21 Takes on the first quarter of the Leafs season

It’s the quarter mark of the season. Or technically half a game past the quarter mark. Sometime between Tavares’ 9th goal of the season and Auston Matthews’ 8th of the year, we hit the quarter mark, and after a sluggish start to the year, the Leafs have easily been one of the hottest teams in the league. And before getting into the takes for real, I’ll drop one for you here. The Leafs were never as bad as their start, but we shouldn’t be buying into them as the 12-2 darlings they’ve been since either. Sorry if that take is too hot. Here’s a healthy mix of hot and cold takes on the start of the year for the Leafs.
In hindsight, signing Campbell in the offseason could have saved the Leafs a ton of money and given them the option to maintain a very deep crease. Assuming Toronto could have locked Campbell in at the rate they gave Petr Mrazek, Toronto would have dodged the bullet that now seems to have the Leafs paying at an absolute minimum, $5M/yr going forward.If they can get that rate still, I think you take it …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Weighing rolling four lines vs. three lines plus specialists for the Leafs

We’ve just passed the quarter of the season mark, there is a lot of hockey left, why are you making a case for a shorter bench?
One of the better parts of the season has been what Spezza and Simmonds have done on the fourth line, why would you take that away?
These are my primary arguments for no matter what seems like the better approach in the long run, in the short term the idea of sticking with rolling four lines at 5v5 makes a lot of sense. That being said, the season is long, and eventually playoff races will heat up, and there will come a time when the Leafs need to be a bit more focused about how they deploy their players, and under Sheldon Keefe, the fourth line does still find around 10 minutes of icetime a night at 5v5.
When it comes to 5v5, the Leafs peak usage is with Auston Matthews playing 16:37 a night since the beginning of last season. Marner is the only other player averaging over 15 minutes, and regular fourth liners like Simmonds and Spezza are at the other end of the scale still playing around 9 minutes a night of 5v5. The …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

What does the future hold for young Leafs? Will Tavares head to China? Is it time for the Leafs to get a dog?

Here we are just past the quarter mark of the season for the Leafs. It was a rough start, but they’ve truly followed it up with something wonderful, and now that we’re in a good place where the Leafs and playing well and we’re not yet to the point where we think about how that will look in the playoffs, we thought we’d take advantage of a happier Leafs audience and answer some questions…

Is it fair to assume that Josh Ho-Sang will be an NHL regular for the Leafs next season?
— Daniel Tiller (@DanielJTiller) November 22, 2021

Nick DeSouza: It might be a bit early to pencil Ho-Sang into next season’s lineup. Of course, lots can change by then but the forward roster should look pretty similar next year. Toronto currently has nine NHL forwards signed for next season; Matthews, Marner, Tavares, Nylander, Kerfoot, Ritchie, Kampf, Bunting, and Simmonds. To add to this, both Pierre Engvall and Ondrej Kase are RFA’s this offseason and are having pretty good starts to the season so far. Finally, a healthy Nick Robertson, Joey Anderson should also compete for a spot. Ho-Sang has been really good with the Marlies …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Takeaways from the Toronto Raptors blowing out the New York Knicks

After a slow first quarter, the Toronto Raptors ignited and squashed the New York Knicks, 126-98. The game was settled by the end of the third quarter, which left us questioning: What did we learn from this game? With rookie of the year candidate, RJ Barrett, making his first homecoming to his native Canada to […]
Takeaways from the Toronto Raptors blowing out the New York Knicks – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Andrew Hughes / Raptors HQ

Prospects make us feel good, right? Let’s see how they are doing…

So the first quarter of the season definitely could have gone a lot better. I don’t feel I’m too bold by saying that. And you know, the fact that the Leafs likely won’t even have a first round draft pick to show for this season if they don’t make the playoffs, well, that’s not lost on me either (of course the pick they sent to Carolina is top 10 protected, so if they do really bad they’ll have something.)
Yeah, that will be two years without a first round pick, and that isn’t ideal, but what we can enjoy is a quick trip around the world to check in on the prospects the Leafs do have that aren’t currently playing on the Marlies or Growlers…
Europe
Mikko Kokkonen-D
I’m starting with Mikko because I really like him. A lot of the things that went right with drafting Rasmus Sandin I feel could go right with Kokkonen, although maybe not on as skilled a scale. Kokkonen isn’t either a offensive dynamo or a shutdown guy. He’s the guy you happily trot out in a Carl Gunnarsson fashion and enjoy a stable …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Raptors get blown out by Bucks in Game 2, 125-103

Toronto’s fate was decided early in the first quarter, as the Raptors were decimated by an energetic Bucks squad in Game 2. After a disheartening loss in Game 1 where both teams seemed evenly matched, the Raptors were totally outclassed tonight. The Bucks out-hustled, out-shot, out-rebounded, out-assisted and generally outdid the Raptors entirely, providing me with a pointless writing exercise about a 125-103 blowout loss. But please, join me and let’s bask in sadness together!
To start things off, the Raptors made careless error after careless error. In the first six minutes of the game, the Bucks went on a 9-0 run, including two Giannis Antetokounmpo jams, multiple Toronto throwaway turnovers and a Nikola Mirotic three-pointer. It might’ve suggested that Nick Nurse call a timeout at some point before that Mirotic three, but hey, I’m not a professional basketball coach so he must be right. But seriously, the Milwaukee crowd was getting fired up and the Raptors looked flustered; a timeout to settle the troops was much needed.
Marc Gasol was incredibly shaky to start the game, missing his first four shots, fumbling a Kawhi Leonard interior pass and whipping a pass of his own off the rim …

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Author: Dylan Litman / Raptors HQ