Revitalizing the Leafs-Sens Ontarian rivalry, one upset at a time

In the first Toronto versus Ottawa matchup of this rivalry hotbed, all Canadian division matchup season, we saw a frustrating battle against a pesky Senators team that is aiming to prove everyone they’re not going to lie down easily this season.
After the Leafs got out to a good start, pressuring the Senators well, they were able to capitalize on this incredible skill play from Zach Hyman to get on the board first:

Zach Hyman goes baseball mode! pic.twitter.com/nDSllmsFTi
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 16, 2021

The Senators were quick to respond, though, as Toronto went down two players short in a long 5-on-3 opportunity for Ottawa that they didn’t need long to make the most of:

Thomas Chabot ties it on the 5-on-3 pic.twitter.com/JrWIsTUI9f
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 16, 2021

Appearing to not be willing to let the Senators embarass them, Kerfoot takes this 200-IQ shot to put the Leafs back on top in this contest:

Kerfoot delivers a dart #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/xG4Zt5jeO3
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) January 16, 2021

The lead didn’t last long for Toronto though as the third-best NHL Tkachuk is able to tip a Nikita Zaitsev shot past Andersen to …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

Leafs waive five players

We knew this was coming. In fact, I wrote earlier today about how it was coming. That being said, we are now playing the waiting game to see if any of them are claimed.

Kenny Agostino, Travis Boyd, Adam Brooks, Martin Marincin and Calle Rosen have been placed on waivers by Toronto.
Aaron Dell, notably, was not. So the #leafs are still carrying three goalies on the active roster.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) January 11, 2021

Let’s start with who wasn’t waived, and that was Aaron Dell. Not waiving Dell was absolutely necessary at this time, given that both New Jersey and Washington could use a goaltender, and let’s face it, Dell could be a starter in Edmonton as well, so he was going to get a ton of interest. Hopefully teams figure out their goaltending situations soon, and Dell can safely be moved to the Taxi Squad in the near future, giving the Leafs a bit more flexibility with their players.
Boyd and Brooks are both slated for the Leafs main roster or Taxi Squad, and the fact that they are waived pretty much guarantees that it is the taxi squad where they are landing. There is some risk …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Leafs by the Numbers: Morgan Rielly

This is the year. No Hainsey. No Ceci. No Zaitsev. No Hunwick. No Polak. It’s Brodie time for Morgan Rielly. A real top pairing partner.
If we look back at the defensemen that Morgan Rielly has played with the most over the past three years, in order it’s been Ron Hainsey, and Cody Ceci as his most consistent partners, and outside of Jake Gardiner there hasn’t really been someone we’ve seen Rielly with that is considered good. That’s terrifying for anyone, let alone the defenseman that you consider the best in your organization.
That leads us to Morgan Rielly’s number. Rielly’s number is 517. Rielly has played 517 games for the Leafs, most of those games as the top defenseman, a role that many will still consider him to be occupying even though his supporting cast of Jake Muzzin and T.J. Brodie is the best he’s ever had.
While there is reasons for optimism around the defense being either good or adequate for the first time in a number of years, there is still a lot to consider on the blueline, and one of those things is the part where we come to …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Staturday Weekly Column #6: Projecting the North Standings in 2021, Pt. 2

Last week for this Staturday column, I took a look at two analytical models designed to simulate the results of an NHL game. Those models were then run through for the 2021 regular season to see what it spits out. These models came from our former contributor Dom Luszczyszyn at The Athletic, and from the website Moneypuck.com.
Meanwhile, two more models have been released and are ripe for the picking. These two come from Micah Blake McCurdy at hockeyviz.com, a site we covered in Column #2 about the more interesting analytics resources available in the public sphere, and the other comes from Sean Tierney, another fantastic viz generator and former contributor at EditorInLeaf, who now runs the site ChartingHockey.ca, and is the Director of Analytics for the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs. Both sites are behind partial paywalls, so that you have to subscribe on Patreon to access the really fun stuff, but in this case the previews are not paywalled.
Starting with McCurdy’s model, here is what he has to say about how it works:
I simulated the 2020-2021 NHL regular season a million times to estimate what is likely to happen. (I used a computer to help …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Raptors: Why being Bad might not be so Bad

Toronto Raptors: Why being Bad might not be so Bad

This might not be the worst season for the Toronto Raptors to be bad. The 2021 NBA draft is loaded with talent and the Raptors might have to start asking themselves some questions. With our hopes of contention slipping to hopes of a playoff berth and now leaning towards…what?  Being better than the Cavaliers?  The […]
Toronto Raptors: Why being Bad might not be so Bad – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Avishai Sol / Raptors HQ

Ken Rosenthal gives updates on Francisco Lindor, Tomoyuki Sugano, and Jake Odorizzi

If Jon Morosi’s comments bummed you out, maybe this series of updates from Ken Rosenthal over at The Athletic will make you feel a little bit better about the Blue Jays’ off-season. Well, one of these updates might.

The first thing up is Cleveland’s pursuit of trading away their best player, Francisco Lindor.
Lindor, of course, has been a major name linked to the Blue Jays all off-season and even before that. The All-Star shortstop is set to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2021 season and there’s absolutely zero doubt that Cleveland isn’t going to re-sign him.
There’s also an obvious connection between Lindor and the Blue Jays, as Mark Shapiro was in Cleveland when he was drafted with the No. 8 overall draft pick back in 2011. Lindor himself has even said that he would be interested in being a Blue Jay. So, all in all, despite the fact the Jays already have Bo Bichette at short, this seems like a match.
Anyway, Rosenthal reports today that Cleveland is having a hell of a time finding the right trade for their star player. He says that a combination of fewer teams than usual being interested …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Toronto Raptors’ Slow Start Brings Tough Questions into Focus

Toronto Raptors’ Slow Start Brings Tough Questions into Focus

A slide in the improved Eastern Conference was expected this season for the Toronto Raptors, but a disastrous start that has them near the Conference basement is now prompting some uncomfortable questions about the state of the franchise. Major problems have arisen for the Toronto Raptors in the midst of their bumbling 1-5 start, and […]
Toronto Raptors’ Slow Start Brings Tough Questions into Focus – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Ben Fisher / Raptors HQ

MLB.com has the Blue Jays ranked No. 9 on their first Power Rankings of the year

Virtually nothing has happened this winter (outside of San Diego) and we have no idea what a lot of teams are going to look like this season, but that doesn’t stop the Content Wheel from spinning.

Over at MLB dot com, the first Power Rankings of the year got released, and they seem to be buying into the Blue Jays’ breakout season.
The L.A. Dodgers, the reigning World Series champions, are unsurprisingly ranked No. 1 with the Padres, fresh off of acquiring Yu Darvish and Blake Snell, right behind them at No. 2. The Yankees are at No. 3 despite not knowing whether or not DJ LeMahieu will be back with the team this season.
After the Braves, Twins, White Sox, and Athletics, we have the two wild cards, the Mets and the Blue Jays, who have been named as possibilities for every single free agent this winter. Either of these teams could end up higher on the list depending on where the likes of George Springer and J.T. Realmuto ultimately end up.
Finally, MLB has the Tampa Bay Rays, who finished first in the American League last season, as the No. 10 team in baseball after they traded away their …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

The World Junior Tournament doesn’t really need fixing, but here’s one idea how to fix it

I think this year the World Juniors have fallen victim to being the only game in town and having an audience that wants the most exciting hockey they’ve ever seen at time when we’re feeling deprived.
The issue with the tournament seems entirely focused around the blowout victories, and lopsided matchups that go along with having teams like Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and for that matter Slovakia in the mix with the bigger six of Canada, United States, Russia, Czech Republic, Sweden, and Finland. Outcomes seem predetermined for half the games in the tournament, but it’s always been that way. The run up scores are the result of goal differential playing a role in playoff seeding, and seeding for future tournaments. It’s always made sense, it’s always been accepted, and it was something viewers previously either enjoyed or would simply change the channel on.
Of course this is 2020, and we’re going to react poorly to everything we can, and the simple joys of watching 20 year old Austrians get pounded into the earth invokes more criticism.
Fair enough.
That is ignoring that the Austrians want to be there. They want to play the best of the …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Leafs by the Numbers: TJ Brodie

TJ Brodie was arguably the Leafs biggest addition this offseason, at least as far as on-ice value goes, as his signing helps the Leafs round out their deepest blueline in years, maybe even decades. Brodie was the one player that I really wanted the Leafs to go after, considering that he was the best mix of being a blueliner capable of playing well at both ends of the ice and manning a top pair, and actually being an affordable option in the Leafs current cap climate (sorry Pietrangelo).
It’s likely that Brodie plays on the top pair with Morgan Rielly, at least to start the season, and while Rielly is no Mark Giordano, Brodie being the best partner he’s ever played with could mean we might see an improvement in Rielly’s play as well.
Of course, that also brings up probably the biggest concern of TJ Brodie’s game, and that’s that he has shown to be codependent on playing with Giordano to play well. Put the two together and they’re a force to be reckoned with, take them apart and Brodie struggled a bit more.
And with a 4 year deal with a $5 million AAV …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation