George Springer will apparently play centre field and bat fifth tonight against the Marlins

Though the team hasn’t made an announcement yet, it appears as though George Springer will be activated from the 10-day Injured List today.

According to Hazel Mae, he’ll play centre field and bat fifth in the lineup…

#BlueJays George Springer will bat 5th in tonight’s lineup vs #Marlins and play centerfield in his return from the IL (quad).
— Hazel Mae (@thehazelmae) June 22, 2021

Springer, as we know, suffered a quad injury during spring training and didn’t make his Blue Jays debut until late in April. He then played in a few games and re-aggravated the injury and has been on the IL since.
The difference this time around is that Springer took part in a rehab assignment with the Triple-A Thunder-Bisons. He played five games in Triple-A, spending a good chunk of his time in centre field, and went 3-for-17 at the plate.

George Springer said via Zoom he’s “extremely excited” to produce on the field for #BlueJays. Said it was “brutal” to be sidelined for six weeks but he’s feeling far better physically now. When he first returned, he felt good. “This time I feel great.”
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) June 22, 2021

In all four of the …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Playoff Preview: After a season of turmoil, it’s Jack’s net

Goaltending heading into the playoffs hasn’t been much of a cause for conversation in Toronto over the last few seasons. For the entirety of the Matthews Era, the Toronto Maple Leafs have had their game one starter etched in stone since day one of training camp, with Frederik Andersen having been pegged as The Guy essentially from the moment then general manager Lou Lamoriello traded a first and second round pick to Anaheim for the Danish net-minder. And despite a shaky October in his first season with the Leafs (a trend that would plague Andersen for the entirety of his tenure in Toronto,) Andersen settled in and became a stabilizing force for a young Leafs team who were still finding their legs defensively. For as much star power as the Leafs had acquired over the previous few years, it’s hard to argue that they would not have reached the heights that they did as quickly as they did were it not for the stellar play of Frederik Andersen.
But things can change in quickly in the NHL, and over the last couple of seasons, while Toronto’s defense has been bolstered and rounded into for as one fitting …

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Author: Brian Reid / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Raptors: Top 5 Centers in franchise history

Toronto Raptors: Top 5 Centers in franchise history

The center position hasn’t been very kind to the Toronto Raptors over the years, as countless promising big men at that position have fizzled out. They’ve tallied just one meek little all-star appearance in 2001. The rest of the Toronto All-Stars have played positions 1-4, making the all-star player appearances a 23-1 ratio for Raptors […]
Toronto Raptors: Top 5 Centers in franchise history – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Avishai Sol / Raptors HQ

Leafs look to build on Thursday’s win tonight vs. Jets

To say this series hasn’t made Leafs Nation collectively age several decades this week would be an understatement. After falling short on Tuesday, it looked like the Winnipeg Hellebuyck’s… er, I mean Jets, had the Leafs on the ropes again until goals from William Nylander and Ilya Mikheyev got the Leafs ahead before the Jets tied it late, and Auston Matthews got the Leafs the win in overtime.
Despite the fact that the Jets have three of a possible four points in this series, the Leafs have been the better team in this series by far. Through the first two games, they’ve had 60.95% of the shot attempts, and 62.4% of the expected goals at even strength, clearly dictating the play. They just struggled to beat Connor Hellebuyck until that final 15 minutes of the third and overtime.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that the Leafs are doing this good in these games. Not only have the Leafs cemented themselves as the best team in this division, the Jets are also one of the worst despite their record. They have the second worst 5v5 CF% in the division (only 0.2% better than the Canucks), and they have the worst xGF% …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Are we finally changing the way we feel about the Leafs defense?

For as long as I can remember there hasn’t been a time Leafs fans have felt comfortable with their defense. Well that’s not true, I do have a hazy recollection of the early 2000s and feeling somewhat confident in the performances of Dmitri Yushkevich, and Danil Markov. Or maybe I just miss defensemen who hit everything. Either way, it’s safe to say there was over a decade worth of Leafs hockey were the blueline made us feel bad. Even the first few games of this season had left us with some question marks, but here we after two decisive wins against the Canucks, and maybe minds have been changed and we like what we see. It’s in this spirit that I’ve asked the TLN writers for their takes on the Leafs blueline, the hotter their takes the better.
Michael Mazzei:
Get used to Zach Bogosian because there’s a good chance he’ll be sticking around past the 2021 season. Why I say that is because while his offensive upside is limited, his value in the defensive end and physical play style is a much needed addition to the blueline. Sure he had a rough going …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Rob Manfred is already crying poor on behalf of the owners

Major League Baseball’s piece of metal hasn’t even been awarded yet and Rob Manfred is already talking about next year.

In an interview with Barry M. Bloom for Sportico, MLB’s commissioner stated that the teams have amassed a collective $8.3 billion in debt by playing the 2020 season without fans. This claim comes just a few days after hundreds of employees, both on the business and the baseball side of operations, have been laid off.
Of course, Major League Baseball’s books are closed so we’ll never actually be able to verify just how much money teams lost this year. I mean, obviously, teams took a significant not having fans in the stands buying tickets, merchandise, and concessions, but player salaries, which make up far and away MLB’s largest expenditure, were prorated to the 60-game season.
Manfred coming out and saying that MLB lost all of this cash is simply just a way to A) navigate the ugly PR situation of so many employees being laid off during a global pandemic and B) get ahead of the game for the inevitable labour negotiations with the Players’ Association that will happen before the 2021 season.
You’ll surely remember …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

What to expect from Timothy Liljegren this summer

Timothy Liljegren hasn’t risen up the organizational ranks at quite the same pace as other highly touted Leafs prospects like Rasmus Sandin or Nick Robertson, but his game took a big step forward in his third professional season. After earning praise for improving his defensive game in year 2, his offense blossomed this season and helped earn him a nod for the AHL All-Star Classic.
With the Leafs forced to look to their depth all too often in 2019-2020, Liljegren earned his first cup of coffee in the NHL and suited up for 11 games. Still just 21 years old, the former first round pick is working to establish himself as a core member of the Leafs blue line going forward.
By The Numbers
Liljegren doubled his AHL point total from the previous season in 3 fewer games, racking up 5 goals and 25 assists over 40 contests. He was a consistent power play contributor and registered career highs with 3 goals and 10 assists with the man advantage.

It’s a very small sample size but the numbers don’t paint a flattering picture of how Liljegren handled his first NHL stint. He ranked well below replacement level in just about every advanced metric, …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

Bruce Cassidy on Toronto as a hub city: “We’ve played well in that rink in the playoffs”

Though there hasn’t yet been an announcement, it appears as though Toronto is going to be named as one of the NHL’s hub cities for the 2020 playoffs.

Arthur Staple, a reporter covering the New York Islanders, said on Monday that he’s heard that Vegas and Toronto will be used as hubs. Ultimately, given all of the amenities and the fact that it’s close to home for both the league and the media, it makes a lot of sense for Toronto to host the playoffs.
Also giving his blessing for using Toronto as a host is Boston Bruins’ head coach, Bruce Cassidy…

Bruce Cassidy on the possibility of playing in Toronto for a hub city: “We’ve played well in that rink in the playoffs for the most part.”
— Scott McLaughlin (@smclaughlin9) June 29, 2020

Obviously, the outcome of both first-round series between the Leafs and Bruins the past couple of years has tilted in Boston’s favour, but, to be fair, the teams have actually split the games in Toronto 3-3.

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Author: Cam Lewis / The Leafs Nation

Kyle Clifford is a bit of a unicorn

There hasn’t really been a shortage of interesting takes on the Jack Campbell and Kyle Clifford acquisitions and besides the hilarity of those saying that Clifford for Moore is essentially a wash, the next most interesting (but less wrong) take came from Kyle Dubas…
“He’ll make a big impact here right away, knowing his personality,” Dubas said Thursday. “If you have those elements to your game that you’re physical and competitive and you have a presence to you, you have to be able to play.
“He can play — and those guys aren’t in abundance anymore. I think that’s why when they’re available, the cost is pretty high.”
-via Sportsnet
I was curious to see just how rare guys like Clifford are and put out a couple of parameters. Players with positive expected goals differential, players with positive corsi differential, players with over 20 games played this season, and players with over 70 hits. Then since really we’re only looking at forwards in this scenario, I cut out the defensemen. The result is a list of 35 players in the league.
Rather than …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Breaking down the Trevor Moore Blockbuster

Today we say goodbye to a Leafs legend. A guy that hasn’t scored a goal since game six of the season. A guy who hasn’t picked up a point since game eight. A guy who is recovering from an injury, and has numbers befitting a bubble fourth line/13F player. This is really all we should have to say about Trevor Moore, who was well liked because of a comical comment about his ass, but really was a throw-in so the Leafs could remain under 50 contracts and the Kings can trot out a California boy for a few games this year.
On to the what the Leafs addressed in this deal.
Need for a backup goaltender that you aren’t terrified by
Team toughness in the form of someone who can play hockey
Jack Campbell
After Elliotte Friedman connected the dots between the Leafs and Campbell earlier today, I put together some thoughts on Campbell that still hold pretty true now…
There are obvious benefits from bringing in a goaltender that your coach is familiar with, and the GM knows what to expect from them. There’s the fact that Campbell’s …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation