The Blue Jays, in what felt like their first home game of 2021, beat the Marlins

It feels good to be back home close-ish to home!
Robbie Ray put together a great start, the bullpen was good, Vladdy hit a three-run homer, and, most importantly, Sahlen Field was packed with Blue Jays fans. That’s a nice sight.

Things worth mentioning…

Robbie Ray had a nice bounce-back after his first rough outing of the season last week at Yankee Stadium. Ray went six innings, allowing one earned run on six hits and two walks while striking out nine. The one run that Miami scored came on a double by Starling Marte that prooooooooobably should have been caught by Gold Glove Nominee Lourdes Gurriel. All in all, excellent stuff from Ray.
Since I pointed out that Gurriel had an ugly go in the outfield, I should also mention that he made up for it with the stick, going 3-for-4 with a solo dinger. The star of the day offensively, though, was Vlad Jr., who put together a 4-for-4 day at the plate with a three-run bomb. The crowd starting doing an MVP chant for Vladdy and also gave him a standing ovation when he ripped from first to third on a ground out by Teoscar Hernandez. Vladdy …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Win it for JT

It still feels weird getting ready for a game. I think I can speak for a lot of Leafs Nation when I say that it feels like there’s stuff much bigger than the game going on. Tavares’ injury made me lose all interest in game 1, and for the most part, that’s carried into the second game.
But, Tavares is out of the hospital, and has been cleared of all structural damage to his head, neck, and spine. It’s still a concussion and a knee injury for him, and he’s still probably not going to play in the playoffs, but Tavares is for the most part okay, although I can only imagine how scary that must have been for him.

An update on @MapleLeafs captain John Tavares.
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) May 21, 2021

However, the games must go on. The Leafs find themselves down 1-0 in the series, even though it’s not a loss you can fault them on. But, there are lots of things to go off of in this game. They ended up being the better team as far as driving play and generating scoring chances, although they didn’t generate …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

William Nylander should take over the 2C role

It feels weird to be writing this article. When that collision happened last night, it took me right out of the game. I just didn’t really care about the result anymore, all I cared about was how John Tavares was doing. That was so much bigger than this game.
I can’t even get mad at any of the players. Sure, Joe Thornton made two big turnovers in the offensive zone that led to both goals for the Habs. Sure, Jack Campbell probably could have not left his crease, something that didn’t help one of the goals, and nearly gave the Habs another. But, I can’t fault any of the player’s decision making because they obviously had bigger things on their mind.
The reason why I’m writing this article is not because my mind immediately went to “how can we replace him adequately”. I’m writing this because amidst that game on Thursday, where I was sick to my stomach from anxiety, William Nylander’s play was one of the positive takeaways from that game that grounded me and took my mind off the stress I was going through.
Now, I will address the elephant …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

TLN Three Stars: The “Dirty” Leafs demolish the “Clean” Jets

So this is what it feels like to be the team that gets under the skin of the opponent.
The Leafs were getting at the ire of the Jets during a scrappy win on Thursday night that snapped Toronto’s five-game losing streak. Forty-eight hours later, the same scenario occurred and the Leafs got the same result.
Jack Campbell allowed the first shot to get past him in the opening minute but remained solid the rest of the way. Joe Thornton then used his long reach to tuck in the tying marker that rewrote the Leafs’ record book before Mitch Marner got a lucky bounce that went his way.

— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) April 24, 2021

John Tavares scored to increase the lead to two and that’s when the real fun began. Things started to get chippy as the game progressed with both teams taking runs at each other. Some of the plays were called while others were not, but the two have bad blood boiling right before our eyes.
A slow third period saw some life when Thornton and Nikolaj Ehlers took runs at each other numerous times, capped off with a devastating slash from …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

Jack Campbell goes for NHL record as Toronto Maple Leafs take on the Ottawa Senators

So this is what having a top tier goalie feels like?
Since arriving in Toronto, Jack Campbell has given Toronto Maple Leafs fans a feeling they haven’t felt in nearly 20 years, a sense of trust in the ability to win low-scoring games as much as they can win high scoring ones. Tonight he’ll be looking for his 11th straight win to start the season which would set the all-time NHL record, breaking a current tie with Carey Price.
Standing in his way are the Ottawa Senators who despite their position at the bottom of the North Division have refused to roll over against the Leafs, winning three of seven games between the two Ontario rivals. In a year where the draft lacks a clear franchise player, there’s been less of a push for bottom feeding teams to tank, so the young Senators have been playing for pride and developing their future stars in Thomas Chabot, Brady Tkachuk, and Tim Stützle.
If Toronto wants to prove to the rest of the league that it deserves a position at the top of the standings, they will have to show that they can dominant games when necessary. A game against …

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Author: Filipe Dimas / The Leafs Nation

Why is Teoscar Hernández Striking out so much?

The Blue Jays record of 3-4 feels a little disappointing after they took two of three from the Yankees in New York to start the year. The pitching and defence which was of concern for everyone, has been solid, it’s the offense or lack thereof that has hurt them.

Blue Jays batters set a franchise record for the most strikeouts thru the first 7 games of a season (72)
They struck out 71 times thru the first 7 games of 2016.
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) April 9, 2021

The Blue Jays aren’t quite as bad as Baltimore who lead the league with 91 strikeouts, but for a team that wants to contend they need to improve. It would be one thing if Gerrit Cole got them for 12 strikeouts in the opener, you could tip your cap to one of the best pitchers in the league. But seeing the hitters get mowed down by arms like Dane Dunning and Kyle Gibson is slightly alarming.
The biggest culprit of this is Teoscar Hernández. Hernández has struck out 14 times this season, tied with Tyler O’Neill and Miguel Sano for the league lead. Teoscar has had 29 plate appearances and has struck out in just under half of them. Hernández is …

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Author: Paul Berthelot / Blue Jays Nation

Ilya Mikheyev scores first goal of the season in Leafs win – Rate That Leafs Game

It really feels like we’re on top of the world, doesn’t it?
The Toronto Maple Leafs win yet again. This time defeating the second-best team in the North Division — the Montreal Canadiens. I’d say this was one of the tougher games the Maple Leafs have had this season and that was expected.
Josh Anderson scored first for the Canadiens before Toronto would score three-straight from Travis Dermott, Justin Holl and Ilya Mikheyev. Frederik Andersen had a shaky start, but finished the game smoothly. Auston Matthews continued his dominance, but not in scoring goals as the 23-year-old has points in 11th-straight games. Even Jake Muzzin wanted in on the action tallying three assists.
The Maple Leafs play Montreal again on Saturday, so you better be ready. I definitely am.
Here’s my latest video — discussing this game and what the Maple Leafs should do going forward. I hope you enjoy (and subscribe too).

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Leafs by the Numbers: Travis Dermott

It feels like Travis Dermott has been around for a long time. After all, the Leafs drafted him way back in the second round of the 2015 draft and a lot has changed for this organization since then. The fact is Dermott has still only scratched the surface of what he is capable of in the NHL, having turned 24 years old yesterday but still with just 157 regular season games of NHL experience due to various health and pandemic related issues.
Entering the 2021 campaign, the number to focus on for Travis Dermott is 4. This will be his fourth NHL season and I believe it will also be the season in which he firmly establishes himself as an effective top four defenseman, despite the multitude of options the Leafs have on their blue line. With Dermott signing a one-year, prove it contract and the Seattle expansion draft looming, Kyle Dubas and his staff will be eager to find out if they can rely on the young, homegrown blue liner as a core piece of their future.
Many believe, and rightfully so, that Justin Holl will get the first crack alongside Jake Muzzin on Toronto’s shutdown pairing to begin the season after they …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

The Leafs’ worst contract is actually Phil Kessel’s retained salary

Although it feels weird to say this in November, we are well into the dog days of the NHL offseason. Meaning we rarely see much news regarding transactions and announcements (with a few notable exceptions) while waiting for the return of hockey on XX/XX/2021.
It also means sports talk radio shows will look to find any sort of content to keep viewer interest up, leading to stuff like this:

Tavares’ contract might be the Leafs’ worst, unless they win.@OverDrive1050 discusses:
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) November 25, 2020

Even if it were true that the Leafs did indeed overspend on John Tavares, he was a free agent back in 2018 and could have easily accepted the San Jose Sharks’ offer of $13 million per season but instead took less to play for his hometown team. We don’t even need to get into whether or not the Leafs overpaid Mitch Marner on his extension.
Instead of responding with anger and fury over this take from the OverDrive team, I would like to instead present a counter-argument. As the title of this post outlines, the actual worst contract on the Leafs is Phil Kessel’s retained salary.

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

Leafs players who have a realistic shot at representing Canada at the 2022 Olympics

It feels like I’m a month removed from being annoyed by TSN and Sportsnet filling time during the draft and free agency discussing their mock rosters for the 2022 Canadian Olympic Men’s Hockey Team. Alas, there are no more draft picks, free agents, or trades incoming at the moment, so it’s time that I too take a trip to that content well, and consider what Leafs could be representing their country at the Olympics.
Rather than start with the international players and work towards Canada, it seems much more fitting to kick this off with the country most of our readership will be excited about. Latvia. Canada. And while the Leafs haven’t been fond of drafting Canadians in the past couple of seasons, there are a number of Canadians on the Leafs, and many of them play at a high enough level to be considered.

So both Craig Button and Mike Johnson weighed in with their rosters, and to the joy of Leafs fans it appears that both Morgan Rielly and Mitch Marner would be on their Team Canada rosters. And why shouldn’t they be, statistically the case for both of them is sound.
Morgan Rielly …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation