Leafs place Aaron Dell and Jason Spezza on waivers

It raised eyebrows around the league when the Leafs decided to keep Aaron Dell on their opening night roster as their third goaltender, mostly because the Leafs were only able to carry one extra player on their active roster due to salary cap limitations. Keeping a third goaltender left the Leafs with next to no roster flexibility, as Alexander Barabanov (aside from Ilya Mikheyev) was the only player that could be sent to the taxi squad without having to clear waivers.
The Leafs made that move prior to their game against Ottawa on Saturday night, recalling rookie forward Nick Robertson for his NHL regular season debut. Unfortunately for Robertson and the Leafs, he suffered a knee injury in the first period and is expected to miss some time pending the results of an MRI scheduled for Sunday.
In order to receive an emergency recall exemption for a player with a cap hit of $1 million or less, the Leafs would have first had to play a game with just 17 skaters. As a result, the Leafs were forced to create the flexibility to recall reinforcements from the taxi squad by placing Aaron Dell and Jason Spezza on Sunday’s waiver wire.

Aaron …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

Who is going to give the Leafs the toughest time this season?

The short answer is probably the Leafs. No one undoes the expectations of the Leafs quite like the Leafs, but we’ll try and answer this question a bit more seriously. After the first three games of the season it’s clear that there’s no such thing as a cake walk for Toronto, and if since they insist on doing things the hard way, it’s worth looking at who will be the toughest opponent for Toronto. Here’s what the TLN crew had to say about who will be the toughest of the Scotia North Division opponents.
Michael Mazzei
While this may be an overreaction to the first game, the Montreal Canadiens proved they will be a very tough opponent for the Leafs all season long. Never mind the fact that these two teams will face off nine more times, the Habs are a well built team that gave Toronto fits all game long. There’s no doubt the other teams will each present their own challenges, beating Montreal will be an accomplishment because they are not going to be an easy outing. Turns out the preseason hype surrounding that team was right all along.
Mark Norman
I …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

3 Maple Leafs score their first goal of the season – Rate that Leafs game

So, the Toronto Maple Leafs close out a two-game series with the Ottawa Senators going 1-1. This game was a lot better for a team who came into the nation’s capital last night and played horrible.
Tonight, players were flying and it was a much better performance. The only bad news is that Nick Robertson will likely miss “some time” due to a knee injury, which Sheldon Keefe said after the game.
Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and Joe Thornton all scored their first goals of the season. Jack Campbell had an incredible performance and even thought he could do better, like he usually says. Overall though, this looked like a complete game with the Maple Leafs not allowing the Senators back into it late.
I’ll say that it was a little rough around the edges, but overall, a much better game than the first one against Ottawa.

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Jumbo Joe gets his first as a Leaf in 3-2 win

After a disappointing first game in Ottawa, the Leafs looked to bounce back and get a win on the first Hockey Night in Canada of the season. Jack Campbell and Nick Robertson replaced Frederik Andersen and Alexander Barabonov, so maybe a bit of deck chair shuffling will change the momentum.
The Leafs came out in the first period with a very similar performance to last night’s first, as they did a good job maintaining possession and creating scoring chances. Unfortunately, hockey is a cruel mistress sometimes, as midway through the first period, a Nikita Zaitsev shot went straight at teammate Nick Paul, who then gets the loose puck past Jack Campbell to give the Sens a one goal lead.

Paul opens the scoring off the rebound pic.twitter.com/cUzlibyyZ6
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 17, 2021

It seemed like we were in for another rough night against the Sens, but thankfully a one goal lead is very easy to give up. Four minutes later, Mitch Marner makes a great play to corral a TJ Brodie stretch pass, skates the puck into the offensive zone and drops it for Joe Thornton, who walks in and fires it past Matt Murray to tie the …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Alright, let’s try this Battle of Ontario thing again

The Leafs look to rebound from a disappointing loss to the Ottawa Senators last night, with a win from this home-and-home series. Ottawa surprised Toronto and took control of the game from the Leafs in the second period, and got themselves a win out of it. Tonight, the Leafs will want to prove why a majority of people have them winning the North division this year, especially against a Sens team that many had finishing last.
It was a tale of two teams last night, as the Leafs were playing like an elite team playing a lottery team for the first half of the game, as they had 71.58% of the expected goals in the first, and at one point had 85% in the second. However, in the second half, they just gave up, as they finished the second with 46.98% of the expected goals, and had only 8.4% of them in the third. That’s right, 8.4%, a grand total of 0.08 expect goals. They played really bad.
They also didn’t get much help from Frederik Andersen in net. He let in a couple of stinkers again, and looked like he was swimming in his crease for quite a bit of the game. He …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

A game the Maple Leafs should look back on – Rate that Leafs game

Alright, the Toronto Maple Leafs had a bad game, but it has to get better from here, right?
Giving up four goals in two-straight games is no excuse and it’s also one you don’t blame on solely a single player. There was a lot of people who went for Frederik Andersen’s head, but that’s not fair.
The Maple Leafs are an entire team — you win as a team, lose as a team. It might sound cliché, but it’s true. The defence in front of Andersen has to be better and until it is, he’s not going to be able to give the Leafs a chance to win. Sure, I get it — he has to make saves, but it’s the players’ jobs to help him make those saves instead of leaving him out to dry.
In this video, I talk about what they can do now because that’s the most important thing at this moment. They have a chance to show how good they are tonight and I believe they’ll do just that.

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

The Battle of Ontario resumes tonight as the Maple Leafs take on the Senators

The Toronto Maple Leafs are back in action tonight as they take on the Ottawa Senators in their home opener of the 2021 season. Last game, the Maple Leafs defeated the Montreal Canadiens 5-4 in Overtime thanks to Morgan Rielly’s OT winner.
Youth Movement
Tonight is the highly anticipated NHL debut for 2020 second overall pick Tim Stutzle. Along with Stutzle, the Senators will also have Josh Norris and Drake Batherson in the lineup tonight, two players who lit the AHL on fire with Belleville last season. Brady Tkachuk and Thomas Chabot are also a year older, giving Ottawa a nice core of young players (unfortunately).
A year removed from finishing second last in the NHL, this season looks like a transition year for the Sens, as they try to build a contending team. The Sens added vets such as Derek Stepan, Evgenii Dadonov, Erik Gudbranson and Matt Murray to help ease the burden on the youngsters on the team.
The Senators are still a work in progress, but I wouldn’t be proclaiming a season sweep by the Leafs this season. I would expect the Leafs to have to really earn every two points against the Sens this season. DJ …

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Author: Brendan Mori / The Leafs Nation

Revisiting my projections for the Leafs Opening Night Lineup

The Leafs are finally back and they kicked off the new season with a big win over their longtime rivals. There are few things in hockey sweeter than beginning the campaign with a victory over the Canadiens, especially in overtime.
All throughout the game, I was reflecting on the lineup projections I made for this very game way back in October shortly after Joe Thornton signed with the Leafs. I wanted to know if my guesses were right on the money or hilariously wrong. I was aware of when I wrote the piece:
Until that date comes, all we can do is speculate our best guesses for what the Leafs might do with their lineups for the coming season and who might fit best in other spots. We are quite removed from when the campaign could potentially start so it’s entirely possible that my projections could be well off the mark. Add to the fact that there remain questions of whether the AHL season can be played and if there will be expanded rosters, you have a perfect storm of an article that may one day end up being mocked for being completely wrong.
But we’re going to …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

William Nylander shines in Maple Leafs season opener – Rate that Leafs game

After an eventful season opener for the Maple Leafs, I can thankfully say that they won game one. After coming back from three deficits, Toronto forces overtime where they would seal the deal.
William Nylander had a great game, scoring two goals and adding an assist. Even Frederik Andersen got on the board with an assist early in the game.
But overtime is always scary — even before it, where Auston Matthews was cross-checked twice and looked hurt — I was stressed. He played a few shifts in that final period and Sheldon Keefe said he’d be okay. Phew.
It was a crazy — good and bad game by the Maple Leafs. So, let’s talk about it:

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Simmonds sparks comeback, Leafs defeat Habs 5-4 in Overtime

Game Recap

Oh boy did I ever miss hockey.
The Leafs kicked off this unique 2021 NHL season in classic Leafs fashion, coming from behind to win 5-4 in Overtime.
Nick Suzuki scored the first goal of the game on the powerplay, after Zach Bogosian went to the box for Tripping. William Nylander responded with a goal right at the end of the powerplay to make it 1-1. Josh Anderson would score with 23 seconds remaining in the first period to make it 2-1 for the Habs.
In the second period, Tomas Tatar added to their lead courtesy of another powerplay goal.  Wayne Simmonds decided the team needed a spark, and fought Ben Chiarot in-front of the net. The Leafs took notice, with Nylander (second of the game) and John Tavares scoring on an elongated powerplay.
Josh Anderson would score early on in the third period to regain the lead for the Habs, but Jimmy Vesey scored his first goal as a Maple Leaf, tying the game at four apiece.
In overtime, both teams had ample opportunity to score, but Morgan Rielly would cap off the comeback on a two-on-one with Tavares, giving the Leafs their first win of the season.
Most …

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Author: Brendan Mori / The Leafs Nation