LISTEN: Matthews sends love to Tavares, teammates after scoring in Los Angeles

Auston Matthews loves scoring — and those who help him to score.

Moments after scoring his team’s fourth goal (and his eighth of the 2021–22 season) in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 6–2 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday, Matthews took the time to express his admiration for captain John Tavares — who recorded the primary assist on the marker — and his teammates.
Matthews played with a live microphone attached to his uniform during Wednesday’s game. The NHL on TNT broadcast shared ice-level audio of Matthews’ post-goal cheer from late in the second period in Los Angeles.
Here’s a clip of Matthews’ goal and subsequent celebration, as shared to Twitter by @TicTacTOmar:

Auston Matthews mic’d up for his goal
“I love you Johnny! I love you boys!”
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) November 25, 2021

Matthews scored at the 13:16 mark of the second period on Wednesday, with Tavares and TJ Brodie picking up the assists. Alexander Kerfoot, Pierre Engvall, Tavares, Jason Spezza, and Michael Bunting also tallied for the Leafs in the victory.
Toronto improved to 14–6–1 with the win and currently sit in second place (behind only the Florida Panthers) in the NHL’s Atlantic Division with 29 points.
Matthews, …

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Author: Mike Gould / The Leafs Nation

Owning our hockey and Leafs biases

Biases are one of those fun little things we all have, just like assholes. Unlike assholes, people rarely seem to own up to either having a bias, or stating what their personal bias is. That doesn’t seem particularly fun, especially in a sports setting when the best times are had when we are the least rational versions of ourselves.
One of the things that we thrive for here at TLN is having a number of different points of view on the Leafs, and different ways of looking at the team, with that comes a number of different hockey biases, and here’s a few of them…
Ryan Hobart
Short players. I’m always going to root them to do well. I’ve never been tall myself, so when I see a player shorter than average (like Tyler Ennis, Amy Curlew or Taylor Woods) succeeding it just brings me irrational joy. There are exceptions of course, like Brad Marchand, but it’s a pretty well established bias for me.
Scott Maxwell
My bias is definitely overlooking the aspect of toughness and leadership in the sport. Not that I don’t consider it at all, but I’d much rather have …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

What left wingers should play in the top-6?

Few things are abundantly agreeable in Leafs Nation, but one of those few is that our top two centres are Auston Matthews at one and John Tavares at two. Another almost certainly agreeable fact is that our top two right wingers are Mitch Marner at one and William Nylander at two.
With four of the top six forwards decided, it should be easy to pencil in the first and second line coming into this season, and yet, it definitely is not easy.
Today’s goal will be looking at some potential combinations for those lines by examining what the Leafs have at left wing depth and how they might fit in with those 4 core forwards previously mentioned.
Nick Robertson
The first and most fun option is Nick Robertson, the Leafs late second round selection in 2019 who obviously should have been a first round pick. Roberston so far has not had a decent run in the lineup for Toronto at the NHL level, but has 10 games under his belt so far, including 4 playoff games.
Robertson is a pure scorer at this point, whose hard working nature goes into setting up great scoring opportunities for his team. However, he’ll need to …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

Ugh, the Rays are trading for Nelson Cruz

Those fucking Rays!!!

According to Jeff Passan, the Twins are sending All-Star slugger Nelson Cruz off to Tampa Bay…

BREAKING: The Tampa Bay Rays are finalizing a deal to acquire slugger Nelson Cruz from the Minnesota Twins, sources tell ESPN.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 22, 2021

There had been rumours that the Blue Jays were kicking tires on Cruz, which was a little puzzling given the team’s crowded outfield situation and need to rotate guys through the designated hitter spot. That said, Toronto actually hasn’t been getting very good production from the DH lately, so there was some logic behind adding another elite bat to the lineup, and Cruz would arguably be the team’s best bat other than Vladdy
Cruz has kicked the piss out of the baseball this season. Through 85 games, he’s slashing a .294/.370/.537 line with 19 homers, 12 doubles, and a 35-to-63 walk-to-strikeout ratio. His 140 wRC+ ranks 20th in baseball, ahead of names like Jose Altuve and Mookie Betts.
I know he wasn’t the most ideal fit out there, but seeing the Rays get better really sucks!

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

The Blue Jays come out on top after an absolute roller coaster ride with the Orioles

Those are the Baltimore Orioles we know and love. The Blue Jays are back in the win column after a six-run rally in the ninth inning.

Things worth mentioning…
First Inning:
The game started off fun, Semien went yard and then Vlad did the same. Before the game, I bet $5 that Vlad would hit a dinger @4.50. So the extra 17 bucks is much appreciated. Thank you Vlad if you are reading this.
Before the game, I said if Manoah went 6 IP allowing less than four runs and had 7 Ks, I’d shave my head. Unfortunately, Manoah couldn’t do it, meaning Twitter will have to wait until something else happens. Manoah, bless him, didn’t have a great game. However, I have no doubt he’ll bounce back. There are positives from this start, while home runs are bad, he walked only one batter and didn’t give up a hit that didn’t leave the park. He also had 6 Ks, one off his career-high. Alek, if you are reading this, it could be the mechanics, but I assume you’ll watch the tape and throw a perfect game next outing. I have faith in you.
Manoah’s ejection:
Well, …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

An exciting announcement from The Nation Network and how it affects the Leafs (coverage)

Good news everyone, especially those of you looking for even more Leafs coverage and hockey coverage in general.
The Nation Network have asked me to be the messenger regarding the growth in NHL coverage you’ll find both on The Leafs Nation, and other network sites, but most specifically
The Nation Network will be scouring Canada looking for talented journalists they can add to to build out the site’s coverage of the league. Writers will be covering each NHL market, and for those of us seeking more Leafs coverage, this likely means you can count on Daily Face Off as well as The Leafs Nation to give you even more Leafs than you’ve already been getting from us. The site will feature some of the best writing, podcasts, and hockey video content you will find on the internet.
Many of you are already using which is the best resource for current line combinations, starting goaltenders, injury updates, and anything you could require as far as fantasy hockey goes, but over the next few months we’ll see the site completely take off from where it is today, to not only be a …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The Leafs Nation Festivus Airing of Grievances

It’s a very special day for those of us who cling to holidays created by ’90s sitcoms. Happy Festivus! A Festivus for the rest of us. Given that we’re a bunch of weak bloggers, we’ll forego the feats of strength this year and focus entirely on what we know best, and that’s airing our grievances. The NHL, Leafs, and the hockey world at large have given us plenty to work with in 2020 and we’ll get down to identifying who put the bees in our bonnet over the past 12 months.
Michael Mazzei
Around this time of year during a normal hockey season, NHL teams will be wrapping up a stretch of games before a Christmas break begins. My question is simple: why doesn’t the NHL try to schedule games on Christmas? I understand the players want to spend time with their families and they are completely justified in desiring that, but one thing I enjoy on Christmas is watching a prime-time NBA game on that same day. It would be a glorious opportunity for the league to market their players and put them on a big stage (think of the potential ratings!). Do I think …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Gone in November: Four more months until NHL free agency (but we’ll talk about it now)

This might have been one of those things that goes without saying given that all the talk has been about contracts being extended until October 31st, but Bob McKenzie has highlighted something we all assumed…

On critical dates, one we can pencil in — we are using @TSNquizmaster’s No. 2 pencil — is Free Agent Frenzy(?) on Nov. 1, 2020. We know this, for now, because 2019-20 contracts set to expire on June 30 have been extended to Oct. 31. So Nov. 1 would be Day 1 of 2020-21 contracts.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 2, 2020
Yep. It looks like NHL GMs will be making it November Rain for the 2020 crop of NHL unrestricted free agents. And for what it is worth, it will be very much a what we see is what we get group as no names will be added through amnesty buyouts…

Seeing all sorts of speculative chatter amongst fans discussing possibility of new CBA amnesty buyouts to help clubs manage flat cap. Amnesty buyouts are NOT part of agreement. They might make a GM’s life easier but wouldn’t help owners/players navigate their troubled economy.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 2, 2020
Not that amnesty or compliance buyouts …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Getting Paid? Leafs players due for signing bonuses today

It’s July 1st. Happy Canada Day to those of you who choose to celebrate it, and happy pay day to a significant number of Leafs. Or at least it was scheduled to be pay day, whether or not any cheques were sent out remains to be seen, but the expectation is that they will or according to Bob McKenzie at least no later than after the Independence Day weekend.
As per PuckPedia, there is a substantial amount of money due to 24 Leaf players and one former Leaf player today…

2020-21 Bonus
2020-21 Total Salary
Bonus as % of pay

Matthews, Auston

Marner, Mitch

Tavares, John

Nylander, William

Kapanen, Kasperi

Kerfoot, Alexander

Johnsson, Andreas

Korshkov, Yegor

Robertson, Nicholas

Der-Arguchintsev, Semyon

Barabanov, Alexander

Abramov, Mikhail

Forward Total

Muzzin, Jake

Holl, Justin

Lindgren, Jesper

Sandin, Rasmus

Duszak, Joseph

Lehtonen, Mikko

Hollowell, Mac

Král, Filip

Rubins, Kristians

Defense Total

Andersen, Frederik

Scott, Ian

Woll, Joseph

Goalie Total

Kessel, Phil

Grand Total

Not surprisingly it’s the Leafs core that stands to get paid the most today, and the entry level contract players make up the majority of players due money, and arguably they are the ones who could …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Can We All Just Have Fun This Year?

For those of you foolish enough to sink any emotional investment into the Toronto Maple Leafs, the 2018-19 season sucked. Point blank. It was garbage; a never-ending hailstorm of negativity and Oakley-clad uncles from Brampton from which you couldn’t escape even if you wanted to.
The worst part, though? You didn’t want to. You’re addicted to it, baby. We all are.
From the year’s hopeful beginning down to its alcohol-hazed end, federal law apparently barred both the Leafs and their fanbase from enjoying so much as a single, solitary moment of it. As in; not one.
John Tavares is making his long-awaited debut for his hometown team? Great! But selfish William Nylander hasn’t signed yet, so do me a favour and go get bent.
Oh, Nylander signed at the literal last second for what will, in less than 6 months (thank you, Jimmy Hayes. Or, is it Kevin? It’s Kevin, right? I dunno. They’re both not great) be a financial steal? Cool!
Now enjoy a full year in which the one half of Leafs fandom yet to grasp the definition of “pro-rated” and the other half with a spray chart on hand to judge …

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Author: Mike Stephens / The Leafs Nation