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 …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Maple Leafs’ Auston Matthews to miss game against Flyers on Tuesday with undisclosed injury

Auston Matthews will miss his second consecutive game with an undisclosed injury when the Toronto Maple Leafs host the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.
Matthews was on the ice early along fellow injured teammates Ondrej Kase (concussion), Jake Muzzin (undisclosed) and Rasmus Sandin (knee).

Here is some video Matthews, Muzzin, Sandin and Kase working on some drills. #Leafs pic.twitter.com/18SeuSEu0z
— David Alter (@dalter) April 19, 2022

Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe confirmed all four of them would not be available.
Matthews was held out of the team’s 4-2 win against the New York Islanders on Sunday. Keefe didn’t want to disclose the nature of his star’s injury citing the minor status of the injury combined with the secrecy that comes with injuries so close to playoffs time.
The 24-year-old has sent the franchise record in goals this season and currently sits at 58. He also became just the third player in team history to hit the 100-point mark in a season, becoming the first to do so since Doug Gilmour accomplished the feat during the 1992-93 season,
After Tuesday’s game, the Leafs have just five games remaining in the regular season, but the club is prioritizing the player’s health.
“Maybe he could play through that (the injury) but it doesn’t make sense for it to happen,” Keefe said of Matthews. “It just speaks to the fact that we’re looking bigger picture here.”
The Leafs have clinched a playoffs spot and set a new franchise record for wins (50) and points (106) in season after their win on Sunday. They also hold a six point lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning for second place in the Atlantic Division.
”We‘ve got team accomplishments, individual accomplishments, we’re mindful of them and they are important …

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Author: David Alter / The Leafs Nation

It would benefit the Maple Leafs to see more of Kristiāns Rubīns in the NHL

For the second time this season, Kristiāns Rubīns is back in the NHL with the Maple Leafs.
After Thursday night’s game vs. the Washington Capitals, Jake Muzzin had an injury flare up, which meant Toronto needed to make an emergency call-up.

The Maple Leafs have recalled defenceman Kristiāns Rubīns from the Toronto Marlies (AHL) on an emergency basis.
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) April 15, 2022

There are a number of worthy players from the Marlies such as Carl Dahlstrom, Joseph Duszak, and Teemu Kivihalme who deserve a call-up to the NHL.
But they elected to go with Rubīns, and here’s why.
I will admit, firstly, that there’s likely two ways the Maple Leafs could be looking at this. One, this is just protection in case another player gets injured and they need someone to play. Or, they want to see Rubīns play some games down the stretch at the NHL level and see what he’s got before the playoffs.
If I had to guess which option it was, I’d say it’s the first.
Toronto is looking to secure home-ice advantage going into the first round of the playoffs and while there’s a good opportunity for Rubīns, I’m not sure they want to risk losing home-ice. But honestly, it wouldn’t make sense to not let the 24-year-old play some games.
At some point, you have to see what the Latvian has at the NHL level. Toronto is already testing Nick Abruzzese on the fourth line without giving Nick Robertson or Alex Steeves — two deserving players — a look.
So, why not Rubīns?
He’s done everything he poss …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

3 position battles Toronto Raptors must watch in the second half

3 position battles Toronto Raptors must watch in the second half

The Toronto Raptors began the second half of the 2021-22 season in a very concerning fashion thanks to defeats against the Hornets and Hawks by 32 and 27 points, respectively. The once-feared lineup that was taking down Eastern contenders doesn’t look as mighty. Not only is Fred VanVleet dealing with an injury that is making […]
3 position battles Toronto Raptors must watch in the second half – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Raptors Game Tonight: Raptors vs Nets Odds, Starting Lineup, Injury Report, Predictions, TV Channel for Feb. 28

Raptors Game Tonight: Raptors vs Nets Odds, Starting Lineup, Injury Report, Predictions, TV Channel for Feb. 28

The Toronto Raptors have started the second half in just about the worst fashion possible, as both the Hornets and the Hawks blew the doors off them. Luckily, the latest Raptors odds have them positioned to break their losing streak against a division rival. Nick Nurse and the rest of the team will take on […]
Raptors Game Tonight: Raptors vs Nets Odds, Starting Lineup, Injury Report, Predictions, TV Channel for Feb. 28 – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

3 very bold second half predictions for the Toronto Raptors

3 very bold second half predictions for the Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors have started the second half in just about the worst way possible after two blowouts on the road, but that is no reason to get overly pessimistic about their long-term prospects. The squad is still positioned to make the play-in tournament. The club will need to overcome a hobbled Fred VanVleet and […]
3 very bold second half predictions for the Toronto Raptors – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Previewing key Raptors matchups in the second half of the season

Previewing key Raptors matchups in the second half of the season

With the second half of the season coming up, the Toronto Raptors are currently sitting in the 7th seed six games back from contenders like the Bulls and Heat. In a general sense, Nick Nurse has done a fine job of coaching this season. Before the NBA All-Star break, where Fred VanVleet made his first all-star […]
Previewing key Raptors matchups in the second half of the season – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Sai Pirapakaran / Raptors HQ

‘His strength is his strength’ How Bobby McMann made an immediate impact with the Toronto Marlies

Meet Bobby McMann.
The 25-year-old is in his second season with the Toronto Marlies, just two years removed from his college hockey career.
McMann spent four years at Colgate University, which is located in Hamilton, New York. Throughout the four seasons in college, he had 92 points.
In his final year at Colgate, McMann served as the captain and was also a Hobey Baker Award nominee.
And that’s when the Marlies signed him to a two-year AHL contract.
He was born in Wainwright, Alberta — just 42 minutes outside of Edmonton. At the young age of two-years-old, McMann began skating.
“I wanted to play hockey when I was four, but I remember sitting in the car and my Dad telling me that I wasn’t allowed to play until I was five.” said McMann. “That was one of my first memories, actually, that I still remember today.”
At 13, McMann was playing Double-A rep hockey with the Under-15 Wainwright Polar Kings. Year after year, McMann moved up, eventually playing under-18 hockey with the Lloydminster Bobcats Triple-A team at the age of 16.
When players are doing that well at such a young age, it’s tough to pinpoint where they might go in their career. For McMann, he never thought about it like that.
It was just a dream.
“I never really thought of it as …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Sizing up the American League East: The Boston Red Sox

This is the second article in the series “meeting the AL East teams.”
This article will be focused on the Boston Red Sox. Unlike the lowly Baltimore Orioles, the Red Sox are a solid team looking to build off a performance that saw them reach the ALCS in 2021. Let’s take a look at the project position player lineup, according to FanGraphs.

Infielders:
Christian Vazquez (Catcher)
Kevin Plawecki (Catcher)
Bobby Dalbec (First Baseman)
Enrique Hernandez (Second Baseman)
Xander Bogaerts (Shortstop)
Rafael Devers (Third Baseman)
Christian Arroyo (Utility)
Triston Casas (First Baseman)
While Vazquez doesn’t produce great offense, he finished 2021 with a 5 DRS and is a career 40 DRS catcher. Unlike Baltimore, the Orioles actually have an MLB catcher. In contrast, Plawecki had a DRS of -3, however had a slightly above average wRC+ of 102. In the shortened 2020 season, that wRC was 134, which is very good, albeit in a small sample size.
Bobby Dalbec is a serviceable 1B with quite a few holes in his game. The 26-year-old had a slash line of .240/.298/.792 with 25 home runs. However, Bobby had an incredibly high K% of 34.4%, which was actually down from his 42.4% in 2020. He’s a right hander with pop, which is perfect for Fenway, but he could realistically be upgraded.
The Red Sox received quite a few players in return for Mookie Betts, one of these players being 30-year-old Enrique Hernandez. The second baseman had a good 2021 owning a slash line of .250/.337/.786. He chipped in 20 home runs as a second baseman an …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

News from the Rink: Auston Matthews not ruled out ahead of Maple Leafs vs. Oilers

For the second straight day, Auston Matthews has missed Maple Leafs practice. Yesterday, Sheldon Keefe said the 24-year-old tested positive on his rapid test, but they’d find out more from his PCR test today.
Shortly after the Maple Leafs finished practice, Keefe confirmed that Matthews’ PCR test came back negative and isn’t ruled out of tomorrow’s game.

Sheldon Keefe said Auston Matthews’ PCR test came back negative. He was held out of practice today for precautionary reasons. He’s not been ruled out to play on Wednesday night.
— Jonas Siegel (@jonassiegel) January 4, 2022

It’s a sigh of relief for the Maple Leafs, who are getting ready for a four-game road trip after their matchup vs. the Oilers on Wednesday. One of their games on the road is in Arizona, where Matthews grew up. It looks like, after testing negative, he’ll be able to play in that game.
There was, however, one positive test within the team today that came from Maple Leafs’ assistant coach, Dean Chynoweth.

Keefe says assistant coach Dean Chynoweth was confirmed positive for COVID-19.
— David Alter (@dalter) January 4, 2022

He missed Monday and Tuesday’s practices, similar to Matthews, and will be away from the …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation