News and Notes: Matthews returns, new lines, and a couple of injury updates

Following last night’s game which included the apparently unforgivable act of having a student athlete sit on the bench instead of an AHL goaltender, the Leafs have closed out the necessary steps in bringing in Michael Hutchinson as their emergency call up goaltender.
As expected, the Leafs bring up Michael Hutchinson

Whether your issues are that the Leafs shouldn’t have had to wait a game to do this, or if you are offended that the Leafs spend to the salary cap, you can take a deep breath and recognize that it didn’t really matter, and the worst that could have happened was Alex Bishop could have had the night of his life, and we would have been treated to a nice story at the cost of 1/82nd of the results of the regular season.
Mrazek will be out 14 days, which means six games. There are back to back games Friday and Saturday night this week, so it seems likely that Michael Hutchinson will get the start Saturday in Pittsburgh. If he sees anytime in net beyond that it will depend on the health and play of Jack Campbell.
Beyond Mrazek, there are a couple of other injury …

Read More

Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Burning Question: Can a Campbell-Mrazek tandem really work?

Think back to last season. The Leafs had a few problems to work through, just a few that come to mind were their penalty kill, being aggressive on the ice, winning a Game 7, and of course, goaltending. The question that often popped up when it came to their goalie situation was, will Frederik Andersen play his heart out and leave it all on the ice, or will he completely blow it up and not hold it down between the pipes. When it came to Jack Campbell, we wondered, was he ready, is he experienced enough? (Spoiler: He was!)
Now let’s look ahead to the upcoming season. Andersen has been traded to the Carolina Hurricanes, and the Leafs signed Petr Mrzaek to join Toronto’s new favourite, Jack Campbell. Mrazek spent most of the 2020-2021 season injured, but for the games he did play, he posted a 6-2-3 record including three shutouts. Based on those numbers, it seems hopeful, but can a Campbell-Mrazek goalie tandem really work?
It’s difficult to directly compare each goalie’s performance last season due to the shortened season, realignment of divisions, and a variety of injuries, but let’s look at some of …

Read More

Author: Roxanne Khasow / The Leafs Nation

The Marlies get their goalie as Hutchinson clears and the Leafs put four more players on waivers

What a difference a year makes. Last year little thought was given to putting Michael Hutchinson on waivers, and instead some of us were worried what might become of Aaron Dell. Now, knowing the importance of a third string goaltender a bit more, especially in the pandemic era, there was a bit of nervousness about whether or not Hutch would be claimed, and today we are thankful to say he was not.

Michael Hutchinson (TOR) clears waivers.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) October 6, 2021

The Leafs do not need to immediately assign him to the Marlies, so we’ll see if he hangs around the Leafs camp for a few more days, but ultimately he’ll be a Marlie and the Leafs emergency callup option.
Hutchinson was not the only bit of waivers news for the Leafs today as four more players were placed on waivers today…

Kole Lind (SEA), Max McCormick (SEA), Joey Anderson (TOR), Carl Dahlstrom (TOR), Brennan Menell (TOR), Brett Seney (TOR) and Jonah Gadjovich (VAN).
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) October 6, 2021

Brennan Menell, Brett Seney, Joey Anderson, and Carl Dahlstrom have all been sent down, and while all will likely clear there might possibly be some interest in Brennan Menell or …

Read More

Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Raptors: 3 Keys to OG Anunoby winning Most Improved Player

Toronto Raptors: 3 Keys to OG Anunoby winning Most Improved Player

After finishing with one of the worst records in the NBA last season, the Toronto Raptors are looking to climb back up the Eastern Conference standings in 2021-22. That will require a number of players to step forward and assuming a larger role as the post-Kyle Lowry era begins. At the top of that list […]
Toronto Raptors: 3 Keys to OG Anunoby winning Most Improved Player – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

Read More

Author: Brian Swane / Raptors HQ

TLN Top 20 Leafs: #4 John Tavares

To say last year didn’t end how John Tavares wanted it to is probably the biggest understatement I could make. After captaining the Leafs to a division title, there was a lot of hope heading into the post season, and while the Leafs didn’t make it out of the first round, a freak accident meant Tavares didn’t make it out of the first period of Game One, and while disappointing, the only thought that comes to mind about Tavares is that it could have been so much worse and the fact that he’s back at 100% to start the 2021-22 season is one of the reasons for hope this year.
Like the next three Leafs on our list, Tavares was exclusively ranked at the top of the Leafs list. Some three rankings, some four rankings, a couple of fives from our contributors that value defense and goaltender, but for me Tavares is the 2nd best Leaf (I’ll leave you to guess who’s #1.) My ranking, like I’d hope most of our contributors rankings was based in person preference, and for me I’ll take a center over a winger any day, and I think round …

Read More

Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Here we go again: Advanced Stats and Analytics Primer, Part 2

Last week, in Part 1 of this primer on advanced stats and analytics, we looked at some stats and resources that cover the foundation of what we can call “advanced stats” or “analytics” in hockey. To recap:
Corsi (CF%) measures how many shot attempts (shots, misses, blocked shots) there are while a player is on the ice
Production (points, goals, assists) can be measured in a number of different ways (primary points, 5v5 points, etc.)
Expected Goals (xGF%) is similar to Corsi, but it weighs the shot attempts based on how good they were, based on where the shot was taken
Shot attempt models like Corsi and Expected Goals have a reasonably good correlation with future wins, so that’s why they’re important
In this post, I’m going to branch out a little further from this foundation and talk about the loads of other stats that are available for the NHL. So, it’s important that you’re comfortable with everything in that summary before we take this next step.
The beauty of publicly available data is that it takes a ton of grass roots effort to make it happen. Please consider donating to the creators of these tools …

Read More

Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

Expect improved results from this year’s Leafs PK

A look at the standings table for last season shows the Maple Leafs tied for 23rd in penalty killing percentage (PK%), which would seem to indicate that Toronto was quite poor with a man in the box last season. But a quick peek under the hood shows a quite effective PK that was not as bad as it looks, and this offseason’s turnover may play a huge role in turning the team’s underlying success into actual results.
Last season
The Leafs’ penalty kill did an excellent job last season of suppressing shots (8th-best in Shots Against per 60), neutering shot attempts (3rd-best in Corsi Against per 60), and limiting scoring chances (9th-best Expected Goals Against per 60). So how does a team that finishes top-10 in all three of these categories finish bottom-10 in the NHL in PK%?
Goaltending. Specifically, Frederik Andersen’s shorthanded goaltending.
While it’s easy to point fingers at a guy who is no longer on the Leafs’ roster, there’s no denying that Andersen struggled on the penalty kill last season, torpedoing the efforts of the defending unit in front of him. Consider that Andersen played 48% of Toronto’s shorthanded minutes last season but allowed 62% of …

Read More

Author: Mark Norman / The Leafs Nation

News and notes from Leafs training camp

The Leafs are all back to camp today after last night’s preseason game in Montreal, and before tomorrow night’s game in Ottawa. After tomorrow night’s game there will be a bit of a gap in the preseason, and Toronto won’t be back in action until Monday, giving them an opportunity to establish who gets one last look Monday night before reducing the roster to those most likely be playing on opening night. It looks like the Leafs have a bit of a plan in place for the next few days.

Sheldon Keefe said #Leafs won’t be taking many NHLers to Ottawa for tomorrow’s game. Wants to give players looking to crack the roster more of an opportunity to showcase themselves.
— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) September 28, 2021

So tomorrow night is going to be the group battling to stay in camp, and likely the group battling for spots at the bottom of the lineup card. It doesn’t sound like the Leafs will be sending their A team, and as far as the eight veteran player requirement, it’s likely that Gusev will be one of them, and expect him to be in both of the …

Read More

Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Burning Question: Can Jack Campbell’s success continue?

Last year, Jack Campbell soared into the hearts of Leafs nation as he fairly won the starting goaltending position from Frederik Andersen. His rise to that role was entrhalling, and will certainly earn him the chance to keep that role, despite the Leafs bringing in an established goalie into the fold in Petr Mrazek.
However the workload is shared between Mrazek and Campbell, it’s obvious that everyone involved is hoping that Campbell can build on what he did last year and continue to have excellent results in the 2021-22 season.
Unfortunately, goaltending results can be quite volatile year-over-year. It has been shown in research by people smarter than I am that save percentage is mostly a team stat, and isn’t really representative of goalie quality.
Even when someone like DTMAboutHeart breaks it out into save percentages from different zones, or using those zones to make an “adjusted” save percentage, it’s really hard to repeat results year-over-year. This goes for good and bad results.
Essentially, the team’s system and quality of team defense, after being tested repeatedly over 82 games, can be repeated year-over-year. For goalies, this isn’t so much the case; it’s hard for a …

Read More

Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

Recapping TLN’s 2021 Leafs prospect rankings

Over the last few weeks, we here at The Leafs Nation have been counting down the top-20 prospects in the Leafs’ organization as voted on by our team of writers, as well as a couple of outside contributors familiar with Toronto’s system. Our countdown reached it’s conclusion on Friday with Rasmus Sandin taking over the #1 spot after Nicholas Robertson had held that honour a year ago.
A handful of players made their debuts in our prospect rankings this year, including 2021 second-round pick Matthew Knies coming in at #7 and undrafted free agent signing Pavel Gogolev landing the #15 spot. The Leafs’ didn’t graduate anyone from the 2020 list but last year’s #5 prospect Filip Hallander was dealt back to Pittsburgh earlier in the offseason, vacating a spot in the top-five.
Our biggest risers from a year ago include a pair of players who were honourable mentions for the 2020 list in St. Cloud State winger Veeti Miettinen and Sibir Novosibirsk forward Dmitri Ovchinnikov. Miettinen racked up plenty of accolades during a tremendous freshman season in the NCAA and Ovchinnikov torched Russia’s junior league, earning a look in the KHL as an 18-year-old. After impressive draft+1 seasons, Topi Niemelä and Roni …

Read More

Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation