The TLN Three Stars: Depleted Leafs cruise by Columbus in game that was not as close as the score suggests

After a weekend of disappointment, (and a truly embarrassing display of just how fake tough the Jets are, yeah I said it,) the Leafs get back to the win column tonight in a 5-4 victory that can be best described as bittersweet in light of how it ended and the news of the Spezza suspension coming down mid-game.
So, let’s focus in on the game here, and… I’ll be honest, there was never really a point in this game where I thought the Leafs were out of it. Now, let’s take that into context: with four regulars from the roster out of the lineup (Spezza, Marner, Sandin and Dermott), this game ended up featuring the NHL debuts of two Marlies call-ups in Alex Steeves and Kristians Rubins, and even with that factoring into the game, the Leafs dominated the majority of this game in my eyes.
A quick note on Rubins: it’s almost poetic that I ended up covering tonight’s game, given that I cover the Newfoundland Growlers on a day-to-day basis and Rubins has now become the first full-time member of a Growlers team to make his NHL debut, and hopefully, the first of …

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Author: Dylan Murphy / The Leafs Nation

30 hours until the trade deadline, where are the Leafs at?

The Leafs are coming off one of their most embarrassing losses in the almost 30 years I’ve been following this team, and that’s a less than ideal way to head into the trade deadline. The Leafs have 19 games left on the schedule, and barely clinging to a playoff spot, with the Panthers having a game at hand. Not ideal.
The Leafs are bubble defined. They aren’t really in a position where being aggressive buyers makes sense, but selling off while in a playoff spot isn’t going to be particularly well received. Striking the balance will be a challenge for Kyle Dubas and company, but it’s not one he has the luxury of screwing up. If there is one thing everyone can agree on, it’s that the Leafs aren’t a team that should be standing pat, and there’s something broken with the team.
What’s been done so far?
Jack Campbell
Trevor Moore
Kyle Clifford
Mason Marchment
Denis Malgin
Aaron Luchuk
Max Veronneau
Ben Harpur
Miikko Salomaki
3rd Rd (2020)

3rd Rd (2021*
Yeah, so other than Campbell that’s a whole lot of …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Twins crush Blue Jays in lopsided home series

In the team’s most embarrassing series since the early-season four-game sweep at the hands of the Cleveland Indians, the Blue Jays were pummeled by the Minnesota Twins (23-12) this week at Rogers Centre, getting outscored 20-1 overall and suffering some of the most crushing defeats of this young season.
Thanks to slick starting pitching, a relentless offence, and sound defensive performances, the Twins, leaders of the American League Central, were able to easily dismantle the Blue Jays en route to their 10th, 11th, and 12th road wins.
Here’s a look at the good, the bad, and the weird from a bleak trio of games at Rogers Centre:
The Good
Perhaps the only respectable Blue Jays pitching performance of the series came from Aaron Sanchez (7.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 SO, 6 H, 3 BB), who, despite getting into trouble early, managed to give the team some much-needed length in his eighth start of the season. Derek Law (2.0 IP, H, 4 SO) and Tim Mayza (1.0 IP, 3 SO) were also solid in limited innings.
At the plate, perhaps the only hitter with anything to show for this series is Billy McKinney, who launched his first home run of the season to score the team’s only …

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Author: Hayden Godfrey / Blue Jays Nation

Tactical Issues: How will the Raptors and Sixers adjust in Game 3?

After an embarrassing Game 1, the Sixers rebounded and stole Game 2 and home court advantage. Philly’s counters made the Raptors look vulnerable. Can Toronto swing the momentum and win on the road in Game 3? The Philadelphia 76ers showed up in Game 2, and Brett Brown rolled out his coaching adjustments that left Toronto Raptors and Nick Nurse thinking about re-inventing his strategy and rotations for the first time in the post-season.
The Sixers showed up with better defensive intensity, and an overall better game plan compared to their Game 1 performance. They managed to establish Jimmy Butler in Game 2 and even got solid bench contributions without Mike Scott logging a single minute. The Sixers’ rotation continued to massacre the Raptors’ bench unit, even though they were shored up by 1-2 starters for the most part.
It was the Raptors who no-showed in Game 2. Their outside shooting and their bench scoring were non-existent, and the Raptors’ defense was uncharacteristically sloppy in key spots.
Right now, Nurse appears forced to adjust to what the Sixers are doing. Can he respond in his own way? Do the Raptors have the personnel? Let’s get into some tactical issues.
For the Sixers
The Sixers didn’t …

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Author: JD Quirante / Raptors HQ