Game #6 Recap: Leafs face elimination in seven once again

It was never going to be this easy. It was always going seven.
And it was always going to be heartbreaking as the Tampa Bay Lightning found a way (though legitimately or not- don’t worry, we’ll get to that,) to stave off elimination and force yet another Game 7 for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Much like Game 5, the game truly began with the Lightning getting the game to 2-0, the Leafs erasing the defecit, pulling ahead, then the Lightning tying the game. Unlike Game 5, there was no moment of heroic triumph that saw the Leafs move forward into the 2nd round for the first time since 2004.
And let’s be perfectly frank and honest here, the Leafs were robbed of the victory by the officials.
Yes, it’s a cliche of the stereotypical ‘salty fan’ to blame the referees, but objectively, all emotion detached, raw facts only: the Leafs were robbed. Lets’s look at it in more detail.
The Gifs:

Not going to change anything now, but sure looks like an errant call on David Kampf high-stick.
Replay seems to indicate Kampf got Foote in the jersey/shoulder pad, but it was sold well.
(h/t @JoshRimerPR) pic.twitter.com/h7Q4EZB37L
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) May 13, 2022

There you have it, plain as day, Foote sold a phantom high stick and the official bit on it like a fish on a baited hook. The level of complete incompetence from the officials in this league is disgusting to say the absolute least …

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Author: Dylan Murphy / The Leafs Nation

Maple Leafs fall on penalties as the real Lightning step up to even the series

It was never going to be like Game 1 the whole way through, nut for 19 minutes and 57 seconds of Game 2, it looked as though the Toronto Maple Leafs had picked up where they left off.
That was until Tampa Bay Lightning defenceman Victor Hedman picked up a loose puck after a failed clearing attempt and beat Jack Campbell for a deflating end to the opening 20 minutes.
That was the first of four points Hedman recorded as the Lightning defeated the Maple Leafs 5-3 to even up their first-round series at a game apiece.
A simple power-play goal against shouldn’t have let the air out of the Leafs as badly as it did, but it was the beginning of a sequence of plays where Toronto ended up on the wrong side of things.
Andrei Vasilevskiy returned to his dominant form. The Tampa goaltender made 13 of his 31 saves in the opening period, stifling the Leafs on their two power-play chances in the frame.
Over a minute into the second period, the Maple Leafs had some sustained pressure at Tampa’s net, capped by a chance in the slot for Timothy Liljegren, but Vasilevskiy flashed the leather with a highlight-reel save to limit the damage.
Less than a minute later, Hedman recorded his second po …

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Author: David Alter / The Leafs Nation

Auston Matthews scores 60th goal as Maple Leafs teammates make the case for him to win MVP

Sheldon Keefe was never concerned about Auston Matthews reaching the 60-goal mark.
The Toronto Maple Leafs coach joked that he’s a “round-up kind of guy” and was never going to call him a 58-goal scorer had his star not potted two more goals this season.
But Matthews’ got the job done anyway. He became the first Toronto Maple Leafs player to hit 60 goals in a season with a two-goal performance in a 3-0 victory against the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday.
”It was pretty special honestly,” Matthews said after the game. “Just the reception from my teammates, the crowd, I mean, everything. It just kind of sends chills down your bones.”
Heading into the contest, Matthews had been on a season-high five-game goalless drought. In the middle of that span, the forward missed three games with an undisclosed injury. Yet he still became the first player the first American-born player to reach the 60-goal mark and the first player since Steven Stamkos did it with the Tampa Bay Lightning during the 2011-12 season.
And he did it in just 73 games.
“Just really happy for him,” Keefe said of Matthews. “ To see him at the top of his game and reach these milestones. It’s outstanding. I’m really happy for him, you can tell he was re …

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Author: David Alter / The Leafs Nation

Jack Campbell’s improved play is a necessity not a luxury for the Leafs come playoff time

Goaltending in the playoffs is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.
When the Maple Leafs began their season, the plan was to have two healthy goalies in Jack Campbell and Petr Mrazek for the playoffs. But, that unfortunately hasn’t been the case this year.
Each goaltender has battled significant injuries this season. Mrazek has endured multiple groin injuries and is sidelined for the foreseeable future while Campbell has his fair share of bumps and bruises too.
So, Toronto is entering the playoffs, likely against the Tampa Bay Lightning with Jack Campbell and Erik Kallgren as their two netminders.
You can look at that from a ton of different sides, really.
The first side is, well, if Campbell gets hurt, then Kallgren has to come into replace him. Looking at Kallgren’s numbers since joining the Maple Leafs back in March, he’s got an .886 save percentage over the span of 13 games. Realistically, you’d hope he’s not needed to come in for any games, especially after giving up eight goals to the team they’re likely going to face in the first round just the other night.
But like I said at the beginning of the article, you never know what you’re going to get. Goaltending is voodoo and any …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

The Blue Jays win their series at Fenway Park thanks to an ace-like start from Kevin Gausman

Never in doubt.

Well, that wasn’t really the case in the ninth inning, but that’s certainly how it felt as Kevin Gausman cruised through the Boston Red Sox order.
With Teoscar Hernandez and Danny Jansen on the self, George Springer banged up, and Alejandro Kirk in need of a day off, the Blue Jays had a very thin lineup and badly needed a big pitching performance, and that’s exactly what Gausman gave the team as he put up an ace-like start, one of the best we’ve seen be a Blue Jay in years.
The score was 3-2 for the Blue Jays as they take the rubber match and their first series of the season with the Red Sox.
Things worth mentioning… 
Gausman has been getting better each start. In his first outing against Texas, he allowed quite a bit of contact, ultimately going five innings and scattering three earned runs on eight hits. Against the Yankees in his second outings, Gausman was sharper, as he went five-and-two-thirds, allowing two earned runs on six hits while striking out nine. This start, which was Gausman’s third as a Blue Jay, was simply dominant. Though Gausman did scatter seven hits over his eight-plus innings of work, none of the contact was very hard and it never felt like he was really ever in any trouble. Gausman also struck out eight batters, co …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

I grew up hating baseball. These Toronto Blue Jays changed that.

Growing up in Alberta, I was never really exposed to baseball as a kid.

In fact, I wasn’t even exposed to it at all. I feel like baseball is one of those sports that’s inherited in some way. Your grandfather maybe would sit by the radio tracking the game with a stats sheet, or maybe your father did too.
For me it was all about hockey and football. I grew up Edmonton Oilers hockey, and I grew up a Chicago Bears fan and am still a diehard to this day.
I found myself engrained with thoughts that baseball was, well… a “dumb sport.” I bought into tropes like “the games are too long,” or “there’s not enough action,” or “the players aren’t real athletes,” et cetera, et cetera.
As I grow older, I’ve found these tropes to be the farthest thing from the truth. You see, two years ago I started working at the Nation Network full-time. I got to work closely with guys like Cam Lewis, and Tyler Yaremchuk, both massive Jays fans, and through osmosis I started becoming a Jays fan too.
You see, there are few things I love more than good stories. I went to school to be a Journalist and worked full-time in the n …

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Author: Zach Laing / Blue Jays Nation

Gary Bettman weighs in on Canadian COVID restrictions

Let’s say that Bettman’s words are never meant for fans of the sport. Bettman’s words are calculated public reassurances to the NHL Board of Governors that he has their backs, and he will protect their investments ahead of his reputation. That’s why, no matter how much none of us want it, Gary Bettman will be the NHL Commissioner for as long as NHL ownership can get away with it. Eventually, Gary will fall on his sword for them, and Bill Daly will continue to maintain their status quo after that. The system works, if you are a billionaire.
It’s largely because of that system that we were given nothing but quick dismissals of the Rocky Wirtz situation and half-truths regarding the Coyotes situation. Instead, time was spent on how the Canadian COVID restrictions are impacting the bottom line.

One thing abundantly clear from Bettman press conference: #NHL (and its clubs) are beyond frustrated with Covid-related restrictions in Canada.
There was a not-saying, just-saying moment about teams potentially moving games to U.S. as well as shifting #NHLDraft from Montreal.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) February 4, 2022

Gary Bettman says #NHL is still projecting revenue “in the $5 billion range” for this season, down from $5.2b projection in December before omicron.
“But I will say it has been devastating for clubs in Canada.”
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) February 4, 2022

If your attitude towards this is “who cares?” I don’t blame you. Bell and Rogers not making as much of the Leafs as they could have won’t keep me up at night. I don’t think Canucks, Oilers, or Senators fans are overly fond of their owners either, and the Canadiens print money at the same rate as the Leafs. They’re doing just fine. Jets fans still shout “True North” for their owners, so maybe they’ll start a gofundme to make up the difference for the games they couldn’t attend, but really, complying with public health guidelines in a pandemic is a strange figh …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

News from the Rink: Auston Matthews held out of practice and the Maple Leafs running with Campbell in net

Never a dull moment lately. Just as the Leafs neared having a full roster to work with with, the biggest hit imaginable strikes, and Auston Matthews will be out, likely for the next five days…

Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews and assistant coach Dean Chynoweth will not participate in today’s practice for precautionary reasons.
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) January 3, 2022

Sheldon Keefe said Auston Matthews and Dean Chynoweth both tested positive on their rapid antigen tests but they are awaiting results of their PCR tests.
— Joshua Kloke (@joshuakloke) January 3, 2022

There’s a very strong chance that the PCR tests will validate when the rapid tests showed, and we’ll be looking at Matthews out until January 8th. If he’s symptom free and the PCR test results arrive soon enough, that could put him in the game against the Avs on Saturday night. If not, his return will be Tuesday against Vegas. Hoping this stays on the precautionary or asymptomatic side of things for both Chynoweth and Matthews.
With Matthews out, the Leafs ran some new lines at practice…

#Leafs forward lines at practice Jan. 3/22
Bunting-Tavares-MarnerMikheyev-Kerfoot-NylanderEngvall-Kampf-KaseRitchie-Spezza-Simmonds
— David Alter (@dalter) January 3, 2022

Pretty much what you’d expect to see here, as Tavares …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

2022 NBA Mock Draft 2.0: Who will the Toronto Raptors take?

2022 NBA Mock Draft 2.0: Who will the Toronto Raptors take?

It’s never too early to start looking ahead to the 2022 NBA Draft, as teams will always be trying to add that next franchise-changer. Rebuilding teams like the Detroit Pistons and play-in contenders like the Toronto Raptors will both look to add players that can reinvent the organization. This draft is widely starting to be […]
2022 NBA Mock Draft 2.0: Who will the Toronto Raptors take? – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

The Leafs November reign raised expectations and hopes

The Leafs were never as bad as their October. A team with Auston Matthews, John Tavares, William Nylander, and Mitch Marner, not to mention a strong supporting cast of TJ Brodie, Jack Campbell, Morgan Rielly, and others was not going to be 2-4-1 bad. In fact even the October 2-4-1 start was a bit exaggerated, as by the end of the month they had rebounded to 4-4-1, which while still underwhelming spoke to the fact that the Leafs have a finite amount of time they can be bad for, they just have the unfortunate habit of picking the playoffs for that time.
Now a 12-2-0 November, and a 14-2-0 stretch if you blissfully include those last couple of games in October is a bit of an inflated sense of how good the Leafs can be as well, albeit a far more enjoyable stretch of hockey to partake in. It by no means warrants responses like this:

The Toronto Maple Leafs playing their best hockey of the season in November is peak Leafs.
— Sid Seixeiro (@Sid_Seixeiro) November 29, 2021

Now, you can make a strong case for the fact that this will be some of the best …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation