Colin Blackwell’s got that dog in him

Between the regular season and the first round of the playoffs, we got a 26 game look at Colin Blackwell. He didn’t show up a whole bunch on the score sheet but endeared himself to many in other ways by being a feisty addition to the bottom part of the Leafs lineup. Considering that the Leafs are short on feisty players, is it possible that Blackwell finds his way back to the Leafs next year?

It’s become obvious a lot of us were not only insufferable but also wrong in the mid-late aughts and this is the only correct way to watch and analyze any sport pic.twitter.com/utW34nyD8p
— AF (@ArkansasFred) April 26, 2022

While I feel like most of us at The Leafs Nation often choose the bleak stare against the rock wall approach, there is undoubtedly a time and place for integrating players who drive the opposition nuts as well, and Blackwell appears to be one of those guys. He had 34 hits in 19 regular season games, 12 hits in 7 playoff games, while playing limited fourth line minutes, and in his entire time in Toronto he drew 7 penalties while taking none (save for a misconduct that didn’t leave the Leafs shorthanded.) The fact that Blackwell can line up at center also provides some important depth at that critical position, as does the fact he’s good with moving up and down the bottom nine depending on where he’s needed. If the Leafs decide to move on from Alex Kerfoot, Blackwell could be an affordable, light option.
Of course, Blackwell is also going to draw some Bunting comparisons for his agitating play, t …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Auston Matthews is officially the Rocket Richard winner

We patiently waited until the last regular season game ended to post this in the most accurate fashion, but Auston Matthews is now officially the 2021-22 Rocket Richard winner with his 60 goals.
The feat is even more impressive considering the nine missed games, and leads us to wonder what could have been and what’s coming next year.
The impressive total is a new single season record for the Leafs and it’s only the third time in the 2000s that a player has hit that mark. Matthews hitting the 100 point mark, and being the first Leaf since Doug Gilmour to do that only adds to the impressiveness of the feat, and puts an exclamation mark on a very special season.
To celebrate, here are all 60 of Matthews goals this year.

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The Leafs 3 stars of the week: Auston Matthews hits 60-goal mark, Erik Kallgren earns two solid wins

The final week of the 2021-22 NHL regular season has finally come and it has finally come to an end with three final games on the Toronto Maple Leafs’ schedule as they prepare to enter their sixth consecutive postseason, hoping for a different outcome this time around after repeating history for five years in a row now. After what felt like a super long season, we finally had three games left to play before we can start the playoffs. Games between the Washington Capitals, Detroit Red Wings, and Boston Bruins were on the calendar for the Maple Leafs, and it included some potential playoff implications too.
The Maple Leafs opened their week last Sunday in Washington on the second half of a back-to-back after coming off yet another overtime loss to the Florida Panthers after blowing another multi-lead to them. This time, Toronto was on the receiving end of being down by multiple goals, but they rallied back throughout the second half of the game and ultimately tied it late in the third perio …

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Author: Joseph Zita / The Leafs Nation

Bluelines: The final regular season road game

We’re in the home stretch and soon the regular season will be in the rearview mirror. That feels more bittersweet now that it would be nice to give Michael Bunting some recovery time before the playoffs start, but nevertheless, we’ll soon be stepping away from lame-duck hockey and into the most meaningful games of the year. That’s exciting.
Leafs at +105
It stands to reason the Leafs are the underdogs heading into the game tonight. They played last night, they lost Bunting in the process, and they are likely heading back to Erik Kallgren in the net. It’s also up for debate that someone like Matthews should even be playing tonight given that he’s probably not at 100%. It’s a tough one to see the Leafs winning tonight, and maybe the Capitals with a +205 spread is the best option.
Panthers at -125 to win over the Lightning
Since the Panthers beating the Lightning is an important one to watch in order for the Leafs to clinch 2nd in the Atlantic, I’m including the odds there too. Any kind of win helps, but a win in regulation means the Leafs just need to push the Caps to overtime in their game.
Matthews hitting 60 at +400
It’s not a certainty that Matthews will even be in tonight, but if he is and he score …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Report from the Rock: End of the regular season, now the fun begins

The regular season came to an end for the Newfoundland Growlers on April 17 in a 5-0 victory over the Adirondack Thunder. The Maple Leafs’ ECHL affiliate team ends of the 2021-22 regular season with a 42-20-5 record, good for 89 points on the league standings and securing the team 2nd place in the North Division.
All eyes now turn to the beginning of the playoffs on Friday night, where the Growlers’ first round opponent will be the only other Canadian team in the ECHL, and the affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens, the Trois-Rivieres Lions.

DIVISION SEMI-FINALS
Growlers vs @Lions3r
-> https://t.co/9akvp20BlN#STANDPROUD pic.twitter.com/oZV3AYOVyX
— Newfoundland Growlers (@NLGrowlers) April 16, 2022

The Growlers and the Lions played 14 times in the regular season and Newfoundland holds the overwhelming edge with a 10-3-1 record. Keith Petruzzelli, who will likely be the starter in goal for the series, played 9 of the 14 games against the Lions in-season and emerged with a 7-2 record. Petruzzelli, it should be noted, was also named to the ECHL All-Rookie Team.
To shine a spotlight on some skaters, forward Zach O’Brien ended the regular season with 78 points, a franchise record, beating his own previous record by 10 points in the same number of games played (53). O’Brien was 2nd overall in league scoring behind the Fort Wayne Komets’ Will Graber, who had 83 points in 59 GP. O’Brien’s 28 goals was tied with rookie Orrin Centazzo for the team lead.
“It’s a healthy battle, but I don’t look at it as though it’s a competition between them” said head coach Eric Wellwood, noting that the two star forwards play on a line together most of the time and “still pass to each other.”
O’Brien was also awarded the ECHL Sportsmanship Award. Per a league press release: “The award is presented annually to the player who is judged to have exhibited the best sportsmanship combined with a high standard of playing ability.” O’Brien is just the third player in ECHL history to win this award a second time, as he was also awarded it in the Growlers’ first season in the league in 2018-19. O’Brien has a total of 18 penalty minutes in the regular season in 147 games with the Growlers.
On defence, Ben Finkelstein put up an astonishing 62 points in only 36 games played. He led the league in scoring by a defender, while playing in the fewest games of any member of the top 10 and posting the highest plus-minus stat. Noel Hoefenmayer, 11th in league scoring by a defenceman, led the Growler’s blueline in goals with 13 in 46 games.
Rounding out the list of standout players, the aforementioned Centazzo put up an impressive 51 points in his first s …

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Author: Dylan Murphy / The Leafs Nation

Free agent departures: Zach Hyman sets career-high, Zach Bogosian returns from injury

The NHL regular season is almost coming to an end as the month of March just finished last night and we hockey fans get set to look forward to the month of April as some teams get set to play some important games down the stretch for their playoff positions, and even playoff hopes. With that said, it’s been another month on the schedule for some former Maple Leafs to play with their new teams, so let’s take a look at how they did.

1. Zach Hyman – EDM – 29 years old – LW/RW
March 2022 stats: 15 GP – 3 G – 7 A – 10 PTS – 20:11 TOI
2021-22 stats: 62 GP – 22 G – 23 A – 45 PTS – 19:33 TOI
Contract: 7 years x $5.5M 
When Zach Hyman left the Toronto Maple Leafs in the off-season, Leaf fans were sad, it’s no secret. However, the addition of Michael Bunting and the type of season he is currently having for Toronto, it’s something to cherish as fans, but let’s not take away the accomplishment from Hyman this season as he set a new career-high in both goals (22) and points (45) while being just two assists shy from tying his career-high in that department with 25.
It’s been an incredible y …

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Author: Joseph Zita / The Leafs Nation

3 Toronto Raptors who have earned spots on 2022-23 squad

3 Toronto Raptors who have earned spots on 2022-23 squad

No matter what happens in the remainder of the regular season, the Toronto Raptors have already exceeded some of the wildest expectations that a largely pessimistic media gave them before the 2021-22 season. Last year’s stint in Tampa appears to be more of an exception than a norm. Despite leaning on young players at the […]
3 Toronto Raptors who have earned spots on 2022-23 squad – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

The value of Jason Spezza, Wayne Simmonds; and how the Leafs should use ‘load management’

We are in the dullest stretch of the regular season. It’s okay to admit that. The NHL season is long and it feels especially long this year because it’s the first 82 game season we’ve had in a while. That’s hard on viewers, but it’s also hard on players. The bumps and bruises are stacking up as the teams head into the last stretch before the playoff adrenaline makes you forget about pain or fatigue.
As I’m getting into my thirties, it’s becoming more apparent the toll that just regular life takes on the human body. The impact of contact sports beyond thirty has to be much worse. That’s why it is so rare to see an NHL player being competitive past 30, excepting for true stars like Jason Spezza and Wayne Simmonds.
Of course, they aren’t playing like top-line stars any more, but it seems like they are still competitive members of the team. I wanted to test that out to make sure.
Also, with Spezza coming back into the lineup tomorrow after a bit of a rest break, I wanted to look at the possibility of load management throughout the team as they h …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

Music Mondays: Toronto Maple Leafs preseason hype

Music Mondays: Toronto Maple Leafs preseason hype

T MINUS TWO DAYS UNTIL LEAFS REGULAR SEASON HOCKEY!
If you didn’t let out the obligatory scream that I thought you would, please do so now. I’ll give you a couple seconds.
Okay! With that out of the way we are going to get into the good stuff.
Introducing Music Mondays here at TLN, where every Monday we’ll be dropping a playlist that is completely based upon the Toronto Maple Leafs’ performance the week prior. The playlist is called Not Enough Blue! It will usually consist of 5-7 songs of varying genres. Hopefully this could also be an opportunity for some Leafs fans to find a new favourite artist. Playlists will be available both on Spotify and Apple Music. (I have both and I want to make sure everyone can enjoy this music however they choose.) PLEASE NOTE: The Spotify version will be completely clean, the Apple Music version may have explicit versions of songs. When listed in the article if a song DOES NOT have a clean version or a radio edit available on Apple Music I will put an asterisk (*) around the song title. Just in case you’re listening with family or young ones. …

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Author: Marsha Joseph / The Leafs Nation

Burning Questions: If the Leafs play a more physical game, will they go further come playoff time?

Burning Questions: If the Leafs play a more physical game, will they go further come playoff time?

Heading into the regular season we are regularly going to be running some of the burning questions asked by our TLN contributors. The biggest burning question of course is whether or not this is the year the Leafs finally play a game in the second round of the playoffs. We’ll tackle our takes on that a little later. So far we’ve had Ryan Hobart exploring whether Jack Campbell is for real in net. Today is our second kick at this series with my burning question, if the Leafs play more physically, will they have better playoff results?
I feel like the physicality question is a divisive one in Leafs land and it absolutely doesn’t have to be. There is certainly a corner of Leafs internet that wants physicality above all else, and anecdotally the success the Leafs had with a Wendel Clark and Doug Gilmour led team, than the success the Leafs had with a Gary Roberts and Darcy Tucker led team would certainly support the notion that physical players have help provide the Leafs with their best playoff runs in the past 50 years. The problem with that argument has always been that all the players I …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation