Raptors: Clutch shooting gives Toronto win over T-Wolves in old-school slugfest

Raptors: Clutch shooting gives Toronto win over T-Wolves in old-school slugfest

The Toronto Raptors were the talk of the NBA world yesterday, as they absolutely slammed Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. Needing to take home a win against a poor Minnesota Timberwolves team, a gassed Raptors team gave them their best shot on the second night of a back-to-back. Fresh off the second night of […]
Raptors: Clutch shooting gives Toronto win over T-Wolves in old-school slugfest – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Nickeem Khan / Raptors HQ

Leafs without Matthews tonight, and Thornton to miss a month

Yesterday it seemed like it was just going to be a maintenance day for Auston Matthews. He was a little sore when he took the ice for practice, left early, and rather than reshuffling the lines, Adam Brooks took his place between Jimmy Vesey and Mitch Marner. The fact that Marner hadn’t been shuffled onto either the Tavares or Kerfoot line kept me calm for the past twenty four hours. This morning it’s hitting a bit different…

Sheldon Keefe confirms Auston Matthews it OUT tonight for #Leafs vs. Oilers. Upper body soreness. Day-to-day.
Joe Thornton has a rib fracture, will miss at least a month.
— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) January 22, 2021

Now in a 56 game season there will be injuries, and rather than Matthews playing and aggravating what’s causing the soreness, taking a game or two to recover doesn’t seem like the end of the world. It would be nice to see an honest matchup between McDavid and Matthews after the boring outing on Wednesday night, but luckily we’ll get seven more opportunities this year.
It will be interesting to see what the Leafs new lines look like tonight, but my guess is we see Marner …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

All-Canadian Preview: The Montreal Canadiens are a wild-card

The Canadian Division is a sandwich.

As I said yesterday, it’s a clear bet that the Ottawa Senators wind up at the bottom of the group, and I also think it’s reasonable to assume that the Toronto Maple Leafs are the team to beat. Between them, though? That’s anyone’s guess.
The biggest wild-card of those middle five teams is the Montreal Canadiens.
What happened last season…
31-31-9 (71 points), 5th in Atlantic Division 
Goals For: 212 (18th of 31), Goals Against: 221 (23rd of 31)
10-3-2 vs Canadian opponents
2-0-0 vs CGY, 0-2-0 vs EDM, 3-0-1 vs OTT, 3-0-0 vs TOR, 1-0-1 vs VAN, 1-1-0 vs WPG
The Habs were the definition of mediocre last season.
They posted a 31-31-9 record, finished in the middle of the pack in terms of goals scored, and finished in the bottom third of the league in goals against. They had a bunch of good-not-great players produce at a good-not-great level and their star, Carey Price, wasn’t the elite goaltender they needed him to be in the regular season.
Despite being nowhere near a playoff spot when the league got paused due to COVID-19 in …

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Author: Cam Lewis / The Leafs Nation

Taking a look at who will make the Leafs

Taking a look at who will make the Leafs

The Leafs training camp official opened yesterday, and we now know the 40 players in attendance.

The 2021 squad pic.twitter.com/wUafNd8Nke
— The Leafs Nation (@TLNdc) January 3, 2021

Today is the first day the Leafs hit the ice, and while there are some interesting camp battles and roster spots up for grab. The fact that the Leafs will have a taxi squad in addition to their core roster means that most of these players will be sticking with the Leafs for the season. Given that the Leafs can have six players on the taxi squad, we’ll assume they will. And given that the Leafs can afford to have can either a 21 or 22 player roster (most likely 21), we’ll assume that as well and 27 of these 40 players won’t be heading to the Marlies.
Here’s the situation by position.
Forwards (23 invites)
Locks: Matthews, Tavares, Marner, Nylander, Hyman, Kerfoot, Thornton, Simmonds, Mikheyev, Spezza
The locks are essentially the core forwards mixed in with the veterans who took steep discounts in order to play for the Leafs that it would be cruel to leave out in the cold. Mikheyev and Kerfoot are decidedly NHL players even if they don’t 100% fit the …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Charlie Montoyo is probably the Blue Jays’ best bet to win a major award this year

The Gold Glove finalists were released yesterday so it’s time to start thinking about Awards Season.

Lourdes Gurriel was the only Blue Jay nominated for a Gold Glove, which isn’t particularly surprising given the fact that the team wasn’t exactly, ya know, good on the defensive side of the game.
As I mentioned yesterday, Gurriel is a bit of a headscratcher for a Gold Glove but so are many, many other selections. Managers had to vote on the top fielders in their respective leagues even though they didn’t get to see two-thirds of the teams this season. As a result, a player like Gurriel who makes highlight-reel grabs and guns guys out at home will warrant attention.
Will Gurriel win the Gold Glove? Probably not. Kyle Tucker has the best defensive metrics of the three while Alex Gordon is the nice, easy, lazy choice because he’s already won seven times. I imagine a few managers just said fuck it and made Gordon their pick because of his history.
Anyways, are there any other Blue Jays who could take home a major award this season? For major awards, I’m talking Most Valuable Player, Rookie of …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Artur Akhtyamov… Better than Yaroslav Askarov?

In the 2020 NHL Entry draft completed yesterday, a healthy number of goalies were selected, with 20 of the 216 players being netminders. That’s 9.2% percent of the selections, while they represent 10% of your dressed roster in each NHL game. The Leafs chose one of those 20, in Artur Akhtyamov, a Russian comrade to the only goalie selected in the first round, Yaroslav Askarov.
It’s healthy to pose the question whether Akhtyamov could surprise and end up better than Askarov in the end. After all, goalies are voodoo, and plenty of other highly drafted goalies have not worked out as expected, our own Jack Campbell being near the top of that list. However, it’d be ridiculous to say, with any element of credibility, that Akhtyamov will be better than Askarov.

still can’t believe Nashville reached for Askarov at 11 when Artur Akhtyamov was available
— BOOby cappucino (@bobbycappucino) October 8, 2020

Whoops! (I did not “eat the onion” as they say, I know Bobby is being facetious. He’s the best at it).
All kidding aside, if it were possible to know that, obviously the draft positions would look a lot different. That doesn’t take the possibility out of the question though.
In Askarov …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

Both Robbie Ray and Taijuan Walker “love it in Toronto [Buffalo???]”

I mentioned yesterday how the Blue Jays’ largest, most glaring issue this off-season is the team’s starting pitching depth.

Hyun Jin Ryu is the team’s ace but there isn’t much, if any, certainty after that. And, to be honest, Ryu himself isn’t even all that much of a certainty given his history with injuries. Nate Pearson will hopefully take a step forward, Tanner Roark will ideally not be totally useless, and somebody from the group of T.J. Zeuch, Tom Hatch, Anthony Kay, Trent Thornton, and Julian Merryweather will ideally grab a starting spot and run with it.
That’s a lot of ideally and not a lot of that will absolutely happen. So, long story short, the Blue Jays need to find some starting pitching depth this off-season.
Maybe some of those starters are already here?
According to Pete Walker, Taijuan Walker and Robbie Ray, two of Toronto’s trade deadline additions who are set to hit free agency, both loved it in Toronto.

Pete Walker: Robbie loves it in Toronto and Taijuan loves it in Toronto. You hope that helps moving forward in potential negotiations. #BlueJays #BaseballCentral
— Alex Seixeiro (@alexfan590) October 6, 2020

I assume this …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

A sixth-inning meltdown costs the Blue Jays a winnable game

I wrote yesterday that it’s critical for the Blue Jays to do well during this stretch of games against bad teams over the next couple of weeks because the schedule gets much more difficult in September.

On Tuesday, the Jays had a prime chance to start their series with the Red Sox off on a positive note. Boston had a struggling rookie starter on the mound but Toronto failed to capitalize, leading to an incredibly frustrating loss.
Things worth mentioning…

Things started off really well as the Jays kicked Kyle Hart around for four runs in the first inning. It looked like it was going to be a laugher in the second inning when the Jays loaded the bases with just one out but a Vlad Jr. double play ended the inning and cost the team a huge inning. That would eventually come back to haunt them because as bad as Boston has been this year, they can still hit.
Before I get into the meltdown, I’ll mention the infuriating strike zone last night. Hart was all over the grid, but got the benefit of the doubt from the home plate umpire, who called strikes …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

How does Daniel Vogelbach fit into the Blue Jays’ plans?

The Blue Jays made a trade yesterday, though it wasn’t the one anybody expected.

While all the talk had been about how the team needed to acquire some starting pitching depth, the Jays went out and acquired slugger Daniel Vogelbach from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for cash considerations.
Vogelbach, a lefty hitter who spends his time as a first baseman and designated hitter, had what appeared to be a breakout season in Seattle last year. He slashed a .208/.341/.439 line with 30 homers, earning him a nod to the American League All-Star team.
It was a tale of two seasons for Vogelbach last year, though. He carried a .883 OPS into the All-Star game and then went completely cold. From the beginning of August until the end of the season, Vogelbach slashed a paltry .143/.283/.278 line with just five homers over 159 plate appearances.
And then we have this season, which has been a complete disaster for the big slugger. Vogelbach reportedly showed up to Summer Camp 20 pounds heavier than he was in spring training. Over 18 games in 2020, he slashed a .094/.250/.226 line, ultimately resulting in him getting designated for assignment.
The one thing Vogelbach does have going for him is a good …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Meet the Bubble Boyz

As reported yesterday, the Leafs have made the necessary cuts to compile with entrance to the Toronto bubble. 

Kivihalme, Hollowell, Korshkov, Agostino, Gaudet, Brooks also participated in camp #Leafs
— Terry Koshan (@koshtorontosun) July 25, 2020

So let’s get the biggest takeaways out the way early here.

The Leafs have hope that Liljegren and Johnsson will be ready at some point, and while even if it’s not immediately, both are seen as better alternatives than say, Kivihalme or Adam Brooks.
Nick Robertson made the team! As he should have. He was great in camp, and has earned a chance to at least show what he can do in the exhibition game. It’s also a huge benefit for guys like Robertson, Woll, Liljegren, and Sandin to be around the playoffs even if they aren’t playing.
The Adam Brooks scratch is an interesting one, as there seems to be a benefit to carrying capable centers to pitch in. Of course there are plenty of players who can move from the wing to center in that group as well, so Brooks probably isn’t much of an issue and the only real surprise for who …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation