How much grit does the backline have?

How much grit does the backline have?

Last week we examined how much grit the Maple Leafs had up front. A day later, Dryden Hunt was placed on waivers (went unclaimed and has since played games with the Marlies), while Pontus Holmberg and Joey Anderson were called up. Both of them made positive contributions to the forward group last week. With just over a month to go before the trade deadline, the musical chairs in the bottom 6 will continue.
As the Leafs d-core nears full health (Brodie returned from injury last game, and Victor Mete is back skating), let’s take a look at the grit (or perhaps lack thereof) the Leafs currently have compared with what they had in the playoffs last season. There are many familiar faces this season, and some have continued to develop at impressive rates.
Morgan Rielly, Mark Giordano, and TJ Brodie each played 7 games last spring against Tampa Bay, while Justin Holl played 5. Combined, the four defencemen averaged 2 hits per game. Barring any injuries or trades (Holl is the only one that could possibly move), the four veterans of the group are each firmly part of Sheldon Keefe’s top 6 and they’ll be in the lineup for game 1 of the playoffs. We shou …

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Author: Bennett Jull / The Leafs Nation

Woll gets the call, Minten continues to impress, Hirvonen heating up: Leafs Prospect Roundup

Woll gets the call, Minten continues to impress, Hirvonen heating up: Leafs Prospect Roundup

Ilya Samsonov has taken hold of the number one job in the Leafs’ crease over the last couple of weeks, starting his sixth consecutive game and earning a tidy victory over his former team on Sunday after taking over in relief of Matt Murray against Florida back on January 17th. Murray was slated to start Friday’s game against the Senators, but an ankle injury that he has been dealing with flared up in the warmup, forcing Samsonov into action at the last minute.
After both goalies were given the day off on Saturday, it was announced prior to Sunday’s game that Joseph Woll had been recalled from the Marlies on an emergency basis, signaling that Murray is unavailable for the time being. Woll missed the beginning of the season recovering from an injury of his own, but he has been lights out for the Marlies since returning to action in late November, surpassing Erik Källgren on the depth chart in the process.
Woll has been nothing short of stellar for the Marlies this season, setting the franchise record for consecutive wins when he came away victorious in each of his …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

10 Things to consider about the Leafs and the trade deadline

10 Things to consider about the Leafs and the trade deadline

We are less than five weeks from the trade deadline. It feels like we are at least halfway through the nonsense that starts around the beginning of the calendar year and so far has yielded just a Ryan Merkley/Matt Nieto trade. It’s an interesting time that never lives up to the hype that goes into it, but the trade deadline is the last barrier between Leafs fans and confronting the existential dread that is playoff time, so admittedly I try to enjoy it even knowing that it will be underwhelming.
There are a lot of quantitative elements that go into the trade deadline and throwing mass quantities of numbers at you about random players on random lottery teams is fun, but today I thought I’d just ramble on about 10 qualitative things that warrant a bit of discussion heading into the trade deadline as well.
1. If a player’s numbers say they are playing badly, trust the numbers
There is always a belief that the player that you want the Leafs to acquire who is having a down year is having that down year because they are playing on a bad team. There is one major flaw in this way of thinking and that’s the obvious, “what if the player I like i …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Joseph Woll has played his way into being next goaltender called up to Maple Leafs

Joseph Woll has played his way into being next goaltender called up to Maple Leafs

Joseph Woll last played in the NHL 419 days ago and it’s time for him to return there, again, with the Maple Leafs.
It was a strange Friday night for the team, to say the least. Matt Murray was supposed to start against Ottawa. That was until he suffered an injury in warmups, according to Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe.
“He’s been dealing with something that flared up on him tonight,” Keefe told reporters on Friday night, “so he wasn’t available to play.”
That meant Ilya Samsonov — who’s played in Toronto’s previous four games — was getting the start.
Murray remained on the bench for the entire game, though Keefe did say that he wouldn’t have been able to play had Samsonov got injured.
“We would’ve been EBUG in that situation I believe.” The head coach added.
It’s not known whether Murray will be available to play, or even be the backup for Toronto on Sunday against Washington . And when Keefe was asked if the team would have another goaltender for Saturday’s practice, he really didn’t have an answer.
“We’ll see,” Keefe said to reporters Friday night. “The Marlies are away and we’ll get a better idea of exactly where everything’s at — it obviously happened pretty quickly and right before game time. (We) haven’t had a lot of time to get organized on it, bu …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

How the Leafs can make the most of a buyers market

How the Leafs can make the most of a buyers market

I’m going to hit you with the analogy that no one asked for and it’s the tale of two Christmas lists. My eight year old’s Christmas list consisted of specific Lego sets either new or discontinued, obscure items that needed to be ordered from small online vendors that would take two months to ship, and the hottest video games of the moment. My three year old’s Christmas list consisted of three words, “dinosaurs and cars.” Thanks to some great advice from my boss who informed me that most stores start their Boxing Day Sale pricing on Christmas Eve, I felt comfortable taking my chances that most retailers would still have Dinosaurs and/or Cars available.
The purpose of that painfully dull anecdote is to contrast the behaviours of a seller’s market (my eight year old’s Christmas), and a buyer’s market (my three year old’s Christmas). Trends that can certainly emulate NHL teams at the trade deadline. And according to Elliotte Friedman on the Leafs Morning Take the NHL is very much leaning towards a buyers market, and that can have a huge benefit for the Leafs.

“Sellers are worried that they might be the person who goes home alone at the bar at 2 AM.”
– @FriedgeHNIC on potential buyers market. #NHL
Leafs Morning Take – Jan. 26
Full …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The AHL playoff format and why NHL fans should get ready to see something like it

The NHL’s current playoff format isn’t the greatest, but what if I told you there might be some change in the future?
As it stands right now, the top three teams from each of the four divisions — plus two wild card teams from each conference — make the playoffs. It’s not the most popular format out there.
It’s in fact flawed.
Having two teams such as the Maple Leafs and Lightning facing off in the first round, as exciting of a series it is, just shouldn’t happen.
Who enjoys seeing two of the NHL’s top “Stanley Cup contenders” as some might say, battle it out in the first round? You’re cutting the excitement in half after the opening series.
A lot of fans reminisce on the days when the NHL’s playoff format took the top-eight teams from each conference, having the number one team face the eighth seed and so on.
It was more fun. It made sense. It allowed for more cinderella stories that the current playoff format doesn’t.
As good as it was, I highly doubt we see it for a long time. Partly due to the NHL saying they’re not going back to it, but also because of what the AHL is currently testing out.
If you don’t already know — with the AHL being the league right below the NHL — they’re usually the first to try something before it makes it to the league above.
They did it with the hybrid icings back in 2012 and they even test …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Rosie’s back + Recapping Toronto’s beatdown of the New York Islanders: Leafs Morning Take

Rosie’s back + Recapping Toronto’s beatdown of the New York Islanders: Leafs Morning Take

Back on track.
John Tavares had one and one while Willy Nylander notched four points (two goals, two assists) as the Leafs kicked off their five game homestand with an impressive 5-2 victory over the New York Islanders.
The big story from the game was Sheldon Keefe reuniting the Tavares/Nylander and Matthews/Marner combos. Furthermore, it must be an amazing feeling for Sheldon Keefe to have two lethal duos in his back pocket at his disposal whenever the well runs dry. And that was not the first time his line juggling ignited the offence this season.
Speaking of reunions, after a weekend trip to Vegas, Jay Rosehill was back in the mix today for the Tuesday edition of Leafs Morning Take. After getting back up to speed – including a brief breakdown of Saturday night’s loss in Montreal – we recapped another impressive victory for the Maple Leafs.

“I can’t say enough about Nylander & Tavares this year, it just seems like they’re like brothers out there.”
– @Jay_D_Rosehill
Leafs Morning Take – Jan. 24 @TLNdc
Full Show: https://t.co/yuM6y85WbL@PointsBetCanada | @MontanasBBQ #LeafsForever 5 #Isles 2 pic.twitter.com/yrSvMBDKPQ
— Nick Alberga (@thegoldenmuzzy) January 24, 2023

 
Before a well-deserved nine-day break (All-Star + Bye Week), Toronto has four games left —all at home.
As per usual, we wrapped with the PointsBet Canada bet of the day. We’re looking for Vancouver to make some noise in their first game under Rick Tocchet.

.@thegoldenmuzzy & @Jay_D_Rosehill are feeling Vancouver tonight in Rick Tocchet’s debut behind the bench. 👀
💰💰💰@PointsBetCanada is live in Ontario!
Details -> https://t.co/uvEnShfFwr#ad #pointsbetcanada
Full Show📱: https://t.co/MQHdN6VNxQ pic.twitter.com/ZLL3CZ9ykP
— TheLeafsNation (@TLNdc) January 24, 2023

 
Join us at 11 AM ET on Wednesday as we preview Leafs and Rangers from Scotiabank Arena.
Don’t forget to subscribe, like, and leave us a review wherever you’re checking us out. …

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Author: Nick Alberga / The Leafs Nation

Leafs rally for commanding 5-2 win over New York Islanders: Game Highlights

Leafs rally for commanding 5-2 win over New York Islanders: Game Highlights

The Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Islanders by a score of 5-2 on Monday night, extending New York’s losing streak to five games in the process. Below are the highlights from the game…

The Islanders opened the scoring in the dying seconds of the first period. Sebastian Aho’s shot from the point was deflected past a screened Ilya Samsonov and off the post and Anders Lee was there to bury the rebound…

Anders. Lee. pic.twitter.com/KxGuLrHElF
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) January 24, 2023

The Leafs knotted the game at 1-1 early in the second period. Former Islander John Tavares dragged the puck into New York’s zone and fed William Nylander with a no-look pass that he sniped past Ilya Sorokin…

Wicked Willy 😎 pic.twitter.com/wrjkEoNfDd
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) January 24, 2023

The Islanders regained their lead just over one minute later when Anders Lee blasted a one-timer through Samsonov…

From the circle! pic.twitter.com/KbYEf3GxkK
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) January 24, 2023

After that, it was all Leafs. While on the power play, Samsonov fired an excellent breakout pass up the ice that Nylander feathered to Tavares. The former Islander captain went in on a partial break and buried a backhander past Sorokin…

Find a tendy who can do both! 😳🍎 pic.twitter.com/saOtpuhjko
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) January 24, 2023

A couple of minutes later, the Leafs grabbed their first lead of the night. Nylander took a breakout pass from Justin Holl just inside Toronto’s blueline and flipped the puck to Calle Jarnkrok, who broke in past New York’s defenders and wired a shot past Sorokin…

A casual Calle Jarnkrok = unlocked.🔓
📺: @Sportsnet ➡️ https://t.co/uEVY6yYjf7 #NHLonSN pic.twitter.com/DsW1jGip0L
— NHL (@NHL) January 24, 2023

Nylander capped off his huge performance later in the second frame with a goal that made the score 4-2. He picked off an Islanders breakout pass in New York’s zone, carried the puck up to the high slot, and fired a shot through a screened Sorokin…

It’s that guy, Will Ny The Scoring Guy! 😎 pic.twitter.com/ifQhlRjKXV
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) January 24, 2023

In the third period, Auston Matthews gave the Leafs some insurance. His 25th g …

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Author: Cam Lewis / The Leafs Nation

Up and down weekend for Knies, Abruzzese stays hot for Marlies: Leafs Prospect Roundup

Up and down weekend for Knies, Abruzzese stays hot for Marlies: Leafs Prospect Roundup

We are now just a little over a month away from the NHL’s trade deadline, and much of the talk surrounding the Leafs has been centered on how they can improve their current roster before March 3rd.
Speculation about potential trade targets naturally leads to discussion regarding exactly what the Leafs have in terms of trade assets and which ones they might be willing to move. The Leafs will almost certainly have their 2023 and 2024 first-round picks on the table, but will they will be willing to move off the organization’s top prospect in Matthew Knies if that’s what it takes to land an impact player for a crucial playoff run? What about other highly regarded young pieces like Nick Robertson, Topi Niemelä, or Fraser Minten?
What the Leafs have working in their favor is that despite a lack of high draft picks in recent years, there is depth in their prospect pool, and many of their recent picks have performed well enough to raise their stock, not only in the eyes of the Leafs but amongst other NHL organizations as well. Will other teams have interest in some of the Leafs’ middle-tier prospects like Ty Voit or Nick Moldenhauer, who are both putting toget …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

Abruzzese heating up, Rifai impressing and more: Marlies Weekly

Up and down weekend for Knies, Abruzzese stays hot for Marlies: Leafs Prospect Roundup

Meet the AHL’s hottest team at the moment: the Toronto Marlies.
Strength is definitely not a problem for a youthful team like this one as they’re currently undefeated since the calendar shifted to 2023, with eight-straight wins, tying a Marlies record.
More importantly, Toronto broke their record for most consecutive road wins in a season, now sitting at 10 after defeating Laval on Saturday.

Road Warriors 🔥👊 pic.twitter.com/KeSELj6QPR
— Toronto Marlies (@TorontoMarlies) January 21, 2023

Let’s discuss this week’s games, beginning with Wednesday’s game against Belleville, which the Marlies won 6-5 in a shootout. Toronto led for a majority of the game but the Senators didn’t give up, scoring two goals in the third period to send it to overtime, and then the shootout.
Marlies captain Logan Shaw was the only scorer in the shootout, giving the Marlies yet another win.
Friday night saw another close game between Toronto and Belleville, though the Marlies just edged the Senators out 4-3. The same occurred on Saturday afternoon in Laval as both teams played incredibly well forcing the shootout. The second for both teams this week.
Again, though, the Marlies found a way to grind it out. Adam Gaudette scored on his attempt and then Shaw, similar to Wednesday, was the player who scored the shootout-winning goal.
It’s been a fascinating season for this Marlies team and it seems like Marlies head coach Greg Moore and Marlies GM Ryan Hardy have really created something special.
“With the amount of young guys that we have, they’re doing a fantastic job of making sure that they’re mentally ready,” Shaw told Marli …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation