Leafs look to add to division lead vs. Habs

Going into tonight’s game, the Toronto Maple Leafs have an eight point lead over the Montreal Canadiens for the division title, but the Habs have three games in hand. This game could be the difference between having a 0 point lead if the Habs win their games in hand or having a four point lead if they do, and any chance to help cement your chance as the division winner should hopefully be capitalized on.
The Leafs head into tonight’s game after a three game series against the Ottawa Senators, where they took five of a possible six points, and did it in the most frustrating way possible, blowing a 5-1 lead on Monday night, barely squeaking by on Wednesday night, only to finally blow them out on Thursday night. They’re currently on a two game win streak as a result, and have managed to only lose in regulation once in their last 13 games, going 10-1-2 in the process.
The Habs have had the week off after last Saturday’s game against the Leafs, which saw them get the tying and go ahead goals in the third period on route to a 2-1 win. That ended a …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Marlies get approval to play hockey in Ontario

We’re finally going to get some Toronto hockey that isn’t the Maple Leafs and Toronto Six:

NEW my statement on the return of the AHL in Ontario. ⁦@TorontoMarlies⁩ ⁦@BellevilleSens⁩ pic.twitter.com/9Sj6beqFbo
— Lisa MacLeod (@MacLeodLisa) February 12, 2021

Both the Marlies and Belleville Senators will now be able to play games in Ontario following this announcement. It’s not known yet when there will be scheduled games in the province, but the two teams will start the 2021 season outside of Ontario.
The Toronto Marlies start their season on February 15th when they face off against the Manitoba Moose at 7PM EST.
 

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Author: Nick Barden / 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

Leafs without Matthews tonight, and Thornton to miss a month

Yesterday it seemed like it was just going to be a maintenance day for Auston Matthews. He was a little sore when he took the ice for practice, left early, and rather than reshuffling the lines, Adam Brooks took his place between Jimmy Vesey and Mitch Marner. The fact that Marner hadn’t been shuffled onto either the Tavares or Kerfoot line kept me calm for the past twenty four hours. This morning it’s hitting a bit different…

Sheldon Keefe confirms Auston Matthews it OUT tonight for #Leafs vs. Oilers. Upper body soreness. Day-to-day.
Joe Thornton has a rib fracture, will miss at least a month.
— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) January 22, 2021

Now in a 56 game season there will be injuries, and rather than Matthews playing and aggravating what’s causing the soreness, taking a game or two to recover doesn’t seem like the end of the world. It would be nice to see an honest matchup between McDavid and Matthews after the boring outing on Wednesday night, but luckily we’ll get seven more opportunities this year.
It will be interesting to see what the Leafs new lines look like tonight, but my guess is we see Marner …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Daily Duce: A George Springer decision could be coming soon, Taijuan Walker talks about pitching for the Blue Jays, and more!

Daily?!?!

There’s quite a bit going on right now! Before getting into the things that might happen, let’s talk about the stuff that has happened…
On Monday night, the Blue Jays signed Tyler Chatwood to a one-year deal worth $3 million, pending a physical. It’s an interesting buy-low option given the team plans to use him out of the bullpen rather than as a depth starter.
And then, on Tuesday, it was reported that the Blue Jays and Kirby Yates were close to a deal and that the former Padres closer was visiting the team’s complex in Dunedin. Of course, nothing has been signed yet, but adding Chatwood and Yates to the bullpen in the span of a couple days would be a pretty significant swing for the Blue Jays.
Assuming the team operates with an eight-man ‘pen, it would look something like this…

Kirby Yates (R)
Rafael Dolis (R)
Jordan Romano (R)
Julian Merryweather (R)
Tyler Chatwood (R)
A.J. Cole (R)
Shun Yamaguchi (R)
Ryan Borucki (L)

It looks like Ross Stripling is penciled into the starting rotation, but that can obviously change. There are also a handful of names like Anthony Kay, Jacob Waguespack, …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Michael Hutchinson is the Leafs third string goaltender and that’s fine

Aaron Dell was going to be a very nice luxury in the right year to have goaltending depth. Combine the Leafs cap realities with the fact that New Jersey and Washington lost established goaltenders before the season even started, and it took all of a day into the season before the Oilers were without half of their tandem, in losing Mike Smith, it was clear that Aaron Dell was going to be short-lived as a Leaf, and the Plan B of Michael Hutchinson was going to be an unfortunate reality of the season.
Most of our memories of Michael Hutchinson come from last season, where he was not particularly good in his backup role to Freddie Andersen. The more the team needed to rely on him, the more he seemed to disappoint. That stems from the fact that Hutchinson isn’t quite an NHL goaltender, but he has been able to thrive in the third string role.
Throughout Hutchinson’s career he has bounced between the AHL and the NHL. It has been five seasons since Hutchinson spent the full year with a NHL team. Third string is his wheelhouse, and here he is. Would Dell have been better? Yes. …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Our first look at the 2021 Leafs points to Toronto being a fun team to watch

Going into the Leafs vs. Leafs preseason game to decide who Leafs the hardest, we already had a pretty good idea of what the Leafs were. We were expecting an offensively driven team that relies on skilled puck movement, and elite finishing ability to get the job done. In short we expected them to be fun, and a 7-3 win for White over Blue points to that. And there was no doubt that after a five month absence of seeing the Leafs on the ice, in something resembling a hockey game, we all wanted this.
Moving past the fun stuff, there were certainly somethings that we wanted to keep an eye out for, and some of the simple questions were answered.
First up, should be excited for Mikko Lehtonen in a Leafs uniform? Well, he answered that with a resounding yes.

Mikko Lehtonen with the shot, and William Nylander with the tip past Freddy and it’s 3-1 for Team White! pic.twitter.com/jp6duffGBj
— The Leafs Nation (@TLNdc) January 10, 2021

His shootout goal at the end of the first period was also encouraging, and while it’s too early to say “upgrade over Tyson Barrie,” I’m going to start …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Apparently the Blue Jays are one of the teams who has offered Ha-Seong Kim a multi-year contract

If we’re going to get a last-minute signing before 2020 comes to a close, it’s more than likely going to be Ha-Seong Kim.

Kim, a star from the Korean Baseball Organization, was officially posted by the Kiwoom Heroes back in early-December. Given the 30-day window for contract negotiations expires on Jan. 1, Kim will soon have to come to terms with a Major League club if he wants to make the trek overseas for the 2021 season.
According to Daniel Kim, ESPN’s KBO insider, there are multiple teams who have offered Kim a contract, and the Blue Jays are apparently one of them…

Sources – #BlueJays are one of the teams that offered multi-year contract to Ha-seong Kim. Said to be 5 years or more. Kim’s posting ends on Jan 1. #mlb #kbo pic.twitter.com/iVZDTB9BPk
— Daniel Kim 대니얼 김 (@DanielKimW) December 28, 2020

Along with the Blue Jays, we’ve heard that the Mets (of course), Rangers, Red Sox, Cardinals, and Padres are interested in signing Kim.
I wrote about Kim a few months ago when his name first surfaced on the international free-agent market as a possibility for the Blue Jays. I thought he made quite a bit of sense because …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Richard Urena is back on a minor-league deal

Just when you thought Transaction Friday was going to come and go without a transaction, the Blue Jays go ahead and make a move.

The team has reportedly inked Richard Urena to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training. They also announced that the minor-league deals to Forrest Wall and Tyler White (which were reported earlier in the week) had been made official.

#BlueJays announce they’ve signed infielder Richard Ureña to a minor-league deal with a spring training invite for 2021
Jays also announce minor-league deals for Forrest Wall and Tyler White
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) December 18, 2020

Urena is a name that we know well. He was with the Blue Jays’ organization from 2013 to 2019, earning 91 games at the big-league level between. In January of 2020, he was claimed off of waivers by the Baltimore Orioles, and went on to spend the season at the team’s Alternate Training Site, though he didn’t appear in any MLB games.
Through 263 plate appearances in the big leagues, Urena has slashed a .253/.300/.336 line. And, given the fact he never really hit well in the minors, we probably know what Urena is at this point, organizational depth with a good glove.
I would guess that …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Are the Toronto Raptors a realistic destination for a disgruntled James Harden?

Are the Toronto Raptors a realistic destination for a disgruntled James Harden?

With all the problems going on with James Harden in Houston, should the Toronto Raptors consider trading for him? A disgruntled star wanting out of their respective team. How many times have we heard this story before in the NBA? But let’s think of two disgruntled stars who have actually shaped the NBA’s last two […]
Are the Toronto Raptors a realistic destination for a disgruntled James Harden? – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Alexandro Fidanza / Raptors HQ