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

WATCH: Matthews hits double-digit goal plateau with slick deflection past Gibson

Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews scored his team-leading 10th goal of the 2021–22 season during the second period of Sunday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks.

The 24-year-old forward deflected a long shot by TJ Brodie past Ducks goaltender John Gibson to give the Maple Leafs a 1–0 lead at the 7:48 mark of the middle frame.
Michael Bunting picked up the secondary assist on Matthews’ goal. Matthews is the second Maple Leafs player to hit the double-digit mark in goals this season, joining team captain John Tavares (who also has 10).
Here’s the video of the goal, as posted to Twitter by the verified Toronto Maple Leafs account:

3 games3 goals for @AM34 #LeafsForever
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) November 29, 2021

Matthews now has goals in three consecutive games and is on pace for his fourth career 40-goal season.
The Leafs currently lead the Ducks 2–0 late in the second period. Bunting extended the lead just four minutes after Matthews’ opener with his sixth goal in a Toronto sweater.

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Author: Mike Gould / The Leafs Nation

WATCH: Matthews scores two quick goals, including game-winner, in second period against Boston

Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews put forth his third consecutive two-point offering in Saturday’s 5-2 win over the Boston Bruins, scoring back-to-back goals in the second period to help put his team over the top.

Matthews entered Saturday’s game with three goals and six points in eight contests, a relatively slow pace for somebody who scored 41 goals in only 52 games last season.
He looked like his usual self in the second period on Saturday. Matthews scored his first goal of the game with his Leafs tied 1-1 against the Bruins, cashing in on the power play with 5:01 remaining in the middle frame to give his team its first lead of the hockey game.
Mitch Marner fed Matthews all alone in front with a perfect backhand pass after a broken zone entry. Matthews couldn’t receive the pass cleanly but ultimately managed to corral the puck and swat it into the net after it initially bounced off his skate and hit Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark in the pad.
Marner picked up the lone assist on Matthews’ fourth goal of the season.

No. 4⃣ for @AM34!
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) November 7, 2021

Matthews struck again with just …

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Author: Mike Gould / The Leafs Nation

Auston Matthews scores 200th NHL goal to open scoring in Carolina

Auston Matthews is finally on the board.

The 24-year-old centre scored his first goal of the 2021–22 season — and the 200th of his National Hockey League career — in Monday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Matthews entered Monday’s game with zero points in his first three contests of 2021–22. Michael Bunting picked up the lone assist on the goal, which gave the Leafs a 1-0 lead at the 3:25 mark of the first period.
With former Toronto teammate Frederik Andersen between the pipes for the Hurricanes, Matthews picked up the puck at the Carolina goal line and carried the puck behind the net before tucking it past the goaltender on a wrap-around move.
Here’s the video of the goal, as posted by the official Toronto Maple Leafs Twitter account:

Papi puts home No. 2⃣0⃣0⃣#LeafsForever
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) October 25, 2021

Matthews is the 14th player to score 200 goals in a Maple Leafs sweater. He took just 338 games to accomplish the feat, becoming the second-fastest player to do so for Toronto (Charlie Conacher scored 200 goals in 317 games with the Leafs).
The Maple Leafs currently lead the Hurricanes by a 1-0 score during the first period.

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Author: Mike Gould / 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:
— 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

Campbell and the Leafs shut out Oilers offense in 4-0 win

No Matthews, no problem. With their star centre out, there was concern about how the Leafs would match up against Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, and they apparently matched up well still, as they shut out the Oilers in a 4-0 win, thanks to a Jack Campbell 30 save shutout and two point performances from Mitch Marner and John Tavares.
The first period was scary to start, as it seemed like every time Connor McDavid was on the ice, he had a chance to score, but Jack Campbell and the team in front of him held strong. The Leafs would break the ice later in the first on the power play, when Mitch Marner did his thing and skated around with the puck for a while before setting up Nylander for an absolute snipe to make it 1-0.

— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 28, 2021

They quickly added to their lead too, as Marner would cash in again with a goal off a solid rush up the ice from Tavares to make it 2-0, and would give Mitch his 10th goal of the season already.

— Omar (@ …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Mark Shapiro says something big is brewing with Rogers Centre renovations

This past June, Rogers Centre celebrated its 30th anniversary. Unveiled in 1989 as a state-of-the-art multi-use facility, it boasted the largest Jumbotron of its era and encapsulated the “everything to everyone” mantra of professional sports stadiums during the 80s and early 90s.
Skydome also ushered in the end of an era of multi-use stadiums and it’s one of the last of its kind. Four years later, Camden Yards was constructed in 1992 and set forth the new era of retro ballparks; smaller, distinctive and much more conducive to an intimate ballpark experience.
At 27 years old, Camden Yards barely shows its age. The stadium formerly known as Skydome didn’t future proof itself quite as well and it’s very apparent the facility was built during the heyday of Milli Vanilli.
In any other scenario, the merits of building a brand new stadium would be up for debate, but the Blue Jays already have the ideal location on prime real estate near Toronto’s waterfront. In the meantime, the club is working with the concrete bones the Rogers Centre already has.
This year, the Blue Jays made substantial renovations to the 100 and 200 level concourses; the blue and white facings are brighter and …

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Author: Ian Hunter / Blue Jays Nation

It sure sounds like Jason Spezza’s taking a league minimum deal to play in Toronto

A new fourth-line centre? Don’t mind if I do!
Coming in this morning from one Bob McKenzie, the sweetest words one could possibly muster: Jason Spezza is looking to sign a one-year deal as a Toronto Maple Leaf.

Expect hometown boy Jason Spezza to sign a one-year contract with TOR today.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 1, 2019

McKenzie posted a follow-up tweet, stating that the deal is likely to be in the $700k range.
Jason Spezza, as you probably know, has had quite the illustrious career. Just over a point–per-game guy in his time in Ottawa (687 in 686), his five years in Dallas have seen him transition from solid third option to… still useful aging vet. Now 36, Spezza is coming off an eight-goal, 19 assist season while putting up about 13 minutes a night of ice time. Seeing as Frederik Gauthier put up numbers of three goals and 11 assists, we can reasonably expect that Jason Spezza is about twice as good.
After scoring 19 goals and 39 assists in 65 career games against the Leafs,  Spezza can now put up similar numbers in just one age 36 season. Probably.
Hey, here’s a chart! Assuming Gauthier is being replaced, essentially, we can tell via this one graph …

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Author: Adam Laskaris / The Leafs Nation

Teoscar Hernandez is back and apparently he’s going to play some centre field

The Teoscar Experience is migrating to centre field!

The Blue Jays announced today that Hernandez has been recalled from Triple-A Buffalo and that Jonathan Davis will be sent down in a corresponding roster move.

Expect Teoscar Hernandez to play more center this time up. He played CF in 9 of his last 11 starts with Buffalo – biggest assignment since 2017. #BlueJays
— Ben Wagner (@benwag247) June 5, 2019

Hernandez was optioned to Buffalo a few weeks ago thanks largely to a horrific start to the season offensively. Through 39 games, Hernandez was slashing a .189/.262/.299 line, nowhere near what he produced in his decent 2018 rookie season.
He didn’t smash the cover off the ball in Buffalo, or anything, slashing a .253/.313/.480 line over 19 games, but he can’t possibly fare much worse than Jonathan Davis. When he was called up, Davis was Buffalo’s hottest hitter, but he ran into a wall at the Major League level. Through 51 plate appearances, Davis had just seven hits, one for extra bases, and he struck out 13 times while walking just twice.
Hernandez played nine of his 11 games in centre field for Buffalo, so it’ll be interesting to see how that goes. As we know, Hernandez, uh, isn’t exactly known …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Series Preview: The return of Superman

Cue the music, it’s the return of Superman to the Rogers Centre. Kevin Pillar is making his first return to Toronto since he was shipped off to his home-state of California. Pillar comes into this series with 14 hits through 18 games with the Giants. Those 14 hits include two doubles, four home runs along with 13 RBI. However, while it will likely be an emotional night for Blue Jays fans as well as Pillar. This team has actually performed very well without the Man of Steel.
Since Pillar was traded back on April 2, the Blue Jays have a winning percentage of .500%. They currently own a record of 9-9 since the trade, and sit just four games out of first place. Yes, I just said the Blue Jays are close to first place in their division. I know that seems absurd and some of you might think I’m delusional. But this team has actually been playing very good baseball as of late, as they have won seven of their last ten games. So if you’re not too overwhelmed with the Maple Leafs and Raptors playoff games, then you should definitely tune into this two-game series.
Tuesday at 7:07 ET
Trent Thornton will …

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Author: Thomas Hall / Blue Jays Nation