The Blue Jays yet again come up short against one of the American League’s best

The Blue Jays have had the most difficult schedule in baseball so far.

They own a 31-29 record through 60 games, which is slightly worse than their 32-28 record was at the end of the COVID-shortened season last year. Given the fact they haven’t seen the league’s worst yet, like Baltimore and Detroit, that’s fairly encouraging.
But, still, at some point, if you want to be one of the best teams in the league, you have to beat the best teams in the league. You can’t just rely on kicking the shit out of the Orioles to compensate for not being able to beat the White Sox, Astros, and Rays.
After dropping two of three to the Astros, the Blue Jays went into Chicago and again lost two of three from the White Sox. It’s been a disappointing stretch against some of the American League’s best after a nice run against the Yankees and Cleveland last week.
Things worth mentioning…

A noticeable theme in the Chicago series was Toronto’s bullpen being ineffective. In the game on Tuesday, Robbie Ray put together an excellent start, allowing just one earned run over six-and-one-third innings while striking …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Toronto Marlies report cards: Defence

It’s time to grade the defencemen.
One of the most exciting parts of this past season was the Marlies’ defence core. There were so many players coming in and out of the lineup with a lot having some real potential.
Similar to the forwards, there were a lot of rookie defencemen in this group — seven of the Marlies’ 15 defencemen were playing in their first year of professional hockey. Some provided a glimmer of hope to this back-end which did see a few injuries and some call-ups this season.
Like I said in the forwards article, these players will be graded mainly on NHL readiness. The closer they are to the A-grade, the more likely I think they are to play in the NHL next season.
Just to name some honourable mentions before I get started; Brennan Kapcheck, Riley McCourt, Sergei Sapego and William Villeneuve each got into a few games this season but still are a year or so away from being solidified AHL players. But for Kapcheck, he’s signed for two years with the Marlies so he’ll likely get some playing time next season.
The grades
Timothy Liljegren – 2G, 9A, 11P – A+
The 22-year-old has been …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

IT’S LADY BYNG FINALIST SZN AND AUSTON MATTHEWS MADE THE CUT!!!

In what was undoubtedly the most physical, rough and tumble year of Auston Matthews career, it appears Matthews is still viewed as quite the gentleman.

Sportsmanship combined with a high standard of play.
Which finalist will be taking home the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy? #NHLAwards @NHLdotcom has more https://t.co/Henp0vGuBW pic.twitter.com/N678HxOx0S
— NHL (@NHL) June 5, 2021

Yep. He’s our gentleman despite seeing his penalty minutes increase from 8 in 2019-20 to 10 this season, and his hit total jump from 40 to 57 this year despite playing in 18 fewer games. Yes, Auston remains a Lady Byng finalist for the second straight year, and after finishing second in voting last season, it’s very possible that he’s the front runner this season because Brian Campbell is the only defenseman who won the award in the past 65 years. Facing Spurgeon and Slavin would probably make Matthews the favourite, and I wonder if voters will treat the Byng as Matthews consolation prize for having an incredible season, but not being able to leap past Connor McDavid for the Hart.
Auston has already addressed that individual accolades don’t quite cut it for him when he was announced as a …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Should the Toronto Raptors pursue John Wall if he gets bought out?

Should the Toronto Raptors pursue John Wall if he gets bought out?

The Toronto Raptors will be gearing up for their most pivotal offseason in years, as the potential loss of Kyle Lowry is looming over this franchise. They could choose to sign a cheaper veteran option if he leaves or simply move Fred VanVleet over and play for the best, but trying to reel ion a […]
Should the Toronto Raptors pursue John Wall if he gets bought out? – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

TLN Three Stars: Game lost, Captain lost, and optimism lost

TLN Three Stars: Game lost, Captain lost, and optimism lost

Let’s start with the most important thing on our minds following that loss to the Canadiens, that is the injury to John Tavares. You can find a summary of the incident here, and aside from Chris Johnston’s update that Tavares was taken to the hospital, we are still left wondering how he’s doing.
Now as for the game itself, the Leafs were victim to Carey Price playing like the Carey Price that used to be talked about as one of the greatest goaltenders in the world. His robbing of Marner on his one-timer attempt during a 2 on 1 with Nylander was the additional bad omen the Leafs didn’t need tonight. The Habs scored shortly after the Tavares injury, and the Leafs were able to hold on for the rest of the period, and actually rally as best they could in the second with a goal from Nylander, but Price was vintage Price, and that’s all they got before the predestined short handed goal by Paul Byron in the third that put emphasis on how toxic the Leafs powerplay has been this year. Arguably Jack Campbell should want that one back, but he’s probably the third …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

George Springer homers twice, Blue Jays pull off comeback, but Alejandro Kirk and Tommy Milone wind up on the Injured List

That was definitely the most exciting game of the Blue Jays’ season this far. It looks like this team is finally rolling.

The Braves went up 4-0 early on the power of a grand slam off of Tommy Milone but the Blue Jays kept battling back. George Springer homered twice, the team put together a sixth-inning rally, and then Randel Grichuk hit a walk-off single in the 10th inning to complete the comeback. What a blast that was to watch.
Things worth mentioning…

Saturday night felt like the true arrival of George Springer. He had a goose egg in his first game, got on base a few times in his second, but exploded in his third. Springer grounded out in the first inning and appeared to re-aggravate his injury as he hobbled to first base. Despite that, Springer stayed in the game and was key to the comeback effort. He hit a two-run dinger to cut Atlanta’s early lead to 4-2 and then hit the game-tying homer in the seventh inning. Springer is now 3-for-12 with a couple of dingers and three walks as a Blue Jay. Let’s just hope he can stay on the field.

George Springer …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

The Leafs Are Embracing Their New Reputation

In one of the most head-scratching days on Twitter, a new narrative was formed on Friday when tweets from Winnipeg beat reporter Murat Ates suggested that the Toronto Maple Leafs were a dirty team.

Between this hit on Perreault, Zach Hyman’s high-stick on Neal Pionk, and Alex Galchenyuk’s hit on Adam Lowry, Toronto is certainly taking a physical toll on Winnipeg in advance of the playoffs — and it’s not exactly all clean.
— Murat Ates (@WPGMurat) April 23, 2021

While this narrative was picked up and explored by the Toronto media, it will no doubt be hilarious to most of the Leafs’ fanbase. A team with some absolute teddy bear personalities like Jack Campbell, Mitch Marner and Joe Thornton couldn’t possibly be a dirty team.
In fact, all we’ve heard for so many years, from the media and a certain section of the fanbase, is that the Leafs are a soft team, they don’t defend themselves, don’t drop the gloves or throw the body. Many have even suggested that “Kyle Dubas hates grit,” and to be fair, there have been times where their game has lacked that element, but to paraphrase a quote from Wayne Simmonds, they start defending …

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Author: Dylan Murphy / The Leafs Nation

3 reasons the Toronto Raptors are better than the Wizards

3 reasons the Toronto Raptors are better than the Wizards

The Toronto Raptors continue to be one of the most bipolar teams in the NBA, as a month of March in which they totaled one victory has been followed by a fantastic April that has them back in the playoff hunt. They are joined in this unique schizophrenic club by the Washington Wizards, who are […]
3 reasons the Toronto Raptors are better than the Wizards – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

TLN Three Stars: Leafs win in regulation with late goal, but it didn’t count, so Canucks win in OT

This had to be one of the most talked about games going into the game that had absolutely no playoff implications, as the Canucks were playing their first game in almost a month after dealing with one of the COVID variants that went through most of the team. It was going to be interesting to see how the Canucks would handle their first game back from a disease that would probably affect their stamina and endurance, and how the Leafs would respond to that.
Somehow that wasn’t the biggest story of the game, as the Leafs would finally end the power play slump after almost 9 minutes, and Zach Hyman would leave the game early after a knee on knee hit from Alex Edler.
Also Marner might have scored a goal late in regulation to win it, but it just wasn’t quite conclusive enough so it stayed tied, and went to overtime, where Bo Horvat scored his second of the game to win it for the Canucks.
Not David Ayres level embarrassing considering the Leafs were the better team, but it’s still not the best look for the Buds.
Three Stars
3rd Star: Nick Robertson
Robertson got his …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Leafs Prospect Roundup: Trade chips, Amirov’s arrival appears imminent, Miettinen off to NCAA Championship

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For most of the year, our interest in prospects typically revolves around their performance and progression but with a number of leagues winding down for the season and the NHL’s trade deadline approaching, the focus in Leafs Land has shifted to which prospects could be used to acquire help for the current roster.
Kyle Dubas has made it known that his Leafs are all-in on this season and, in turn, he is willing to offer up prospects and draft picks to fortify the Leafs’ lineup for a playoff run. Most of the talk has been centered around the top prospects in the system like Nick Robertson, Rasmus Sandin, and Rodion Amirov but the Leafs have a number of other prospects in their pipeline that could hold value ahead of Monday’s trade deadline.
To help get a better idea of exactly what kind of trade ammunition Kyle Dubas has at his disposal, Tony Ferrari and I put together a list of the Leafs’ best trade chips beyond the top prospects:
Maple Leafs’ trade chips beyond the top prospects

Enough trade talk for now, let’s get to some prospect updates.
Rodion Amirov – LW/RW – Tolpar …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation