Another day, another meltdown

The losing streak has reached five games.

Remember when the Blue Jays won their first game of the Boston series earlier this week and then had a chance to get into first place in the American League East with another win? That feels like another lifetime. The team now has a 23-22 record.
Sunday’s game actually looked like a prime opportunity to end the skid. Hyun Jin Ryu took the mound and tossed a gem, allowing just a couple of earned runs over six-and-two-thirds innings. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Teoscar Hernandez reached on an infield single (which could have been scored an error) and then Randal Grichuk put the team up 4-2 with a bomb.
Charlie Montoyo opted to roll with Tyler Chatwood, who had allowed one earned run all season coming into the game, in the ninth inning to close things down.
And then everything went to hell.
Chatwood walked Ji-Man Choi and allowed Brandon Lowe to smack a single. He got Taylor Walls to ground out but then Brett Phillips made the score 4-3 with a single of his own. Chatwood then got Randy Arozarena to line out but then walked Yandy Diaz to …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Marlies and Me: The week of the standouts

The Toronto Marlies have played five games in the last seven days — not a small feat for any team. But they’ve made the most of it — winning three of those five games. As a team, the Marlies are playing some of their best hockey against the top team in their division.
When I look back on Toronto’s season, there’s a lot of growth within the team. Each week, the Marlies bring something new to the table. First it was the success of Joseph Woll, who’s having a great year in the AHL. In the last four games, the 22-year-old has a .923 save percentage and has made some really big saves in key moments for Toronto — like this one:

Joseph Woll with some big saves in the third period for the #Marlies. pic.twitter.com/DUGoRvWWqC
— Nick Barden (@nickbarden) May 15, 2021

Oh, and like this one (which is even better):

Joseph Woll, my god. pic.twitter.com/WrUo9hJbnE
— Nick Barden (@nickbarden) May 9, 2021

“I think I’ve made some big changes both mentally and technically on the ice,” said Woll on Wednesday after a 3-2 win against the Laval Rocket, “that comes from looking at last year and …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Playoff Preview: What to expect from the Leafs forward group

For the last five years of the Leafs making the postseason, the forwards have always been their strong suit. Between that first wave of young talent in 2016 with Matthews, Marner, Nylander, and Hyman, the big fish free agent signing of Tavares in 2018, and the veteran depth of Spezza, Thornton, Simmonds, and Foligno acquired over the last couple seasons, the Leafs have always boasted a strong, deep forward group, highlighted by that high end top six.
This forward group is going to be the key to them winning a playoff series, or even a Stanley Cup. Montreal has a deep lineup of four middle six lines, but it’s their lack of top end talent that the Leafs have that will be key. Edmonton has McDavid and Draisaitl to match that top end talent, but they lack the depth that Toronto has in the bottom six which allows teams to hyperfocus on shutting down that two headed monster on the Oilers.
Having four lines that can generate offense and shut it down defensively (or at least do one of the two very well) is a huge factor to going deep in the playoffs, and that’s been part of the Leafs …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Is Morgan Rielly a must have or a luxury?

In this interesting climate of the Leafs coming off a five losses in six skid, having the flatest caps for the foreseeable future, wanting to make trades, and identifying four young top prospects and the first round draft pick as possible trade chips, it seems like it may be time to once again discuss Morgan Rielly and his place on the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Let’s start with the important qualifier of Morgan Rielly being a top tier offensive defenseman. Since his days in junior he’s always been more of a fourth forward than a defenseman and his ability to drive play up the ice consistently has always made the fact that he doesn’t offer anything positionally in his own end an acceptable outcome.
Rielly’s defensive game warrants criticism, but a big part of his strength does still start in his own zone, as he’s capable of carrying the puck out of his zone or completing a solid pass to give the Leafs a better than average chance of creating a scoring chance at the other end. He is panicked, he’s a quick thinker, and knows how plays develop. It makes sense that he’s …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Raptors: Nick Nurse goes off on bench after brutal Bulls loss

Toronto Raptors: Nick Nurse goes off on bench after brutal Bulls loss

The Toronto Raptors have now lost five straight games, looking just as lifeless against the Chicago Bulls as they have in all of their prior defeats. Head coach Nick Nurse has been given an impossible task given how much firepower Toronto has out. Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, and OG Anunoby have all missed the last […]
Toronto Raptors: Nick Nurse goes off on bench after brutal Bulls loss – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Life without Joe Thornton

It was fun while it lasted, but five games into the Joe Thornton era we are being treated to an indefinite hiatus. It appears that we are looking at weeks rather than days in waiting for his return based on early speculation, and with the recall of Joey Anderson to join the Leafs practice squad there will be some changes coming to the Leafs forward group.

Joe Thornton will not be available for Friday’s game against Edmonton. “Not a day-to-day thing at this point”, still need to run further tests to determine the severity of his injury.
— Danielle Emanuele (@dee_emanuele) January 21, 2021

With the loss of Robertson and Thornton, the Leafs are now sitting at 10 healthy forwards, and 7 defensemen in their lineup, with only $560k of cap space to make a recall. Basically the Leafs can’t recall anyone unless they also demote Mikko Lehtonen to the taxi squad, and up their flexibility to $1.485M, which would allow them to recall two of Adam Brooks, Joey Anderson, and Travis Boyd.
The other option for the Leafs is to put Thornton and Robertson on their injured reserve, and bring up in Barabanov while keeping Lehtonen on their roster. This decision would …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

All five Leafs players clear waivers

To the surprise of no one, all five Leafs players placed on waivers yesterday cleared. IN fact, all but four players around the league were not claimed by any team.

Carolina claims Anton Forsberg from Edmonton;San Jose claims Rudolfs Balcers from Ottawa;NJ claims Eric Comrie from Winnipeg;Nashville claims Luca Sbisa from Winnipeg
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) January 12, 2021

Notice how two of the players that were claimed are goalies. If you may recall, Aaron Dell was one of the guys the Leafs decided to keep on their main roster instead of attempting to sneak him through waivers. With goalie depth being such an important asset to have for the coming season, it was wise that Toronto decided to keep him on the roster rather than risk losing him for nothing to make Michael Hutchinson the third goalie on the depth chart.
You can tell Kyle Dubas learned his lesson from three years ago when he lost both Curtis McElhinney and Calvin Pickard both got claimed on waivers prior to the start of the 2018-19 campaign.

With two goaltenders claimed off waivers — Anton Forsberg to CAR, Eric Comrie to NJ — the #leafs strategy of keeping No. 3 Aaron Dell pays off. …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

Maple Leafs Training Camp Update: Day 5

Maple Leafs Training Camp Update: Day 5

After five days of Maple Leafs training camp, we’ve learned a lot about what the team could possibly look like on opening night. Auston Matthews will be getting more minutes due to his new role on the Leafs and the power play units have been changed, too.
There’s also an update on Alexander Kerfoot’s leg injury and if he’ll be available for Wednesday nights season opener. And finally, we have a Maple Leafs scrimmage! It will be on Sportsnet and TSN tomorrow night with tons of familiar faces — some who I wish would be on the broadcast regularly.
Here’s all the news, plus my new series that will be coming to TLN after every Maple Leafs game:

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Everything you need to know from the start of Leafs training camp

After a long five months, it’s nice to finally say that the Toronto Maple Leafs are finally back.
Kyle Dubas, Sheldon Keefe and the Leafs’ leadership group spoke to the media today about how they feel going into this season and what they’re most excited about.
Keefe got a little bit too excited and gave us all the lines he’s going to try out in training camp before the season starts. There’s plenty of things to see, so I compiled all the most important quotes (in my opinion) into a video. Plus, I speak a little bit about the surprises on the Maple Leafs’ training camp roster.
I hope you enjoy!

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

The Rays are looking for catchers and the Blue Jays have a lot of them

On Friday, the Blue Jays added five players to the 40-man roster ahead of the Rule 5 draft, two of which were catchers, Gabe Moreno and Riley Adams.

With Danny Jansen, Reese McGuire, and Alejandro Kirk already there, that gives the team five catchers on the 40-man roster, which is more than you’d generally like to have.
Elsewhere, according to Jim Bowden, the Tampa Bay Rays have apparently told other teams that their off-season priority is to add “catching, catching, and catching.”
The Rays, as we know, are loaded with all kinds of quality pitchers. The Blue Jays, as we know, need to add some pitchers this off-season.

I’m not really a math person, but this all adds up! It could make all kinds of sense for the Blue Jays to send a catcher over to Tampa Bay in exchange for a pitcher, solving the problem of the massive catching logjam on the 40-man while simultaneously filling another area of need.
Of course, if the Rays want to make a big upgrade behind the plate, they could go ahead and sign J.T. Realmuto, arguably the top free agent on the open market. But, thankfully, the Rays are cheap …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation