Leafs’ Latest: Tavares returns to Long Island and Dahlström makes his debut

The Maple Leafs will play the final game of their New York trip tonight against the New York Islanders at UBS Arena.
Speaking of UBS Arena, Toronto was the second team to play the Islanders in their new building. Joseph Woll was in net that night and didn’t allow a single goal for his first-career NHL shutout.
Ever since then, it’s been downhill for the Islanders, who sit second last in the Metropolitan Division. As of late, though, the team has turned it around winning seven of their last nine games.
A big reason for that is the play of their two goaltenders, Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov. The two netminders have put together a combined .925 save percentage this season.
Two players that have been good since the Islanders’ hot streak have been Josh Bailey and Matthew Barzal. Both players are averaging a point-per-game since December 16th.
It’s not known who’ll start tonight for New York, but it’s projected to be Varlamov. The Islanders are entering the second-half of a back-to-back after defeating the Arizona Coyotes 4-0. Sorokin played in that game, which is why Varlamov is the projected starter for Saturday.
Maple Leafs lineup on Saturday night
With only an optional morning skate in New York, we won’t have a full look at lines. However, I don’t believe the lineu …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Alex Kerfoot’s offense is something to behold this year

Tonight, since the Maple Leafs will take on the Colorado Avalanche, it feels prudent to take a deep dive into the former Avalanche, Alexander Kerfoot. We’re not here to rehash the debate on whether the trade that brought Kerfoot here was a good one. That’s a tired debate, a dead horse, and it hinges too much on how much you value one season of Tyson Barrie.
Instead, we’re going to talk about Alex Kerfoot outside of that trade, and not in comparison with Nazem Kadri, for once. Or at least, we’re going to try to.
His season this year so far has been a good one and it deserves highlighting.
In terms of production, Kerfoot has been the best forward on the team outside of the core four, with 21 points in all situations. His line with John Tavares and William Nylander has been incredible overall, as well, with those three players leading the team in even strength points, as shown in the table from QuantHockey below.

But, looking a bit deeper into that, the below table from Evolving Hockey shows that William Nylander has 0 secondary assists at evens; all 21 of his even strength points this season are primary points. That’s somewhat incredible. He is either the primary passer or the scorer for every goal that that line has scored at even strength.

But, this isn’t another Nylander love fest, as much as I could write on that subject. On that line, Tavares and Kerfoot are each more balanced, with 4-6-7-20 and 8-7-6-24 stat lines at even strength.
This is Staturday, so we’re going to go further than production to see just what Kerfoot’s up to this year. One tool we have is the Environment Distiller tool from HockeyViz. For a look at how these and other fancy stats work, check out my advanced stats primer Part 2.

We can see above that they have been really strong the offensive side of the puck. They have created 32% more than league average expected goals, which is fantastic …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

A Maple Leafs game worth waiting half a month for

Last time we saw the Leafs play, we had a will they won’t they be able to play situation in Edmonton. Thankfully they played, played well, and shortly there after everything went to shit with players in COVID protocol and games postponed. Here we are 18 nights later and finally we had hockey. And hockey you want to see as a Leafs fan.
When a Jack Campbell shutout is doesn’t standout as significant in a 6-0 win, things are going good. The fact that not all of the 3 point scorers, or multi-goal scorers can make our three stars listing is encourage. The Leafs did pretty darn well. Still, if we’re going to dump some cold water on this, I guess it’s reasonable to point out that they were playing against Matt Murray, a goaltender who’s best days are well behind him, and a depleted Ottawa Senators lineup that probably wouldn’t look much more impressive if fully healthy. Still, it’s fun to get a win in what was a pretty close to flawless outing.
Here are your three stars…
3rd Star- William Nylander
It pains me to make Willie the third star, but in reality …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

3 worthwhile New Year’s Resolutions for the Toronto Raptors

3 worthwhile New Year’s Resolutions for the Toronto Raptors

As we hurdle towards 2022, the Toronto Raptors will be more than happy to throw 2021 in the garbage. Outside of a few very memorable moments, the Raptors were shackled by multiple COVID-19 outbreaks and excommunicated from the contender tier after a substandard season. While they have started this season off in volatile fashion, as […]
3 worthwhile New Year’s Resolutions for the Toronto Raptors – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Our favourite Leafs presents

Our favourite Leafs presents

On this the day when a good number of us will be receiving something Leafy from underneath our tree, we thought it would be fun to look back and reflect on some of our favourite Leafs presents we’ve received. Be sure to tell us about your Leafs present haul in the comment section or @ us on twitter.
Nick Barden
A Martin Marincin jersey, even though I bought it. I thank Leafs Twitter for making me buy it. (Editor’s note: Way to stay on brand.)
Joseph Zita
I can’t think of anything too special off the top of my head but I’ve received tickets for the Maple Leafs years ago for Christmas and that was pretty nice. I ended up on TV that game too and have that picture in a tiny frame in my house.
Michael Mazzei
Got a signed puck from James Reimer on my birthday while at a game a few years ago.
Roxanne Khasow
No one’s ever bought me a Leafs present, gladly taking offers.
Dylan Murphy
Definitely the Matthews jersey I received for Christmas during his rookie season. It was the first authentic Leafs jersey I’ve ever owned and marked …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Raptors should look to acquire Jalen Smith amid trade interest

Raptors should look to acquire Jalen Smith amid trade interest

The Toronto Raptors will likely not be stagnant leading up to the NBA trade deadline, as Masai Ujiri should look to add either some backcourt scoring off of the bench or a taller center that can provide depth inside. He could check one of those boxes by calling up the Phoenix Suns and inquiring about […]
Raptors should look to acquire Jalen Smith amid trade interest – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Pros and cons of Raptors trading for Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis

Pros and cons of Raptors trading for Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis

The Toronto Raptors will likely pursue every avenue to improve their frontcourt depth at the trade deadline, as they have been losing some games due to their poor play on the glass. The Indiana Pacers may have just dropped a huge holiday present right in Masai Ujiri’s lap due to their desire to potentially move […]
Pros and cons of Raptors trading for Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Robbie Ray should win the Cy Young by a wide margin

Do you want a bold take?

Robbie Ray will definitely win the American Cy Young award. In fact, despite this being a two-horse race between Robbie Ray and the New York Yankees’ Gerrit Cole, the stats tell us that Cole shouldn’t even come close.
The comparison:
Robbie Ray had a fantastic season. In 193.1 innings pitched, he had an ERA of 2.84 and a FIP of 3.69, nice. He also had a K/9 of 11.54 and a K% of 32.1%, meaning he struck out nearly a third of the batters he faced. Robbie Ray has always had the potential to be a Cy Young winning pitcher (look at 2017), but what has held him back until this season was his astronomical BB/9.
Ray had a great K/9 of 11.1 up until this season, but his 4.3 BB/9 really hindered his ability from solidifying himself in the Cy Young race, minus his All-Star season in 2017. In 2020, he finished with a BB/9 of 7.84 and before arriving to the Blue Jays at the trade deadline, that BB/9 was an astronomical 9.0 with Arizona.
This changed in 2021 as he posted a BB/9 of 2.47, by far the lowest in his career.
So what about the other horse in this race, Gerrit Cole? Well …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Burning Question: Has Sheldon Keefe proven enough to be the right head coach for the Leafs?

When the 2021-22 season gets underway, it will be Sheldon Keefe’s first full season as the head coach of the Leafs. To say Sheldon Keefe’s tenure as the head coach of the Leafs has been eventful would be a gross understatement since no coach has been through as much in a short window tribulation as he has.
He arrived on the scene in November 2019 to a team that was in complete disarray from wanting nothing to do with Mike Babcock and loud whispers of how he treated his players behind closed doors. The Leafs appeared to become a completely different team almost overnight and went on a run of sustained success heading into the new year, but stagnation resulted in some middling results and an amusing game of hot potato with the Panthers over who wanted the third spot in the Atlantic Division. Then that game involving a Zambini driver happened which was soon followed by a global pandemic that shut down the season for five months. Once play resumed with the playoffs, the Leafs did their annual tradition of falling out in the first round (sorry, the “play-in round”) to the Blue Jackets in five games.
Then …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

Raptors: Does Yuta Watanabe have an inside track on a roster spot?

Raptors: Does Yuta Watanabe have an inside track on a roster spot?

In a few days, the Toronto Raptors will begin training camp, with their first preseason game against the Philadelphia 76ers coming up on October 4. A new era of basketball starts in Toronto with young stars like Scottie Barnes, Precious Achiuwa, Yuta Watanabe, and Gary Trent trying to make their mark in the game as […]
Raptors: Does Yuta Watanabe have an inside track on a roster spot? – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Jason Mills / Raptors HQ