Toronto Marlies report cards: Defence

It’s time to grade the defencemen.
One of the most exciting parts of this past season was the Marlies’ defence core. There were so many players coming in and out of the lineup with a lot having some real potential.
Similar to the forwards, there were a lot of rookie defencemen in this group — seven of the Marlies’ 15 defencemen were playing in their first year of professional hockey. Some provided a glimmer of hope to this back-end which did see a few injuries and some call-ups this season.
Like I said in the forwards article, these players will be graded mainly on NHL readiness. The closer they are to the A-grade, the more likely I think they are to play in the NHL next season.
Just to name some honourable mentions before I get started; Brennan Kapcheck, Riley McCourt, Sergei Sapego and William Villeneuve each got into a few games this season but still are a year or so away from being solidified AHL players. But for Kapcheck, he’s signed for two years with the Marlies so he’ll likely get some playing time next season.
The grades
Timothy Liljegren – 2G, 9A, 11P – A+
The 22-year-old has been …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Raptors mock draft: Raps get Arkansas wing Moses Moody

Toronto Raptors mock draft: Raps get Arkansas wing Moses Moody

Toronto Raptors mock draft time has befallen us, and the club’s status narrowly outside the top five picks at No. 7 means that they could have their pick of any number of premier athletes to build around. One player that looks like a better fit for this team with each passing day is Arkansas guard […]
Toronto Raptors mock draft: Raps get Arkansas wing Moses Moody – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Should the Toronto Raptors draft a big man based on their history?

Should the Toronto Raptors draft a big man based on their history?

The Toronto Raptors are in the lottery for the first time since 2016, when they had the New York Knicks’ pick that was acquired from the Andrea Bargnani trade. This is also their first time that they are using their lottery pick since 2012. They are no strangers to the draft lottery, as the Raptors […]
Should the Toronto Raptors draft a big man based on their history? – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Pirasanth Gunasekaram / Raptors HQ

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

Playoff Preview: The Montreal Canadiens

For the first time in over 40 years, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens are meeting in a playoff series. One of the league’s biggest rivalries finally gets a chance to show it’s true colours again after years of one team being good while the other one was not. But, how do the Leafs and Habs match up against each other? The Habs have more weaknesses than strengths, especially matched up against this Leafs team, but that doesn’t mean they can’t give the Leafs trouble and squeeze out a series win.
Let’s take a deep dive into the breakdown of this team and how it matches against the Leafs. A couple of days ago we got a bit of a look into what the Habs may look like in Game 1 (with the exception of Shea Weber), so we’ll be using these lines as our general base for this analysis.
https://twitter.com/JohnLuTSNMtl?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1393590518928523266%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Ftheleafsnation.com%2F2021%2F05%2F17%2F2021-playoff-preview-how-do-the-leafs-match-up-against-the-canadiens%2F
The Forwards
The forward group is probably the biggest difference between these two teams. The …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Playoff Preview: How do the Leafs match up against the Canadiens?

For the first time in 42 years, the Toronto Maple Leafs will face the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
This series doesn’t need an introduction so let’s get right into it.
In this playoff preview, I’ll showcase the following:

The major differences between the two teams by looking at the numbers, their lineup construction, and the systems that they implement.
The mini-battles to watch for and how both teams can be successful in each.
Series Prediction

Statistical overview:

5V5 OFFENCE

53.55 (12th)
CF/60
59.1 (3rd)

2.88 (4th)
GF/60
2.32 (18th)

2.47 (4th)
XGF/60
2.20 (11th)

9.68 (3rd)
SH%
7.50 (25th)

5V5 DEFENCE

51.44 (11th)
CA/60
49.39 (7th)

2.07 (6th)
GA/60
2.26 (13th)

2.01 (8th)
XGA/60
1.95 (5th)

SPECIAL TEAMS

20.0 (16th)
PP%
19.20 (18th)

78.50 (T22nd)
PK%
78.50 (T22nd)

The biggest difference between these two teams is their ability to turn scoring chances into goals. Toronto’s elevated shooting percentage is driven by their high-end star studded forward group. They are consistently among the league’s best in this regard in large samples. Montreal, on the other hand, has struggled to produce goals despite posting a high amount of shot attempts. One reason is due to their lack of shooting talent, another is the offensive scheme they tend to rely on (which …

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Author: Nick DeSouza / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Raptors: 2020 draft picks should give fans hope for 2021

Toronto Raptors: 2020 draft picks should give fans hope for 2021

The Toronto Raptors are missing out on the playoffs for the first time in eight years, as the combination of playing in Tampa, the COVID-19 pandemic, and a myriad of injuries made it tough for Nick Nurse and the rest of the squad to really find their footing. With Kyle Lowry and OG Anunoby missing […]
Toronto Raptors: 2020 draft picks should give fans hope for 2021 – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Alaa Alarashi / Raptors HQ

This game matters somehow

Load up the bus one last time, the Leafs are off to Winnipeg for potentially the last time in the 2021 NHL season as they look to end the season with their 7th win against the Jets.
With the division locked up and the round one opponent set in stone, tonight’s game may feel borderline meaningless (punctuated by yet another 8 p.m. start) but there still are playoff implications at play in the Leafs season finale. With their overtime loss to the Senators on Wednesday, the Leafs can no longer catch either of the top three teams (Carolina, Vegas, or President’s Trophy winning Colorado) in the standings, but fourth overall is still up for grabs, as a win tonight against the Jets would move the Leafs into a tie with the Florida for fourth where they would hold the tiebreaker. A fourth place finish would guarantee that the Leafs would avoid the winner of the West (presumably one of Colorado or Vegas) in round three, hold home ice against any team to come out of the East, leaving Carolina as the sole team to hold home ice over Toronto in any potential third round matchup.
A regulation loss meanwhile, …

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Author: Brian Reid / The Leafs Nation

Digging into Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s First Cold Stretch of the Season

For the first time this season, we have seen Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in a little bit of a rough patch.

Since hitting three home runs against Washington, Vlad has slumped to a .211/.375/.263 line with no home runs, and just a 79 wRC+. The struggles really began the series before Washington in Tampa Bay. In three games at the Trop, Vlad was just 1-for-11 with two walks and two strikeouts. Tampa had a very specific game plan on how to pitch to Vlad.

They clearly attacked Vlad up and in and down away. They did a good job at keeping the ball out of the middle of the plate where Vlad can do damage. When we last discussed Vlad I noted how he wasn’t chasing the pitch at the letters, and he still isn’t. The Rays tested him with lots of pitches up out of the zone, but Vlad wasn’t chasing. The Rays understood they can’t strike Vlad out so they had to get him out in the strike zone, and they did that by targeting the areas where Vlad does the least damage.

This is Vlad’s slugging percentage per ball in play. You can see he …

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Author: Paul Berthelot / Blue Jays Nation

Leafs look to lock up first division title in 21 years with win over Habs

2000. That is the last time the Leafs have had the best record in their division in the regular season. It wasn’t quite as decisively as the Leafs have done it this year, as they won the division with 100 points, five more than the second place team in the Northeast division, the Ottawa Senators, who they would also go on to play in the first round.
Since then, the Leafs have struggled to be as dominant in their division as that. Those early 00’s teams were consistently in the playoffs, but could never be as dominant in the regular season as the Sens and Boston Bruins. After the lockout, they were bad for 10 of the next 11 seasons, with the one team sneaking in being the overperforming 2012-13 team that finished third in their own division. After that year, the division alignments also changed, another factor that would contribute to the Leafs division title struggles, as once they finally got competitive in 2016-17, it was at the same time as the still dominant Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins teams.
Now, you could argue that their success this year comes with an asterisk. After all, they needed to move away from …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation