Maple Leafs fall on penalties as the real Lightning step up to even the series

It was never going to be like Game 1 the whole way through, nut for 19 minutes and 57 seconds of Game 2, it looked as though the Toronto Maple Leafs had picked up where they left off.
That was until Tampa Bay Lightning defenceman Victor Hedman picked up a loose puck after a failed clearing attempt and beat Jack Campbell for a deflating end to the opening 20 minutes.
That was the first of four points Hedman recorded as the Lightning defeated the Maple Leafs 5-3 to even up their first-round series at a game apiece.
A simple power-play goal against shouldn’t have let the air out of the Leafs as badly as it did, but it was the beginning of a sequence of plays where Toronto ended up on the wrong side of things.
Andrei Vasilevskiy returned to his dominant form. The Tampa goaltender made 13 of his 31 saves in the opening period, stifling the Leafs on their two power-play chances in the frame.
Over a minute into the second period, the Maple Leafs had some sustained pressure at Tampa’s net, capped by a chance in the slot for Timothy Liljegren, but Vasilevskiy flashed the leather with a highlight-reel save to limit the damage.
Less than a minute later, Hedman recorded his second po …

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Author: David Alter / The Leafs Nation

Raptors’ Masai Ujiri has funny comment on Nick Nurse-Lakers rumor

Raptors’ Masai Ujiri has funny comment on Nick Nurse-Lakers rumor

After decades of churning through coaches, the Toronto Raptors finally struck championship gold when Masai Ujrii decided to part with Dwane Casey and hired Nick Nurse. This combination has helped Toronto overcome its postseason demons and remain a model of consistency. In need of someone that can come in and steady the ship, the Los […]
Raptors’ Masai Ujiri has funny comment on Nick Nurse-Lakers rumor – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Kevin Gausman’s elite splitter is reaching new heights of success

Through the first month of the 2022 season, starter Kevin Gausman has been worth every cent for the Toronto Blue Jays thus far. And he’s only getting better.
Over the off-season, Gausman left the west coast to sign a five-year, $110-million contract with the Blue Jays. At the time, most fans were upset the team had replaced the 2021 AL Cy Young Award winner, Robbie Ray –  who later agreed to a similar five-year, $115-million contract with the Seattle Mariners.
But early on, it’s probably safe to say Toronto made the correct decision. It likely wasn’t easy to make, although it’s certainly benefited them this season.
Making an instant impact, Gausman has excelled across his first five starts, posting a 2.27 ERA and a 0.49 FIP through 31 2/3 innings. In addition, the 31-year-old has also recorded 41 strikeouts, earning him a career-best 33.6 per cent strikeout rate. A pretty strong start to his tenure north of the border.
Though, the most impressive aspect of his performance has been what he hasn’t allowed, which are any walks or home runs. He’s one of just two pitchers to accomplish this spectacular feat through the first five starts to open a season.

Pitchers since 1903 to begin a season with 5 straight starts of 0 BB and 0 HR allowed (min. 20 IP):
Cy Young (Yes, that …

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Author: Thomas Hall / Blue Jays Nation

WATCH: Maple Leafs’ prospect Max Ellis brings a lot of value to the organization

The Toronto Marlies have been through a lot this season.
Whether it be injuries, call-ups, more injuries — they’ve had a lot of roadblocks to get around. Now, with a healthy Nick Robertson, a rookie-goal race between Bobby McMann and Alex Steeves, plus a few new prospects, the Marlies are looking to prove that they’re a good hockey club during the Calder Cup playoffs.
They’ve also added new prospect Max Ellis, and who knows what might happen with him this season and next.
Enjoy the video!

More from TheLeafsNation.com

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Kerfoot has had a more consistent role this year, but still remains the Leafs’ Swiss Army Knife by Jon Steitzer

Breaking down five of the best goals from Matthews’ historic season with the Maple Leafs by Nick Barden

POINTSBET IS LIVE IN ONTARIOPointsBet Canada has officially launched in Ontario! Get a $25 free bet just for signing up right here!

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Report from the Rock: There’s no place like home

After a road trip through hell, the Newfoundland Growlers were more than happy to get back home to the Mary Brown’s Centre in St. John’s, even though the first stretch of the February homestand would bring along a new challenge in a season full of off-ice adversity.
For the three-game series against the Reading Royals in the first weekend of February, the team played in an empty arena for the first time, with numerous key members of the team, including their head coach, either injured or in COVID-19 protocol. That combined with the sudden, heartbreaking loss of Chris “Abbo” Abbott, better known as Buddy the Puffin, was not conducive to a winning atmosphere.

The Newfoundland Growlers family mourns the heartbreaking passing of Chris Abbott.
The impact that Chris had on the community is truly immeasurable, we will deeply miss his innate ability to connect with people and make them smile. pic.twitter.com/NnbBYOkZc4
— Newfoundland Growlers (@NLGrowlers) February 1, 2022

The Growlers dropped all three games to the Royals, extending a season-long losing streak to six games. Facing adversity and coming together as a team to overcome it is a recurring theme in coach Wellwood’s post-game availabilities, which is to be expected given what this team has gone through off the ice since the start of the season.
“Over the last 60 days, bar none, the hardest 60 days I’ve ever had as a player or a coach so far,” he said after exiting COVID protocol “day after day we were getting punched down with something, which I’m actually very happy we got to go through that. I think if you look at the start of our season, you can get into the mindset that it (winning) is too easy. All of a sudden, you go through this adversity and it hardens you and brings you closer as a group.”
Ahead of a five-game series with the Maine Mariners, (four at home, one away to kick off the next road trip,) seven players returned to the lineup, and young center Ryan Chyzowski was reas …

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Author: Dylan Murphy / The Leafs Nation

With the price of rentals running high, the Leafs appear to be shopping for term

If you managed to make it through the majority of the All-Star game coverage on Saturday, you were rewarded with a couple of interesting facts regarding the state of the NHL trade market right now. The key one is that the going rate for a defenseman rental seems to be 1st round pick plus a 3rd round pick.

Elliotte Friedman on Sportsnet says teams are asking for a 1st rounder and a 3rd rounder in return for rental defensemen this trade deadline.
Basically what CBJ got for David Savard when he got traded to TB.#LeafsForever
— Joseph Zita (@josephdzita) February 5, 2022

Considering that the Leafs spent a 1st and two 4ths bringing in Nick Foligno last year (at a 1/4 his cap hit) that price should seem a little steep, with a very low chance of getting a return on the investment. This go around we’ll assume the Leafs would at least not trade on a player being rushed back from injury, and the way the season is set up any deadline acquisition should be eligible for a lot more than 10 games, but still, the idea of a should have little appeal to Leafs fans.
That’s where there is some encouraging news out of Kyle Dubas’ press availability today, and that is his preference to moving back towards acquiring players with term.

#Leafs GM Kyle Dubas says his biggest need can change between now and deadline day, says he prefers to acquire players with term but flat cap changed that the last couple of years. Based on his answer, it sounds like the Leafs will have to be meticulous about how they add. pic.twitter.com/ZYf200rZvc
— David Alter (@dal …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

‘I personally feel the most comfortable I’ve felt in an NHL locker room’: Simmonds has the Maple Leafs’ back, and they have his

Wayne Simmonds has been through a lot in his NHL career, but in Toronto, he’s as comfortable as ever.
Entering an NHL locker room is never easy. Coming in as a brand new player, you want to fit in with as many players as possible.
You don’t want to rock the boat.
On Monday, though, we witnessed how tight-knit this Maple Leafs group really is.
After the recent racist events that transpired in the last week to both Boko Imama and Jordan Subban, Maple Leafs captain, John Tavares addressed it after practice on Monday.
“Before I take any questions, I just want to say a few things just on the few racial incidents that have happened in our game over the last little while,” said Tavares before any reporter asked a question. “I think it’s really important to acknowledge the I think the recognition steps that have been taken over the last little while to improve eliminating racism in our game.
“But obviously, we have a lot of work to do with learning and discussion and understanding and how we can continue to apply that and make a difference. Just continue to make our game better and that much more inclusive, so I just thought it was important to acknowledge that today — somethin …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Raptors midseason awards: Which players have stood out?

Raptors midseason awards: Which players have stood out?

The Toronto Raptors are now halfway through the 2021-22 season. Considering all of the hoops that this team has had to jump through and all of the obstacles they have overcome this season, the fact that such a young team is competing for a postseason spot is quite impressive. The 21-20 Raptors have been buoyed […]
Raptors midseason awards: Which players have stood out? – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Raptors Game Tonight: Raptors vs Suns Odds, Starting Lineup, Injury Report, Predictions, TV Channel for Jan. 11

Raptors Game Tonight: Raptors vs Suns Odds, Starting Lineup, Injury Report, Predictions, TV Channel for Jan. 11

The Toronto Raptors have breezed through the competition so far in 2022, as they have yet to lose a game in the new year. While Fred VanVleet has been playing at an All-Star level to start the season, the latest Raptors odds are suggesting that they will finally taste defeat. Toronto will welcome Chris Paul, […]
Raptors Game Tonight: Raptors vs Suns Odds, Starting Lineup, Injury Report, Predictions, TV Channel for Jan. 11 – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

3 most unforgettable Toronto Raptors moments from 2021

3 most unforgettable Toronto Raptors moments from 2021

The Toronto Raptors have been through more than most NBA teams over the course of 2021. On top of playing a shortened season in which they were relocated to Tampa, they had to deal with the departure of Kyle Lowry and multiple outbreaks of COVID-19 on their roster and coaching staff. The Raptors might not […]
3 most unforgettable Toronto Raptors moments from 2021 – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ