Setting expectations for the remaining 10 Leafs games

The Leafs clinched their playoff spot. That’s pretty rad. They did it pretty early too, that’s a bit of a bonus. With ten games remaining on the Leafs schedule though, the question needs to be asked, why are we tuning in, what do we still need to see from the Leafs? And while the one answer seems pretty obvious, I was hoping to get a variety of responses from the tribunal of learned TLN contributors when I asked: With the Leafs clinching a playoff spot, what else do you want to see from the Leafs in the final regular season games?
Dylan Murphy:
Leaving aside the obvious things that are guaranteed to happen (Matthews getting to 60 goals, continuing to tinker with the defence pairings and the 4th line to find optimal combinations) I want to see the Leafs continue to put forward a strong effort and secure home-ice, if not steal the division from Florida.
Michael Mazzei:
The focus for the rest of the regular season, aside from securing home-ice advantage, is to try and experiment with the line combinations a bit to see if there is some that could work in case Sheldon Keefe needs to turn to them. The Leafs learned the hard way last year what happens if they aren’t prepared to handle the loss of a big piece for an extended period of time, so getting a head start on finding some other lines that could work will be a focus the rest of the way.
Towards the end of the regular season, the focus should then switch to making sure the team …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Raptors should keep Malachi Flynn even if they draft a point guard

Toronto Raptors should keep Malachi Flynn even if they draft a point guard

The Toronto Raptors vaulted right into the No. 4 spot in the 2021 NBA Draft order, giving them a chance to potentially draft a new franchise point guard like Jalen Suggs. This would be the second consecutive year that they go in that direction, as they added Malachi Flynn with the 29th pick in last […]
Toronto Raptors should keep Malachi Flynn even if they draft a point guard – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Toronto Raptors: Can OG Anunoby be the next Kawhi Leonard?

Toronto Raptors: Can OG Anunoby be the next Kawhi Leonard?

The Toronto Raptors are currently in the 12th spot in the Eastern Conference looking to make it into the play-in for a potential playoff appearance. However, the inconsistent lineups night in and night out are hurting their chances. The most reliable player in the final stretch of the season has been OG Anunoby. In fact, […]
Toronto Raptors: Can OG Anunoby be the next Kawhi Leonard? – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Alaa Alarashi / Raptors HQ

The Leafs hope to end their season-series against the Canucks on a high note

Now that the Leafs have secured their spot in the 2021 Playoffs, the attention now turns towards locking up the North Division to have home-ice advantage through the first two rounds at minimum. With their victory against the Canucks and the Oilers dropping their game to the Flames, Toronto’s magic number to clinch their first division title since 2000 is down to eight and that number has a chance to drop even further should things go well.
This time around will see all four of the players who sat out on Thursday night make their return to the lineup. Although Toronto is going to ice all of their best available players for this contest, this likely won’t be the last time a number of key players sit out during the final five regular-season games in accordance with load management. On the power play, Alexander Kerfoot will be taking over Alex Galchenyuk on the second unit in a likely attempt to get the latter back on track since his offensive production has stalled in recent weeks.
Vancouver enters this game with their team going through a 1-4-0 slide that has taken a hit to their already low chances of sneaking …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

The Blue Jays are going to score a lot of runs. But can their pitching hold up?

After the team snuck into a playoff spot due to the expanded post-season field, the expectation for the Blue Jays’ front office this off-season was to make a big splash.

They delivered by signing George Springer, the best outfielder on the market, to the biggest free-agent contract in franchise history, and they doubled down by adding a former MVP finalist in Marcus Semien.
In a matter of days, a good lineup became a very, very good lineup.
The Blue Jays scored the seventh-most runs in baseball in 2020 (5.03 per game), and the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox were the only teams in the American League who scored more than they did. The team produced at a high level despite having one of their most dynamic hitters, Bo Bichette, miss half of the season due to injury and despite having some black holes in the lineup like Travis Shaw and Joe Panik.
Inserting Springer, who has slashed an elite .284/.376/.576 line over the past two seasons, is a massive boon in itself, but replacing Shaw and Panik at-bats with Semien and a healthy Bichette makes the Blue Jays’ lineup one of the best in baseball.
According to FanGraphs, the Blue Jays …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Joey Anderson has been added to the Leafs’ forward group at practice

Another injury to a key forward opened up a spot for one of the Leafs depth pieces to make his way onto the roster.

Forward Joey Anderson has been added to today’s practice group. #LeafsForever
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) January 21, 2021

With Sheldon Keefe telling the media last night that Joe Thornton will be missing time after getting hurt during the third period from a Josh Archibald hit, a move would be forth coming to replace the 41-year-old for however long he will be out.
Joey Anderson being the guy to replace the future Hall of Famer was not a move many expected but he should do just fine slotting into the the bottom-six. Should he become the player brought up full-time, there will likely be a roster move made within the next few hours.
The return from the Andreas Johnsson trade played 18 games with the New Jersey Devils last season and recorded six points (four goals, two assists).
All stats unless otherwise noted are from Hockey-Reference.com.

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

Maple Leafs Pregame vs. Canes: “Wildcard, B*tches”

Okay, so the playoff spot the Leafs are in and coveting the 3rd in the Atlantic spot, but that doesn’t mean we can completely lose sight of what is happening with the wild card race. Right now both the Leafs and Canes are sitting behind the Islanders and Blue Jackets, with the Flyers pulling comfortably up into a Metropolitan playoff spot on the strength of their win over the Jets earlier today. A win for the Leafs puts them not only in much better shape in the Atlantic, but their safety school of a wild card spot starts looking more secure if they win tonight as well.
The Blue Jackets have a game against Nashville and the Panthers are playing the Golden Knights, so there is definitely some scoreboard watching happening, which should make these final 20 games incredibly fun* (*anxiety fuelled).
If the playoff race isn’t your cup of tea (then WTF is wrong with you?) it’s also the Leafs last game before the trade deadline on Monday. I doubt we’ll see any Leafs held of play tonight, as nothing seems like it has progressed to the imminent stages with Toronto, but …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Teams are reportedly calling about Tyson Barrie and Kyle Dubas is listening

With the team clinging onto a playoff spot in late-February, there’s a tremendous amount of pressure for Kyle Dubas to make a big splash that saves the Maple Leafs.

Dubas has done some interesting salary cap maneuvering that has ultimately allowed him quite a bit of financial flexibility at the trade deadline thanks to the complicated thing known as the Long Term Injured Reserve. That said, Dubas has already dealt away the team’s first- and second-round picks in this year’s draft, so being a buyer won’t be that simple.
In order to make a splash this year to improve the team’s chances of going on a playoff run, Dubas, yet again, is going to have to get creative. With Tyson Barrie sent to become a free agent at the end of the season, it’s been suggested that Dubas recoup assets for the offensive-minded defender at the deadline. But, rather than dealing Barrie for prospects or picks and just hanging on to them, Dubas could recoup futures for Barrie that he ends up flipping elsewhere for an upgrade right now.
Bob McKenzie spoke on Insider Trading prior to the …

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Author: Cam Lewis / The Leafs Nation

Who’s coming up in place of Thomas Pannone?

After a rough spot start in Texas last weekend, Thomas Pannone has been optioned to Triple-A Buffalo. We don’t yet know what the corresponding roster move will be.

ROSTER MOVES:
LHP Thomas Pannone has been optioned to the @BuffaloBisons.
The corresponding move will be announced prior to tomorrow’s game.
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) May 9, 2019

Pannone cracked the team out of spring training as the Blue Jays dealt with various injuries. He ultimately filled into the role the team envisioned for Clayton Richard as the ‘pen’s versatile second lefty who was stretched out to make spot starts.
Over 20 2/3 innings across 13 outings, Pannone posted a 7.40 ERA while striking out 23 and walking 10 batters. He had some really good outings and some really bad ones. The aforementioned start in Texas was ugly, as was his other spot start in Cleveland in April. But as a reliever, Pannone was mostly solid. If you take away his two starts in which he allowed 11 runs in five innings, Pannone allowed six runs in 15 2/3 innings.
The play here, I imagine, is stretching Pannone out so he can be a starter down the road.
Given the fact the team now only has one lefty arm on the 25 …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation