Another Maple Leafs Game 7: See you on the other side

Here we are. We’ve made it. Game Seven between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning.
How are you feeling?
Tonight can either be spent hugging your loved ones and people on the street as the seconds tick down to a Maple Leafs win, or it can end like the last nine elimination games have — in defeat.
The closer we get to puck drop on Saturday night, the larger the nerves get. This game won’t only be watched by Maple Leafs and Lightning fans, but every fan in across the hockey universe. This game is massive.
Every player on the Maple Leafs must be on the top of their game because the Lightning are going to come out just as hard. Tonight will be a tsunami of emotions for everyone — win or lose.
It’s the Maple Leafs’ biggest game in a very long time.
The lines
Both teams will enter Game Seven with the same lineups they had on Thursday night.
If you missed the game, or missed what the lineup looked like, here’s how the Maple Leafs’ lines shape up ahead of Saturday night’s do-or-die game.

#Leafs line rushes during morning skate May 14/22
Bunting-Matthews-Marner Mikheyev-Tavares-KerfootNylander-Kampf-EngvallSpezza-Blackwell-Kase Extra: Clifford, Simmonds, Anderson
Rielly-LyubushkinMuzzin-BrodieGiordano-HollSandin-Liljegren
Campbell KallgrenMrazek
— David Alter (@dalter) May 14, 2022

If you’re wondering what any of the Maple Leafs had to say prior to Game Seven, it’s all very encouraging. Each of the players and Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe are exc …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

The crew chief’s explanation on why Yimi Garcia was booted from Tuesday’s game makes no sense

We’ve seen our fair share of bad umpiring this season, such as the absurd strike zone against the Oakland A’s and the missed tag call last week against the Yankees, but Tuesday’s events in The Bronx absolutely take the cake.

Yimi Garcia came into the game in relief of Yusei Kikuchi in the sixth inning and allowed a game-tying home run to Giancarlo Stanton. The next guy up was Josh Donaldson, who got plunked in the back by a fastball from Garcia. The umpires had a meeting and then opted to kick Garica out of the game.

Yimi Garcia ejected for hitting Josh Donaldson in a tie game. Pete Walker also tossed.
Give us your thoughts on this one Jays fans. pic.twitter.com/l2YKexpsGs
— Tim and Friends (@timandfriends) May 11, 2022

After the game, crew chief Alfonso Marquez said the reason that Garcia was booted was because catcher Tyler Heineman and Donaldson were jawing back and forth earlier and they deemed the plunk to be intentional because of that…
“Earlier in the game, there were some words exchanged between Donaldson and Toronto’s catcher, so that definitely played into it. There were pretty strong words.
Then you have a game-tying home run and the second pitch, which we deemed intentional, which was the reason for the ejection. All that really played into it. It had nothing to do with (Donaldson’s) reaction. It had everything to do with the game situations that led up to that specific incident.
Given all the situations up to that specific moment, we just deemed it intentional. And when that happens, we have to eject and/or (give) warnings, but we felt ejection was the way to go.”
Meanwhile, the crew didn’t believe that this 97-mile-per-hour fastball from up high from Jonathan Loaisiga to Bo Bichette the following inning was intentional at all…

Blue Jays wonder why …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Breaking down the Leafs depth chart heading into the trade deadline

We’ve nearly arrived at the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline, and with the Toronto Maple Leafs still yet to make any moves this week as of the writing of this article, what better time to check in with an organizational depth chart update.
The Maple Leafs are, for the most part, in a good spot organizationally. There are some injuries spread across all three of the NHL, AHL, and ECHL levels, but nothing catastrophic. Jack Campbell and Jake Muzzin remain out in the NHL, with Auston Matthews returning from suspension in the Leafs next game.
Note that each of the Maple Leafs, Toronto Marlies, and Newfoundland Growlers depth charts are taken from their most recent games.

Beginning in the NHL, the impending return of Matthews for the Leafs will result in some very interesting potential combinations. With Wayne Simmonds currently out of the lineup, we could see a fourth line featuring Jason Spezza, Nicholas Robertson, and Ondrej Kase on Saturday if Alexander Kerfoot remains on the second line. That would be an excellent trio further down the lineup that could do some damage against weaker competition.
On defence, the closest thing to a deadline acquisition so far in Ilya Lyubushkin remains paired with Morgan Rielly. Given rumours about Toronto looking to acquire another left-handed defenceman, I wonder if we could see Lyubushkin remain with Rielly past the deadline. A trade to acquire someone like Mark Giordano would open up the possibility of reuniting him with T.J. Brodie while also allowing Jake Muzzin to play lower in the lineup upon his eventual return.
In net, Erik Kallgren has impressed through three games of NHL action. At this point, Sheldon Keefe has made it clear that whoever is stopping pucks will get to play and at the moment that is Kallgren.
Toronto Marlies
At the AHL level, the Marlies are running low on forwards. With Nick Robertson up in the NHL in addition to the Ho-Sang and Michaelis absences, the Marlies have essentially been playing every forward on the roster for the past couple of weeks.
Dmitry Ovchinnikov has arrived in Toronto and has begun practising with the Marlies, but it will likely still be a bit until we see him in-game action. Going from the MHL to the AHL is a big step up in competition, not to mention Ovchinnikov hasn’t played a game in a few weeks as well. They’ll likely look to get him acclimated in practice before we see Ovchinnikov on the ice …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

The Maple Leafs should explore the RHD rental market sooner rather than later

It feel likes a long time since we’ve seen the Leafs play. We probably forget a lot of the small little things about how they play, but one that isn’t likely to slip from the minds of too many Leafs fans is the underwhelming play of Justin Holl.
Even in the strong outing against Edmonton on December 14th, Holl seemed to get caught out of place, made inexcusably sloppy no look passes in front of his net, and generally didn’t move his feet. In the prior season the hustle of Holl was one of his calling cards that earned him the elevated top four responsibility, now partnered with Muzzin, who is also showing some age, Holl could be too big a liability for the Leafs down the stretch and into the playoffs. And before you suggest Travis Dermott as an option, he hasn’t fared much better in arguably softer minutes.

Given the complexities of bringing in a new defenseman and the need for an adjustment period prior to the playoffs, Toronto might be better off acting sooner rather than in exploring the replacement for Holl and/or Dermott, even if that decision comes with a higher …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

New Year’s resolutions for the Toronto Maple Leafs

Here we are. We’ve reached the end of the TLN roundtable series that has run throughout the past couple of weeks. And while there are still a few days left in 2021, we thought we’d close out the series with another 2022 question, and one specifically focused on the New Year. Of course that means it’s resolution time, and the question is:
What should the Leafs New Year’s resolution be? (besides win the cup or win a round, please.)
Nick Barden
Staying consistent. I think when you look at this team and what they need to do to win, it’s consistency. Obviously they have to play well, but we’ve seen that they have already throughout the season so far. If there’s anything they can do to help themselves get out of the first round, it’s that.
Joseph Zita
Play better defence and stick to their structure. December hasn’t been ideal for them (as of Dec. 12) and they are clearly not playing the same way they did in November and that is due to poor defensive structure and poor decision making.
Michael Mazzei
Fix Justin Holl or trade him
Roxanne Khasow
Reduce injuries.
Dylan …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The TLN Festivus Airing of Leafs Grievances

Happy Festivus everyone!
I realize that we’ve reached the point where 95% of the people on the internet are too young to care about specific Seinfeld episodes, but here we are, beating the Festivus schtick into the ground anyway with the traditional airing of grievances. The things we do for content.
The rules this year were they had to be Leafs related grievances, as the salary cap, department of player safety, and officiating are easy targets. And after yesterday where our roundtable was just everyone agreeing that Jack Campbell has been awesome, we thought we’d get some variety going, or at least switch it over to some Justin Holl related rage.
Joseph Zita
The team defence as a whole has been inconsistent for a while now and itâ€s honestly been nerve racking to watch at times because they’re showing shades of their former self at times during games as of late and it’s something us fans get frustrated over easily.
Michael Mazzei
Why can’t this town universally love William Nylander? What more does he have to do?
Dylan Murphy
Holl…. Engvall, I put up with a lot of your s*it, the whole refusal to …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Weighing rolling four lines vs. three lines plus specialists for the Leafs

We’ve just passed the quarter of the season mark, there is a lot of hockey left, why are you making a case for a shorter bench?
One of the better parts of the season has been what Spezza and Simmonds have done on the fourth line, why would you take that away?
These are my primary arguments for no matter what seems like the better approach in the long run, in the short term the idea of sticking with rolling four lines at 5v5 makes a lot of sense. That being said, the season is long, and eventually playoff races will heat up, and there will come a time when the Leafs need to be a bit more focused about how they deploy their players, and under Sheldon Keefe, the fourth line does still find around 10 minutes of icetime a night at 5v5.
When it comes to 5v5, the Leafs peak usage is with Auston Matthews playing 16:37 a night since the beginning of last season. Marner is the only other player averaging over 15 minutes, and regular fourth liners like Simmonds and Spezza are at the other end of the scale still playing around 9 minutes a night of 5v5. The …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

TLN Trivia: Where do these 2020/21 Leafs play this season?

Now over a month into the 2021/22 season, we’ve finally settled into the season on hand. With around 15 games played for each team across the NHL, we’ve had time to familiarize ourselves with the new faces in new places all across the league.
Or at least, so we think.
Over on NBA on TNT, they begin each season by testing Charles Barkley’s knowledge of the offseason with a little game by the name of Who He Play For? They name five players that changed teams over the summer and see if Barkley can correctly name the team that he plays for.

So let’s begin TLN Trivia this season with our own Who He Play For? Instea, d of taking random players from across the league, your task today is to correctly guess which team each departed player from the 2020/21 Toronto Maple Leafs roster now plays for this season.
There are 16 total players that played at least one game for the Leafs in 2020/21 that are no longer in the organization. Can you name where each player now currently plays?
Be sure to share your results with us on Twitter, Facebook, or in the comments below. Please note you …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

Marlies and Me: Meet promising young forward, Alex Steeves

Throughout the last few weeks, we’ve discussed the great stories of Josh Ho-Sang and Joseph Woll, but there’s a new player in town.
That man is Alex Steeves.
After suffering a shoulder injury during the Leafs’ development camp, the 21-year-old entered Marlies training camp injured. Throughout Marlies camp, Steeves was one of two players wearing a red jersey.
He stepped onto the ice last Tuesday dawning a white jersey, which meant his return was evident.
And it was.

“When I get back on the ice in competition, I want to dominate.”
—Alex Steeves
— Nick Barden (@nickbarden) October 26, 2021

Before the Marlies had Steeves in the lineup, they took on the Laval Rocket. They lost that game 5-0. Although the score suggests one thing, Toronto was able to battle and come out with positives.
It started with Alex Biega receiving a five-minute penalty and game misconduct due to a check to the head. Later in the game, they lost Teemu Kivihalme to what looked like a similar injury to Nick Robertson.
Understandably, this game was over early on.
Toronto would then play Belleville on Friday and Saturday, and with a brand new face. That’s right, Steeves was in the …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Burning Question: Will the Leafs make it beyond the first round this year?

Over the course of the past couple of weeks we’ve been running some Burning Questions posts on this site, trying to deal with some of the big questions surrounding the Leafs. The one big burning question that has always been left looming is the one that has a lot of fans willing to completely throwaway or ignore the regular season and focus entirely on the postseason, and that question is “Is this the year the Leafs finally make it out of the first round?”
We’ll start with the fact that it’s impossible to know for sure. Law of averages say that a team as good as the Leafs will eventually have something break their way instead of things going against them, and they’ll get there. I can appreciate that appeal to the math of it. The problem with math though is that it ignores the fact that it’s the Leafs we’re talking about. They’ve always been able to find new spectacular ways to have things fall apart on them. No other team blows a 4-1 lead in a game seven, no other team loses to an emergency backup goaltender that they employ, no …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation