Leafs play their first fake hockey game of the year tonight

It’s preseason hockey, baby! WOOOOOOOOOOO!!! On one hand it’s damned exciting to be able to watch some form of the sport we love, featuring some players we like, the return of John Tavares to the ice, and we get our first look at players like Ho-Sang, Bunting, and *checks notes* Michael Amadio, but it is also that wonderful time when we start reading way too much into everything. This isn’t some kind of glorious rematch against the Montreal Canadiens, where scores will be settled. It’s a preseason game where both teams are desperately trying to avoid roster players getting injured while we hoot and holler as Kurtis Gabriel and Rich Clune make sure that no Habs player steps within six feet of John Tavares. There will probably be a fight or two.
In addition to fighting spectacle, there are a few other things that will interesting to soak in courtesy of tonight’s line combinations.

My best guess at the Leafs’ lines for tonight:
Bunting – Tavares – Ho-SangMikheyev – Kerfoot – NylanderRobertson – Amadio – SpezzaSeney – Der-Arguchintsev – GabrielClune
Muzzin – LiljegrenSandin – BrodieKrál – BiegaHellickson – Hollowell
HutchinsonScott
— Nick Richard (@_NickRichard) September 25, 2021

While not exactly the official lines, Nick’s best guess represents what we’ …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The Blue Jays have acquired pitcher Brad Hand from the Nationals in exchange for Riley Adams

The Blue Jays’ bullpen certainly needed a Hand. HEYYYYOOOOO!

According to Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post, the Blue Jays have acquired left-handed reliever Brad Hand from the Washington Nationals. Apparently, it’ll be catcher Riley Adams going back to Washington in exchange…

Source: The Nationals have traction on a deal that will send Brad Hand to the Blue Jays.
— Jesse Dougherty (@dougherty_jesse) July 29, 2021

The Blue Jays are acquiring LHP Brad Hand from the Nationals for Triple-A C Riley Adams, per source. @dougherty_jesse was first with the news.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) July 29, 2021

Hand originally came up with the Florida/Miami Marlins as a starting pitcher but converted into a bullpen role after being selected by the San Diego Padres off of waivers.
In 2016, Hand broke out as a very effective bullpen arm, leading baseball in appearances and posting a 2.92 ERA. He then made back-to-back All-Star appearances in 2017 and 2018 and was traded to Cleveland along with Adam Cimber in exchange for Francisco Mejia.
In 2020, Hand had an excellent season with Cleveland, posting a 2.05 ERA over 23 appearances and led baseball with 16 saves. He struck out 11.9 batters per nine and walked just 1.6 per nine. Despite that, Cleveland didn’t pick up …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

The Cubs are apparently interested in Ken Giles

With some designated trade chips in hand, it appears that we might be seeing the first one sold by the Blue Jays this season and it might be Ken Giles to the Chicago Cubs.

On Inside the Clubhouse @670TheScore Jays broadcaster Buck Maritinez confirmed the Cubs have asked about the availability of closer Ken Giles
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) May 18, 2019

Per Chicago baseball analyst Bruce Levine and Buck Martinez, the Cubs have reportedly asked about Giles as a potential trade.
As of Monday, the Cubs bullpen has been not very good, so this trade makes sense for Chicago. Their closer Steve Cishek has an ERA of 2.45 in 22 innings, while making four saves but one blown save as well. It’s not terrible, but for a team that wants to contend like the Cubs, they want to upgrade on that and Giles can be exactly that.
Acquired in the Roberto Osuna trade from Houston, Giles has been exactly as advertised this season. In 19.2 innings this season, Giles has completed 10 saves with an ERA of 1.37 and a 1.017 WHIP.
One part of his game that has been incredible this season is his strikeout rate. Punching out 14.9 per nine innings is a career-high for Giles …

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Author: Thomas Williams / Blue Jays Nation

Raptors aim to finish off the Magic in Game 5: Preview, start time, and more

With a commanding series lead in hand, the Raptors will look to maintain momentum and finish off a reeling Orlando squad in tonight’s Game 5 in Toronto. New experiences! New feelings! New emotions! The Toronto Raptors had never led 3 to 1 in a playoff series before this one! I’ve never felt this way before, what do I do with my hands!?
Yes, the Toronto Raptors are in a position of relative security when it comes to their playoff advancement, and the playoff series isn’t even over yet. And, as well all know, no team has ever blown a 3 to 1 playoff lead, making the “relative” qualifier a mere formality here. The Raptors have already won the basketball series.
(Editor’s Note: Jacob does not go on to indicate that he is being sarcastic in the following paragraph of his introduction, so it falls on me to inform you that he is, in fact, a liar.)
Paradoxically, despite the Raptors’ already guaranteed victory they will still have to win one more game in order to advance to the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals where they will play the Philadelphia 76ers, who have also already won their first-round series. It shall no doubt be …

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Author: Jacob M. Mack / Raptors HQ