BJN Radio – Ep. 42: Just scraping by the Trash Birds

We are back after a short hiatus!

The series against the Baltimore “Trash Bird” Orioles was one we’ve all had marked on our calendars for quite some time as three automatic wins. That didn’t happen.
Robbie Ray put up an amazing start and Vladdy hit two homers in the opener, but a sixth-inning meltdown from Hyun Jin Ryu and some limp bats resulted in a loss in the second game. Finally, in the third game, Toronto narrowly squeezed out a victory on what was probably the most 2021 Blue Jays play possible, a go-ahead fly-ball double play. Sexy stuff!
We talked about the limp bats at the bottom of the order, what Nate Pearson can bring to the team, and we also looked ahead to the upcoming series against Oakland, which can ultimately sink or swim the season.
You can listen to the episode here…

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Civil Discourse: What has your patience running thin about the Maple Leafs?

Civil Discourse: What has your patience running thin about the Maple Leafs?

Welcome to Civil Discourse, a new article series where two TLN writers discuss a topic of interest rationally without resorting to personal insults. So basically the anti-Twitter.
Mark Norman
We’ll get into discussing our own anxieties about this franchise in short order, but Dylan you saw the All or Nothing trailer, which depicted a clearly-upset Kyle Dubas uttering that now famous phrase “I don’t know what the **** is going to happen, my patience is running thin.” What was the first thing that popped into your head when he said that, and with more reflection upon it have you changed your answer?
Dylan Murphy
My initial reaction to hearing that line was “OK, this is actually going to be worth watching” and while typing up the news hit about the trailer and series release date, I thought about what Dubas could have been talking about. My hope is that that clip is from the final episode during exit meetings, but after some reflection, I think that expectations of the scene’s significance should be lowered because I’m thinking it’s more likely to be something related to the trade deadline, such as delays in getting the Nick Foligno …

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Author: Mark Norman / The Leafs Nation

Civil Discourse: The Maple Leafs’ new goaltending tandem

(Welcome to Civil Discourse, a new article series where two TLN writers discuss a topic of interest rationally without resorting to personal insults. So basically the anti-Twitter.)
Mark Norman
I know we’re here to talk about the Leafs goaltending going into this season, but I just wanted to briefly look back on Jack Campbell’s play last season. What stood out to you about Jack’s 2020-21 season?
Jori Negin-Shecter
I’m no technical goalie expert but Campbell’s emergence last year was really remarkable to watch from afar. His demeanour in the net was just so different from what Frederik Andersen had brought since he started struggling part way through the 19-20 season. Just the utmost composure even in the highest intensity spots. A fantastic playoff run. Campbell really looked the part of a starter in the National Hockey League. The only thing is that by going out and signing Petr Mrazek, Kyle Dubas clearly doesn’t seem to believe that statement.
Mark
I don’t seem to remember much in the way of bad goals being scored against Campbell last season. Every goalie obviously has goals they’d like back, such as Gallagher’s far-out wrister in …

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Author: Mark Norman / The Leafs Nation

No matter how this series in Boston goes, it’s difficult to justify the Blue Jays being sellers

This weekend’s series against the New York Mets perfectly encapsulated the overarching experience of the 2021 Blue Jays thus far.

The team got shut down by a rookie starting pitcher on Friday and then they followed that up on Saturday by blowing up for 10 runs. Saturday’s game appeared to be a game-changer for Toronto’s momentum, as a new-look lineup injected life into the bats and George Springer fired up the team with arguably the best catch we’ve seen this season.
Then, on Sunday, they gave it right back. Ross Stripling had a solid start, the bats came through with a three-run rally in the sixth inning, and then the bullpen went ahead and did what it’s done so, so, so many times this season, melting down immediately after. To put a bow on top, the team flirted with a comeback late in the game but ultimately failed to do so.
One step forward, two steps back.
Since coming out of the All-Star break at full speed and kicking the shit out of the Texas Rangers in a three-game sweep, the Blue Jays have dropped four of five. They now sit 49-46, a distant nine-and-a-half games back …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Ilya Mikheyev has some work to do this offseason

Welcome to the TLN Year in Review series on the Leafs players. One by one we’ll go through the entire roster and assess what went right and what went wrong for each player last season and what we think the futre holds for them. Today’s article features souperman Ilya Mikheyev.
2020-21 Season Recap

Mikheyev is an interesting player to evaluate. On the one hand, he’s got speed to burn…

Yes, Mikheyev has got elite speed and an incredible work ethic too. But other than that, he doesn’t really bring much else.
For the season, Mikheyev recorded 17 points, only seven of which were goals. Funny enough, he attempted exactly 173 shots on goal in back-to-back seasons. Last season, that equates to just over four shot attempts per game (39 games). This season, just over three shot attempts per game (54 games). At first glance this might be a cause for concern. Dig a little deeper, and we find out that Mikheyev was buried in defensive zone starts this season. This lines up with the ideology from Sheldon Keefe of wanting to have a super shutdown third line. Mikheyev started a whopping 65.1% of his shifts in the defensive zone. The only …

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Author: Brendan Mori / The Leafs Nation

John Tavares is an important Toronto Maple Leaf

Welcome to the TLN Year in Review series on the Leafs players. One by one we’ll go through the entire roster and assess what went right and what went wrong for each player last season and what we think the future holds for them. Today’s article features our captain, pajama boy, John Tavares.
Year three for John Tavares as a Toronto Maple Leaf was an interesting one. Coming off of a down year where Tavares recorded 20 goals and 60 points, there were many nights last season where Tavares would collect his points, but it felt like he wasn’t doing things that an 11 million dollar player should. This led to a lot of offseason discussion on whether or not Tavares was entering his decline faster than anticipated. You add this to the disappointing loss to Columbus in the bubble and you have unreasonable discussions of trading John Tavares.
2020-21 Season Recap
 

If you remember way back in January, Sheldon Keefe rolled out this top nine to start the season:
 

LW
C
RW

JOE THORNTON

AUSTON MATTHEWS

MITCH MARNER

JIMMY VESEY

JOHN TAVARES

WILLIAM NYLANDER

ILYA MIKHEYEV

ALEXANDER KERFOOT

ZACH HYMAN

The thinking was (at least when the team was …

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Author: Brendan Mori / The Leafs Nation

Mitch Marner is an incredible talent but we should absolutely be debating if he has a future with the Leafs

Welcome to the TLN Year in Review series on the Leafs players. One by one we’ll go through the entire roster and assess what went right and what went wrong for each player last season and what we think the futre holds for them. Rather than keep you all waiting for his name to come up at a random point, we’re starting off with a bang and going with a player that might be the most polarizing Leafs player at the moment, and rightfully so.
For three of the last four seasons Mitch Marner has been the Leafs leading scorer. He was on pace to finish with a career best regular season point total of 98 points, and have a legitimate shot at a 100 point season. After a 16 goal season last year, Marner worked on his shot and came back with 20 goals in 55 games this year. He’s received votes for the Lady Byng, Selke, and Allstar teams in the past, and this year, more than any other he has a legitimate shot at being named to either the first or second all-star team as he led all RW in points. Yes, there’s a lot to like about …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The Leafs are wasting a prime opportunity and they only have themselves to blame

The Leafs are wasting a prime opportunity and they only have themselves to blame

“It was 3-1.”
That is going to be the latest in a series of mocking phrases directed towards the Leafs if they cannot win Game 7 on Monday night. And with this being the fifth year of the Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander era, their chances are not looking good based on their past history.

The Leafs have lost 7 consecutive possible close-out games, across five different series, since May 13, 2013. @NHLNetwork @SNstats @FAN590
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) May 30, 2021

Since the Leafs defeated the Senators in Game 7 of their 2004 first-round matchup, they have played in seven games with a chance to advance to the next round. They have lost all seven of those games, which is tied for the second-longest losing streak in NHL playoff history. There is no sugarcoating this: it’s simply unacceptable to be this inept at closing out a series.
Because of this unparalleled amount of failure, people will often look for reasons as to why things unravelled for all the world to see. One of the most common reasons fans go to is the team simply lacks “killer instinct” and it’s easy to see why.
The most famous example is in 2013 where they chocked away a 4 …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

Taking a pulse check before Game 5 of the Leafs and Canadiens

Taking a pulse check before Game 5 of the Leafs and Canadiens

It’s understatement time. This series has had it’s ups and downs. It’s mainly been ups, but the injury to John Tavares is certainly one hell of a downer, and we could have probably done without the Nick Foligno injury too. The reality is outcome wise, the series is very much on track with how people predicted it to go. Our very scientific poll, and TLN contributor predictions all leaned heavily towards this being a 5 or 6 game series with the outcome favoring the Leafs, and here we are, heading into Game 5 and the Leafs have a chance to defeat the Habs in a playoff series for the first time since 1967, and even more importantly, it’s a chance for the Leafs to move beyond the first round of the playoffs for the first time since Pat Quinn was behind the bench. Maybe the Leafs haven’t slayed their dragon yet, but they are at least slaying Orcs, or angry wizards, or something.
It’s in that spirit that we check on the Leafs, and see what has impressed us so far, and what is something that needs to be addressed (wonder if the powerplay will be mentioned.) Here’ …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Leafs look to put strangehold on series on second half of back-to-back

Less than 24 hours after securing a 2-1 series lead over the Montreal Canadiens, the Leafs will take to the ice again tonight for Game 4 of the series. A loss sends the Leafs back home with the series tied once again, but a win will pull the series victory to within striking distance and set up a date in the second round with the Winnipeg Jets.
Sheldon Keefe has a media availability at 5 p.m. so we won’t know until then if there will be any lineup changes (such as the return of Nick Foligno after his sudden absence last night) or who the starting goaltender will be. At this moment however, all signs point towards Jack Campbell playing.
Per Arpon Basu of The Athletic, the Canadiens have several game-time decisions to make, including Artturi Lehkonen. Head coach Dominique Ducharme wouldn’t reveal anything further than that. One thing that he did confirm however, was this:

“Yeah.” – Dominique Ducharme when asked if Carey Price is playing tomorrow night.
Refreshing.
— Arpon Basu (@ArponBasu) May 25, 2021

With that, let’s get to the expected lineups:
Lineups:
Toronto Maple Leafs

LW
C
RW

ZACH HYMAN
Rating: 74.6#33 LW

AUSTON MATTHEWS
Rating: 82.3#6 C

MITCH MARNER
Rating: 76.6#18 …

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Author: Dylan Murphy / The Leafs Nation