What’s changed in the year since Babcock’s been fired?

It’s the first year anniversary of the Mike Babcock firing. It’s a special day, and we owe much thanks to Marc-Andre Fleury for it, but also Mike Babcock for being such an uncompromising prick that he refused to change even when all signs pointed to him failing in his role.
Not coincidentally this also marks the one year anniversary since Sheldon Keefe took over the Leafs, and I decided to have the TLN writers weigh in on what has changed the most in the past twelve months for the Leafs.
Mark Norman
The Leafs played 47 games under Keefe this season. Comparing Keefe’s first 47 games to Babcock’s last 47 games shows us that Keefe’s teams slightly outshot (+0.7 SF%) and out-attempted (+0.9 FF%) Babcock’s teams, while Keefe received better 5v5 shooting (8.9% to Babcock’s 8.0%) and basically the same 5v5 goaltending (0.913 vs Babcock’s 0.914). Where things greatly diverged is in expected goals (a shot quality metric): the Keefe-coached Leafs had 53.6% of the expected share of goals while Babcock’s Leafs had 49.8% of that share. The eye test bears this out: under Keefe the Leafs were encouraged to be creative with the puck (within reason) rather than playing scared of …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The Leafs winning pace, playoff chances, and why winning out West would be wonderful

Earlier this year Mike Babcock took heat for saying the Leafs should pick up six points in every five games, and that was his measure for success. He took a lot of heat for it, especially considering at the time, the Leafs were in consideration for possibly winning the division, Presidents trophy, and I’m sure if I put in a few minutes of research, I could find a few hockey men who had predicted the Leafs to win the cup. The six points in five games would put the Leafs on pace for a 98 point season, but just how are they doing in comparison to that target now?

Well, we can see where Mike Babcock didn’t do so hot, and bottoming out at zero points in five games really shows that by his own metric, he had to go. As for Keefe, well, his late November through early January heater is what has given him a significantly higher number, but since January 12 he hasn’t had a whole lot of success of staying above the six point benchmark either. Starting goaltender injuries, as well as injuries to three defensemen will do that to you, not …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Can the Toronto Raptors survive their injury crisis?

In this week’s episode, Hunter is joined by Mike Bossetti to discuss the impact of the Toronto Raptors’ most recent injury news. It seems like we’ve mentioned it 100 times already this season. But, here we are again…the Toronto Raptors are going to be missing some key pieces in their rotation for a period of […]
Can the Toronto Raptors survive their injury crisis? – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Hunter Surphlis / Raptors HQ

Toronto Raptors Podcast: Recent offensive struggles continue

In this week’s episode, Hunter is joined by Mike Bossetti to talk Kawhi Leonard’s return, the Toronto Raptors offensive struggles and where the team sits at the top of the league. The most anticipated Toronto Raptors game of the year has come and gone. Kawhi Leonard returned to the city he won a championship for […]
Toronto Raptors Podcast: Recent offensive struggles continue – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Hunter Surphlis / Raptors HQ

Are the Toronto Raptors coming back down to earth?

On this week’s episode, Hunter is joined by Mike Bossetti to talk about a possible Tristan Thompson trade, whether or not the Toronto Raptors should give Fred VanVleet the bag, and if the Raptors coming back down to Earth. The Toronto Raptors had their worst week of the season thus far going 1-2 with a […]
Are the Toronto Raptors coming back down to earth? – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Hunter Surphlis / Raptors HQ

Toronto Raptors Podcast: How real are the Toronto Raptors?

In this week’s episode, Hunter Surphlis and Mike Bossetti talk about the most recent news and numbers from the Toronto Raptors. Should they trade for DeMar DeRozan? Is Pascal a real MVP candidate? And more. The Toronto Raptors are shaping out to be one of the best teams in the NBA. They’re top five in […]
Toronto Raptors Podcast: How real are the Toronto Raptors? – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Hunter Surphlis / Raptors HQ

Maple Leafs Post-Game #25: 5 Takeaways from Something Special

Say what you will about Mike Babcock the person — and a lot of people have done exactly that following his dismissal on Wednesday — but the past two games have revealed in unflinching detail just how much the ex-coach was holding this Maple Leafs team back.
My goodness, folks. How did we let this go on for so long?
The schedule is now into late-November, and the Leafs currently sit outside of a playoff spot, coming fresh off a coaching change over 20 games into their season. Typically, that’s when the practice fights begin to go down — a necessity if this team is actually prepared to follow the 2018-19 Blues blueprint (Bluesprint? I dunno, something to think about) most expect them to.
And yet, this team looks positively giddy.
Jason Spezza straight-up broke out into uproarious laughter on the bench during Thursday night’s slump-busting victory. Auston Matthews got as hyped for Tyson Barrie’s first goal of the season as Bill Murray did for Michael Jordan’s dunk that saved the entire earth in Space Jam. John Tavares declared a midseason road win in freakin’ Arizona as the start of “something special” before dropping F-bombs like a guy who just …

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Author: Mike Stephens / The Leafs Nation

The Babcock situation must have been a lot worse than we thought

“Source: ~90% of the Leafs were relieved to see Mike Babcock go” is what James Mirtle of The Athletic tweeted out on Thursday morning before the Leafs got ready for their first game under new coach Sheldon Keefe. If that doesn’t tell you that things were much worse under the hood of this team than was let on, I don’t know what does.
The thing is, I’m at least a little surprised. Not so much that players were getting frustrated by Babcock – because I did think it was clear they were quitting on him – but that so many of them seem outwardly glad to see him go now that the team has moved on. We knew Dubas wanted to fire Babcock in the spring and that things weren’t lining up between the two, but even that seemed like it was maybe patch-uppable. Not even close.

Source: ~90% of the Leafs were relieved to see Mike Babcock go.
The GM obviously was ready for it, too. Now the heat is on them with their season on the line.
On the end, why it happened and what comes next @TheAthleticTO https://t.co/mcWBmPwFyG
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) November 21, 2019

In the …

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Author: Ryan Fancey / The Leafs Nation

What Sheldon Keefe Can Bring as Maple Leafs Head Coach

Mike Babcock is out. Sheldon Keefe is in. Things move fast in this wacky world we call hockey. Try to keep up.

The Keefes Nation aha
— The Leafs Nation (@TLNdc) November 21, 2019

The aftermath of Babcock’s dismissal will be filled mostly with eulogies, the majority of which seek to tie a neat little bow around his tenure in Toronto. And that’s entirely warranted. Babcock led the Leafs out of what was perhaps the most cavernous hole in franchise history upon taking over in 2015 and turned them into a perennial 100-point outfit. That can never be taken away from him.
But times change. And when Babcock didn’t, the other shoe was bound to drop.
Sheldon Keefe is the man of the hour now. And after biding his time in the Leafs organization for nearly the past half-decade, the former Marlies bench boss holds the opportunity to put his definitive stamp on an NHL roster.
Which begs the question: What does that look like?
In covering the Marlies for the past three years, I’ve been able to observe a number of Keefe’s coaching habits applied within a system largely reflective of the level above. Here are a few …

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Author: Mike Stephens / The Leafs Nation

The coaching change can’t be the only thing on Dubas’ to do list

The Leafs took a big step by letting go of Mike Babcock on Wednesday. As far as moves that could be made that would have the greatest impact on the Leafs players and this season that was it, and frankly it’s foolish to think otherwise.
The coach controls the locker room, the strategy, the systems, and the lineup card, and a case can be made for each of those things being broken with the Leafs.
It is not a 100% guarantee that Sheldon Keefe can fix everything, in fact, it’s probably a guarantee that somethings he’ll do will leave us wanting as well, but there is some hope that the Leafs will get back on track, and at least make a show of competing for a playoff spot.
The Leafs need to get 64.4% of the available points in the remaining 59 games to finish with 98 points, what would have been good enough for the last Eastern Conference Wildcard spot last season, that’s a pace ahead of their best Original Six league results. Of course that’s more manageable when you figure one hot streak and sustained 60% results is a doable, as is the very real possibility of the …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation