Blue Jays can’t solve New York’s bullpen as Yankees win series opener

It seems the Yankees can, in fact, beat teams other than Baltimore, Kansas City, and Detroit.

New York picked up a 3-2 win in Toronto on Monday night in the series opener and stretched their winning streak to 10 games in the process.
Things worth mentioning…
It was yet another game of limp bats for the Blue Jays as the team managed just two runs off of Jordan Montgomery and New York’s bullpen. All of Toronto’s offence came when the team mounted a rally in the fourth inning, as George Springer singled, Bo Bichette drove him in with a double, and Matt Chapman drove in another run with a single. The Blue Jays had plenty of opportunities, but they couldn’t manage to cash in. Bo Bichette and Vladdy Jr. led off the sixth inning with a single and a walk but Lourdes Gurriel killed the rally with a double play. In the eighth, it was Chapman grounding into a double play with Vladdy and Gurriel on first and second.
The bottom of the order almost scored a run late as Tyler Heineman laced a double into right field with Alejandro Kirk on first. As hard as the Locomotive can chug, Kirk obviously isn’t scoring from first unless there’s divine interventio …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Relax, Auston Matthews is going to win the Hart

It seems like with Auston Matthews crossing the 100-point mark last night it’s a good time to revisit just how special his season has been. Last week he became the greatest goal scorer in history, and this week he’s joined Darryl Sittler and Doug Gilmour as a member of the 100-point club for the Leafs. Matthews is still the front runner and likely recipient of the Rocket Richard Trophy for the second time in his career, but for the first time since the 1992-93 season, the Leafs have a player that is genuinely in the Hart conversation. And while McDavid’s Art Ross numbers certainly make a case for him, Igor Shesterkin carrying the Rangers as much as he has makes a strong case for him, and there is a strange pocket of people that are oddly obsessed with Jonathan Huberdeau’s season, the likely choice is still going to be Matthews.
Matthews will have the merit for winning this, in fact, he already does. If he hits 60 goals, a mark that has only been hit two times this century, that will only strengthen the case. Although 58 is already an impressive number and the fourth most we’ve seen in the 2000s (Bure hitting 5 …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The dream is dead! Jose Ramirez signed a five-year contract extension with Cleveland

It seems that we can finally put the Jose Ramirez To Toronto idea to bed.

According to Jon Heyman, Ramirez has inked a five-year, $124 million extension to stick around in Cleveland (he also appears to not be aware of the team’s name change). Ramirez’s current deal was set to expire following the 2023 season.

Jose Ramirez is in agreement on a $124M 5-year extension with Indians. Now guaranteed $150M. More than doubles previous Tribe record deal of $60M (Edwin Encarnacion).
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) April 6, 2022

This has been quite the saga over the past few weeks. There was a Hector Gomez rumour that stated Ramirez was nearing a deal with Cleveland and that they would do whatever it took to keep him with the team for life, and then it was reported that the deal was all but dead because they low-balled him, and then Carlos Baerga got in the mix by again posting Ramirez in Blue Jays gear on his Instagram and doing an advertisement-filled Instagram Live show about it.
Anyways, here we are now. Cleveland has finally paid a star to stick around and Ramirez won’t be a Blue Jay, meaning we’ll collectively have to find a new player to obsess about before the trade deadline.
The Blue Jays will go into the 2022 season with a platoon of Santiago Espinal and Cavan Biggio at second base. Orelvis Martinez is a name to watch here as well, as he’s starting in Double-A and the word is that he’ll get some playing time at second. That would likely be his fastest path to the big leagues. …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

The Leafs week ahead: Tough Florida trip, Muzzin returning, and a chance to clinch

It seems like another big week for Toronto, and until they get that “x” next to their name on the standings page, I guess they’ll all be big weeks. Still, this one seems like the most significant part of the schedule remaining, so let’s dive into why.
The toughest possible back to back
Starting off the week in Tampa Bay is already a tough start. Putting a game against Florida right after is about the toughest back-to-back imaginable for the Leafs, and yes, another significant test of their playoff readiness. While a lot can change in the next month, it seems most likely that the Leafs and Lightning will face each other in the first round, and with the Leafs not having seen a lot of Tampa of late, this is a great chance to familiarize them.
It seems like a fortunate turn of events that Florida is the second part of the back-to-back as the Panthers having recently clinched their playoff birth are a bit more likely to take their foot off the gas against the Maple …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Time to utilize the Leafs defensive “depth”

It seems like only last week the Leafs were feeling so comfortable in their defensive depth that they could afford to let Travis Dermott walk for a 3rd round pick (a good decision), and that they could cut Alex Biega loose from the Marlies in favour of an AHL loan of Phillipe Myers from the Predators (again, not a bad decision), and the disposal of Brennan Menell (meh.) It was shortly after those moves that the Leafs found themselves faced with a serious injury to Rasmus Sandin, coupled with the ongoing injury to Jake Muzzin, that left the Leafs with limited NHL defensive depth. Luckily it seemed that the top six were gelling.
Then Tuesday night against the Bruins occurred and we are again reminded of how fragile the illusion of depth can be. Both Justin Holl and Ilya Lyubushkin left the game and didn’t return, leaving the Leafs to play the final period with just four blueliners, a task that was performed somewhat respectably and certainly put to rest the debate on whether or not the Leafs needed Mark Giordano at the trade deadline. Still, that leads to the question of who plays if Lyubushkin or Holl can’t play.
First off, let me start by saying …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Seravalli: Maple Leafs are the preferred destination of Mark Giordano

A few days I wrote about how it seems that Mark Giordano seems to be destined to come to Toronto. There hasn’t been any shortage of rumours connecting the team and the player, and it seems like a possible source of that connection could be coming directly from the player himself.

The Daily Faceoff Show – Mar 17 Feat. Frank Seravalli & Mike McKenna https://t.co/dRlI4N4L0P
— Daily Faceoff (@DailyFaceoff) March 17, 2022

On his show, Frank goes into how Toronto is Giordano’s personal preferred landing spot, and while the Kraken will still trade Giordano to the team that provides them with the best offer, there is an “all things being equal” attitude about trying to facilitate the move to Giordano’s preference, if possible.
So that gets us back around to a couple of things. Knowing that the Leafs’ priority seems to be on defense, how high is Giordano on their list? Seemingly there is a deal almost ready to be had with Seattle if they wanted it, but is it a matter of Toronto still looking for a player with term, or a right shot, or is Giordano a possible Plan B to Lindholm?
There’s also a matter of what price the Kraken are hoping to get. Now that Chiarot has landed a 1st+, the 2nd and a prospect offer might not cut it. At least until the Kraken can confirm that no one is offering up a first.
We’ve touched on the benefits of bringing in Giordano previously. In addition to being good at his job, he’s a leader, a playoff performer, and has established chemistry with TJ Brodie. There is also the possibility that this could be an interesting opportunity to see if Giordano can be a fit with the Leafs beyond this season. If …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Trade Deadline Mailbag: Moving Mrazek, Interest in Giroux, where Giordano would fit on the Leafs and more

It’s NHL trade deadline time, and that seems like as good a time as any for a mailbag. While we’ve been trying to build up some excitement about the deadline on the site, I’d have to say that two truths are emerging.
#1. All of the moves happening in the NFL and MLB are infinitely more exciting than anything that will be done at the NHL trade deadline, and I say that as someone who has very little interest in the NFL.
#2. It’s hard to be excited about the deadline when you are absolutely terrified of the trade deadline. I think the Nick Foligno trade broke me, and what was once a fun time of optimism is now two anxious weeks worried that Kyle Dubas will give up a first round pick for Ben Chiarot. Monday at 3pm can’t come fast enough.
In the spirit of terrifying excitement, here are some questions from our readers…
Breaky asks: Is any team going to take Mrazek from the Leafs? I can’t see it happening.
Dylan Murphy: I think there’s a case to be made that Mrazek isn’t a fit with the Leafs strictly because he can’t deal with the pressure of a big market. He is a better goali …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Conor Garland is the latest Canucks player the Leafs are rumoured to be pursuing

It seems like most of the players the Leafs have been connected to are either Arizona Coyotes or Vancouver Canucks, so it seemed like only a matter of time before a former Coyote on the Canucks would get the spotlight as a trade target.

You already knew there were teams interested in J.T Miller, but chatter on Conor Garland has picked up, I can report. Leafs a possible suitor.
A look at the Canucks who might move ahead of the trade deadline.https://t.co/y3E38i6bBb
— Patrick Johnston (@risingaction) March 3, 2022

I’ll start by saying that I’m a big fan of Conor Garland. He’s a player I would have targeted back when the Coyotes were rumoured to be moving him, and the fact that he’s being made available looks like a chance to right a wrong and hop on a player that, interestingly enough, had some success with Michael Bunting.
Garland has a chippiness and edge to his game that doesn’t necessarily show up in the hit category. He’s a little waterbug like Bunting, but I think because of the players like Bunting we should be at the point where size needs to be considered a driving factor in addressing the Leafs’ physical play. Still, he’s 5’10, and that’s going to put some people off.
As does the fact that Garland who looked like he was moving towards breaking out has taken a step back this year. After 39 points (22 goals) in 68 games in 2019-20 followed by 39 points in 49 games last season, only having 30 points in 50 games this year is a definite step backward, and suddenly his $4.9M AAV contract doesn’ …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Dreger reporting the Leafs looking at multiple assets ahead of the trade deadline

It seems like we’re approaching a very busy NHL trade deadline for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
After Jake Muzzin was injured in Monday’s game vs. the Montreal Canadiens, he was sent to the hospital for further testing. Sheldon Keefe said Muzzin returned to the hotel after and was feeling better, but has since went back to Toronto.
“He’s travelled home, here today, and is resting there,” Keefe said prior to Toronto’s game against Columbus. “He’s just going to go through concussion protocols and all that kind of stuff, but we’ll be patient with that of course. But all considered, it’s positive today in terms of how he’s responded.”
The Maple Leafs have a decision to make in the coming days or weeks with whether or not they want to place Muzzin on LTIR. That decision also depends on if Muzzin wants to be placed there until the playoffs begin.
If Toronto does place him on long-term injured reserve, it opens up close to $5.6 million in cap space for Dubas to work with. And by the sounds of things, it seems like the Maple Leafs might go for it when they find the right deal.
On Tuesday, during Insider Trading, TSN’s Darren Dreger discussed a few players Toronto might be looking at ahe …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Maple Leafs’ Jack Campbell regains starter form in back-to-back wins

Lately, it seems like the Toronto Maple Leafs and their likelihood of winning games has correlated with how quickly they take a lead or fall behind.
On Thursday night, in their first game in front of thousands of fans in 2022 (they had 500 for some of those games), Auston Matthews opened the scoring just 21 seconds into the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. From there, Jack Campbell made a season-high 45 saves on 46 shots for a convincing 4-1 victory at Scotiabank Arena.
“He’s been outstanding for us all season, but I thought today was maybe as calm and poised as he’s looked all season,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said of Campbell. “Even the difficult saves, I thought he made look easy tonight and that was really really good.”
If it sounds like the head coach is relieved, it’s because he should be.
The Maple Leafs’ starting goaltender had a difficult January where he posted an .880 save percentage, his worst month since joining the team in a trade from the Los Angeles Kings in February of 2020.
Although he seemed …

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Author: David Alter / The Leafs Nation