness the Toronto Maple Leafs blow a 5-1 lead to the last-place Ottawa Senators before losing 6-5 in overtime. Here’s the worst part: it’s not the most embarrassing blown lead for Toronto since the turn of the millennium.
Believe it or not, this is not the first time the Leafs had a big lead over their opponent only to let it slip away in spectacular fashion. Rarely does Toronto recover and win the game, but often fans are left with feelings of anger and sadness. Then they go through weeks, months, and years with the continued dread of questioning why they chose to support such a cursed franchise.
And because these things have continued to happen solely to the Leafs, I was compelled enough to make this graphic:

Experience Leafs Hockey! pic.twitter.com/FbNx147isO
— Michael (@TheLeafsIMO) February 16, 2021

It got me wondering what really was the worst blown lead the team was on the receiving end of and which game do fans point to when their therapist asks when the pain first started. So I’m going to try and do …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

Leafs look to have another strong game against Canucks

Going into their four day break, there were many concerns that the Leafs performance was a bit deceiving do to their xGF numbers and reliance on the power play for their offense. But after a bit of rest and a strong game against the Canucks that saw them dominate for all three periods, there’s a bit less concern.
We saw a pretty entertaining first game in this three game series against the Canucks, as all the Leafs big guns showed up, highlighted by Matthews’ two goals and Marner & Nylander’s three point games. But there was no bigger story than Jason Spezza’s hat trick, which I bet you probably didn’t have on your bingo cards for this season.
The Leafs look to continue this strong play from the big guys and the depth players tonight, while the Canucks look to put an end to a three game losing streak. Of their six wins, only two of them have come against teams with an above .500 record, while three of them have come from the Senators. They’ll be looking to get a win against one of the few competitive teams in the division.
Lineups
Toronto Maple Leafs



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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Practice Shenanigans: Kerfoot returns, Engvall hurts Sandin, Petan cracks the fourth line

The Leafs are nearing the end of a five-day break and are set to host the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday. Today’s practice saw quite a lot of things happen, so let’s break it all down.
After missing practice on Tuesday for what appeared to be an ailment, Alexander Kerfoot returned to the main group and restored balance in the universe.

Alex Kerfoot is on the ice ahead of #Leafs practice, in a regular white sweater.
He missed yesterday’s practice with an ailment of some sort.
— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) February 3, 2021

Sheldon Keefe told reporters that Kerfoot was listed as day-to-day so it makes sense that he wouldn’t be out for long if he were to miss Thursday’s game. It appears that whatever was bothering him is now just a memory and should return to his usual spot as the third-line centre.
Sandin leaves early because of Engvall
Rasmus Sandin said he’s been getting frustrated with not drawing into the Leafs’ lineup through the first ten games. Taking a puck to the face and exiting practice prematurely doesn’t help matters.

Rasmus Sandin leaving #Leafs practice early after Pierre Engvall got him in the face …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Raptors: 3 things to watch for against the new-look Suns

Toronto Raptors: 3 things to watch for against the new-look Suns

The Toronto Raptors will be looking to break their losing ways against the Phoenix Suns tonight. It’s odd to say that the Toronto Raptors are looking for their second win, six games into the season. After all the winning basketball we have been accustomed to with the Raptors, we never even considered the thought of […]
Toronto Raptors: 3 things to watch for against the new-look Suns – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Alexandro Fidanza / Raptors HQ

The Everything Leafs Podcast: The Leafs are back in town

After a two month break, we are back with a new episode! Training camp has started and the Leafs know their first-round opponent, the Columbus Blue Jackets. Kevin Papetti and I break down a number of different topics as we get ready for hockey in August!
Here is the full itinerary for the episode:
2:57 Training camp: Keefe’s Top six forwards
7:24 Bottom six forwards
15:40 Defensive pairings
21:00 Powerplay setup
27:00 Brief preview of the Columbus Blue Jackets
32:00 A look at the Leafs offseason with the flat cap
44:45 Which play-in series are you most excited for?
48: 20 Does this playoff format help or hurt the Leafs?
53:20 Thank you to Paul Hendrick
Where Can You Listen:
Soundcloud

Spotify

Apple Podcasts:
https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/episode-nineteen-the-leafs-are-back-in-town/id1484994398?i=1000485169256
You can find us on twitter at:
Nick DeSouza: @NickDeSouza_
Kevin Papetti: @KPapetti

Stay safe and thanks for listening!

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Author: Nick DeSouza / The Leafs Nation

CBA Update: Entry Level Contracts

Each season we see a new crop of rookies break into the National Hockey League, and each season it seems the group grows larger and more talented. Players like Auston Matthews, Connor McDavid, and Jack Eichel sign their ELCs immediately after they are drafted, then immediately become top players in the league.
Those players are the exception though, every year there are 200 players drafted that take a different path in their first season after being drafted. Timothy Liljegren and Rasmus Sandin jumped to the American Hockey league, Nicolas Robertson and Mikhail Abramov returned to the CHL, Pontus Holmberg remained in Europe. For these players an ELC is something that must be worked towards and negotiated, the first step in a long process of making it to the NHL.
Regardless of which group a young player falls into, the upper limit on their contracts were virtually the same for a very long time. Any player drafted beginning in 2011 had a maximum ELC of $925,000, with Schedule A performance bonuses of $850,000. and Schedule B performance Bonuses of $2m. The minimum ELC would be equal to the minimum league salary, which has comparatively changed a lot over the same period. When the current CBA …

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Author: Earl Schwartz / The Leafs Nation