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 …

Read More

Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

How the Maple Leafs can move on from another first round exit

Well, they did it again. Another first round exit.
Often when the Maple Leafs get eliminated from the playoffs in the first round, there’s plenty of people who like to put on their General Manager hat. They’ll start by saying “Trade this player!” And usually end with “Someone needs to be fired for this mess!”
Every year. After every lost series.
Usually, I would accept this form of reaction. People are upset, and honestly, they have every right to be after yet another first round departure. But this time around for Toronto was different. Very different.
The Maple Leafs went toe-to-toe with the back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions. It went to a Game 7 and you could’ve argued that it should be tied after the third period. Fans from each team deserved another stressful overtime, like in Game 6.
As hard as Toronto fought for every inch of that ice, the Lightning fought just as hard, even after losing a key player like Brayden Point.
This isn’t a matter of sitting back and thinking about what’s wrong with this team — nothing is wrong — the Maple Leafs are an incredible team. If they ended up beating the Lightning, I wouldn’t be surp …

Read More

Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Bluelines: Why not us?

I wonder if second round elimination games are as stressful as first round ones. I hope we get to find out soon. Right now this feels all too familiar and while the story has consistently played out one way, today I’m betting on the script being flipped.
Emotional hedging is over
Sure, the payout is a little sweeter for Tampa with a +110 Moneyline vs. the Leafs -131, but why would you want to be that person? If you were emotionally hedging you’ve had six other games to do so, and now is the time to bank on the Leafs. Make the victory sweeter, rather than searching for a consolation prize (unless this is an attempt to offset the cost of Game 7 tickets, then do what you’ve got to do.)
The biggest stars have to shine
If (read: When) the Leafs win tonight it will need to be on the strength of their star players. Anytime goals from the big four are as follows:
Auston Matthews: -120
Mitch Marner: +175
William Nylander: +195
John Tavares: +220
With the way Tavares has been going, and the better payout, that’s the one I’m going with tonight.
It was never going to be easy
While I’m counting on a Leafs win, it’s still the Leafs and expect to be biting my nai …

Read More

Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Report: Toronto Blue Jays offered Brett Gardner a one-year, $6-million contract

In an effort to try and round out their batting order, the Toronto Blue Jays reportedly offered lefty Brett Gardner a one-year, $6-million deal, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports.

Gardner, 38, has spent his entire 14-year career with the New York Yankees and the offer from the Jays came after the lockout ended, Rosenthal reported citing unnamed sources.
He appeared in 140 games last year for the Yankees slashing .222/.327/.367 while smashing 10 home runs and 39 RBI’s.
If Brett Gardner is going to play again, it likely will only be for the Yankees, the team that drafted him in the third round out of the College of Charleston in 2005. And now that the Yankees seemingly have moved on from the free-agent outfielder, it appears his 14-year career might be over.
Gardner, 38, turned down a one-year, $6 million offer from the Blue Jays after the conclusion of the lockout, sources said. More recently, the Braves gauged his interest after learning outfielder Eddie Rosario would miss eight-to-12 weeks while recovering from a laser procedure to correct blurred vision and swelling in his right eye. Gardner declined to pursue the opportunity.
If this is it for Gardner, he will retire with 1,470 hits, 274 stolen bases and 139 home runs. He appeared in 140 or more games 10 times, including what might have been his final season in 2021. A World Series champion in 2009, All-Star in 2015 and Gold Glove winner in 2016, he also tied for the American League lead with 49 stol …

Read More

Author: Zach Laing / Blue Jays Nation

Canadian Men’s Hockey Team isn’t inspiring confidence in the Olympic tournament

The elimination round of Men’s Hockey at the Olympics is finally here, and was it ever interesting.
While Finland, USA, the ROC and Sweden had booked their ticket to the quarter-finals in round robin play, more teams were needed to round out the matchups.
Those four teams watched on as Slovakia took on Germany, Switzerland faced Czechia, Denmark played Latvia, and Canada finished off the day with a game against China.
Slovakia vs. Germany
The German team has had an interesting Olympics thus far.
It was obviously a tough group with the United States and Canada in it, but this seemed like an easy test to get to the quarter-finals. (Germany won a silver medal at the 2018 Olympic Games.)
Their game against Slovakia, though, was a little bit different.
Slovakia played a difficult game against the Germans, actually ousting them from the tournament with a 4-0 win.
With the win, the Slovaks arrive at the quarter-finals to take on the United States, which will be their most difficult test yet.
Denmark vs. Latvia
A great story with Team Latvia unfortunately came to an end today as they lost 3-2 to Denmark.
It was a tie game heading into the third period, which meant an exciting ending for either team. 1:45 into the period and Markus Lauridsen scored for …

Read More

Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Matthew Knies and Nick Abruzzese link up for goal in win over Germany

The final day of the Men’s preliminary round in Beijing had four games and they did not disappoint.
Early in Beijing saw Slovakia take on Latvia, a bit later we had Sweden taking on Finland, and early in the morning we had a set of games — Canada vs. China and USA against Germany.
One of the things I like about the Olympics is that every team makes it past the preliminary round. With teams getting the chance to play elimination hockey, it makes it more exciting.
More teams risking it all — I love that.
Slovakia vs. Latvia
Each of these games today had something special to offer if you’re a Maple Leafs fan, especially this one.
Slovakia ended up defeating Latvia in regulation, but it was the first goal of the game which got it started.
And that goal was scored by former Maple Leaf, Martin Marincin.

#hockey: Martin Marincin y va d’un tir avec des yeux qui va tromper la vigilance du gardien letton. C’est 1-0 Slovaquie#rcolympiques #beijing2022 pic.twitter.com/sJN6SRwysT
— Radio-Canada Sports (@RC_Sports) February 13, 2022

With a 5-2 win, Slovakia gets their first points of the tournament and places them in third for the qualification round.
Finland vs. Sweden
The winner of this game would finish in first place in Group C during the preliminary round.
A lot of players related to the Maple Leafs were in this one. On Sweden, there’s prospect, Pontus Holmberg, who unfortunately didn’t get much ice-time during this game. For Finland, you’ve got Leo Komarov, Mikko Lehtonen, and Miro Aaltonen.
In terms of players related to Toronto, not much happened.
Going into the third period, Sweden had a 3-0 lead. Finland came storming back, scoring their second goal with five minutes remaining in the game. With less than three minutes left, Finland scored the game-tying goal. Lehtonen, who led all Team Finland players in ice-time had the secondary assist on it.
The game went to overtime and Harri Pesonen scored two minutes in and won the game for Finland.

HARRI PESONEN!!! RUOTSI ON KAADETTU!!#olympialaiset #peking2022 #olympiakisat #leijonat pic.twitter.com/FS5FCUe3MK
— discovery+ sport (@dplussportfi) February …

Read More

Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Kim St-Pierre shares Hockey Hall of Fame phone call, and talks about Women’s Hockey

Kim St-Pierre was out for a round of golf with her husband and two children when she got one of the most important phone calls of her life.
Throughout her career, the 42-year-old has answered the phone many times. Some were from the Canadian National Team saying she’s going to the Olympics or World Championships. There was even a point where a call came in from the Montreal Canadiens asking her to come practice with the team.
But on June 24th, 2020, this call was different.
“Every year people say, ‘Ah, maybe it’s gonna be you!’ and you’re like, ‘There are so many great players.’” St-Pierre said about her thoughts about getting the call from the Hall of Fame. “That day, I knew the press conference was happening. It was probably just half an hour away and I was just playing golf with my kids and my husband, so I was like, ‘It’s not this year!’ I was like, ‘I can’t wait to see who’s gonna get in.’ And finally, the phone rang with a 416 number, and I was like, ‘Uhhhhhh.’ And then I stopped, I didn’t know what to do. ‘Do I answer …

Read More

Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

When it comes to Mitch Marner it’s always complicated

When it comes to Mitch Marner it’s always complicated

After the first round playoff exit last spring it seemed all but certain that there were going to be some high expectations attached to Mitch Marner and a demand for him answering his critics. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened and instead Mitch Marner has put up just one assist in the first four games, while averaging 22 minutes a night. Supporters of Mitch will point to the fact that the first three games were played without Auston Matthews. Critics of Marner will point to the fact that he was still playing with John Tavares, and as an $11M winger, it’s not an absurd expectation that he produce some offense himself.
When it comes to offence, Marner’s one point in the first four games is already up there with his biggest regular season slumps. Last year the longest stretch Marner went without a point was two games, he’s already at a three game pointless streak. You would have to go back to February of 2019 to see the last time Mitch Marner went three games without a point, which points to the fact that he’s struggling now, but should also serve as a reminder that once he snaps out …

Read More

Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Digging into late-round pick Nick Fraze’s strong season with Vancouver

It’s safe to say that most late round picks of the MLB draft don’t make it to their respective team’s top 30 prospects, much less make a name for themselves in the big leagues. Toronto Blue Jays’ 22nd round pick from 2019, Nick Fraze, is well on his way to breaking into the former, with the potential to make the latter. We’ll get to that, firstly, let’s go over the history of 22nd round picks and their success in the big leagues.

If you were to give me a list of baseball players picked in the 22nd round since 1965, I can name you 1409 players. 114 of which played a game in the MLB and only 22 of those players have a Wins Above Replacement over 4. A player picked in the 22nd round has a 1.6% chance of becoming impactful.
Furthermore, there is a possibility that some of these players were drafted out of high school and decided to go to College to raise their stock, such as Aaron Nola, who was picked 7th overall three years later. The most notable of players who didn’t get re-drafted are John Smoltz, who had a bWAR of 69, nice, Andy Piettitte, Jeff Fassero, …

Read More

Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Later round selections for the Toronto Six: Leah Marino, Olivia Atkinson, Darya Teryoshkina

fter a busy first and second round for the Toronto Six where they made 5 selections, bolstering their roster with 3 forwards and 2 defenders, they had only one selection per round to make for the last 3 rounds of the draft.
Let’s get right into who they added.
Leah Marino
This pick was announced by NBC’s Kate Scott, who did play-by-play for the broadcasts of the semifinals and finals of the 2021 Isobel Cup. This was Toronto’s 6th pick of the night, coming in the third round, 16th overall.
Marino is a depth forward for the Robert Morris University ice hockey team. She scored only 11 points in her 3 seasons there. She stands a little taller than average at 5’9″. While depth is certainly an important role, her lack of production makes this a curious selection. However, the Six must have something planned with this selection that we’re not privy to. There’s very little you can get from just points per game.
Olivia Atkinson
The 22nd overall pick and Toronto’s 7th selection of the night was made by Canadian Olympians Carolyn Ouelette and Julie Chu.
Atkinson is a forward who played with Concordia University for this past hockey. She …

Read More

Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation