The TLN Three Stars: Depleted Leafs cruise by Columbus in game that was not as close as the score suggests

After a weekend of disappointment, (and a truly embarrassing display of just how fake tough the Jets are, yeah I said it,) the Leafs get back to the win column tonight in a 5-4 victory that can be best described as bittersweet in light of how it ended and the news of the Spezza suspension coming down mid-game.
So, let’s focus in on the game here, and… I’ll be honest, there was never really a point in this game where I thought the Leafs were out of it. Now, let’s take that into context: with four regulars from the roster out of the lineup (Spezza, Marner, Sandin and Dermott), this game ended up featuring the NHL debuts of two Marlies call-ups in Alex Steeves and Kristians Rubins, and even with that factoring into the game, the Leafs dominated the majority of this game in my eyes.
A quick note on Rubins: it’s almost poetic that I ended up covering tonight’s game, given that I cover the Newfoundland Growlers on a day-to-day basis and Rubins has now become the first full-time member of a Growlers team to make his NHL debut, and hopefully, the first of …

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Author: Dylan Murphy / The Leafs Nation

Spezza’s suspension adds to a growing number of key absences for the Leafs

It comes as no surprise that Spezza was going to be suspended. The “in-person” hearing was definitely made the suspension a lock, and set the bar of Players Safety targeting around 5 games or possibly more, with Spezza having the opportunity to maybe negotiate it down. With Spezza’s long career suspension free career there was certainly a possibility of that, but then again Players Safety is about as predictable as a goaltending prospect.

Toronto’s Jason Spezza has been suspended for six games for Kneeing Winnipeg’s Neal Pionk. https://t.co/DDlM0Tdzw3
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) December 8, 2021

So here we are. Jason gets six games. No Spezza until the Leafs play the Kraken on December 19th. (The things people will do to avoid an Alberta road trip.) The suspension is certainly warranted as there is little doubt that Spezza deliberately targeted Pionk, and even if the intent wasn’t to injure, he certainly wanted to make him hurt for what Pionk did to Sandin. Of course the fact that Spezza is missing more time than Pionk got for the Sandin hit is an irony not lost on Leafs fans.
Having Spezza out of the lineup at the same …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

WATCH: Nick Ritchie nets his first goal as a Leaf

The Leafs dominated the Blue Jackets in the opening frame of Tuesday night’s matchup and with just over three minutes remaining in the period, Ondrej Kase made a great play to come away with the puck on the forecheck and find Nick Ritchie out front. Ritchie made no mistake and finally picked up his first goal in Blue and White.
It has been a slow start to Ritchie’s Leafs tenure but he has played well in recent weeks, generating plenty of opportunities but failing to convert. With his goal on Tuesday night, he is now riding a four-game point streak and has six points in his last eight games. Perhaps this goal will help kickstart Ritchie’s season.

Ya just simply love to see it!#LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/6w0OOLIZY8
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) December 8, 2021

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

WATCH: Bunting goes between his legs to set up Auston Matthews

There was a worry of who would set up Auston Matthews with Mitch Marner out of the lineup. Well, the call was coming from inside the house and Michael Bunting has demonstrated he’s got the hands to set up Auston…

Casual between the legs from Bunts! #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/rzExQGUKLN
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) December 8, 2021

So the Arizona connection is effect, as the former Coyote sets up Arizona’s favourite hockey son. The fact that Bunting pulled this off shortly after taking a slashing penalty also has to feel pretty darn good.
The question remains about who will be on the right wing on that line, but there shouldn’t be any worry about Bunting and Matthews slowing down anytime soon.

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The DFO Show: Spezza deserves a five-game suspension, but refs share the blame for Jets-Leafs melee

Jason Spezza is set to have an in-person (well, face-to-face over Zoom) meeting with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety on Tuesday for his retaliatory hit on Neal Pionk.

On Tuesday’s edition of The Daily Faceoff Show, Frank Seravalli and Mike McKenna discussed the situation and how many games Spezza is likely going to be suspended for. Both agreed that he’ll get at least five games but Seravalli also made a point that this could have been avoided if the referees called the original knee by Pionk on Rasmus Sandin.
Seravalli: “We’re still dealing with the fallout from the Winnipeg Jets and Toronto Maple Leafs clash on Sunday. Neal Pionk was suspensed for two games for kneeing to satrt of the entire melee, Wayne Simmonds got fined for cross-checking, and there’s a hearing today for Jason Spezza’s retaliatory knee on Pionk. What do you see in terms of a suspension from the Department of Player Safety?
McKenna: “It isn’t going to be less than five games. That’s what it comes down to. When you meet in person, these never wind up being less than five games.
Jason Spezza is a guy who …

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Author: Cam Lewis / The Leafs Nation

News from the Rink: Leafs place Marner and Sandin on IR, Steeves and Rubīns to make NHL debuts

As the fallout from Sunday’s “gongshow” – as Auston Matthews so eloquently put it – continues, the Leafs announced a slew of roster moves on Tuesday morning ahead of their matchup with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Following a pair of losses on the weekend, a shorthanded Leafs group will be looking to get back on track against a Blue Jackets team that has lost four of their last five.

The Maple Leafs have recalled defenceman Alex Biega, defenceman Kristiāns Rubīns and forward Alex Steeves from the Toronto Marlies (AHL). Forward Joey Anderson has been loaned to the Marlies. Forward Mitch Marner & defenceman Rasmus Sandin have been added to injured reserve.
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) December 7, 2021

Most notable among Tuesday’s transactions was the news that both Mitch Marner and Rasmus Sandin were headed to injured reserve. Marner missed both games on the weekend after a collision with Jake Muzzin and despite being labeled a “game-time decision” on Saturday, it appears as though he will be sidelined for a bit longer as recovers from a shoulder injury.

Sheldon Keefe said it’s a shoulder injury for Mitch Marner. Could be out 3-4 weeks.
Got bumped by Jake Muzzin in practice and …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

TLN Holiday Gift Guide

‘Tis the season to be jolly and watch the Toronto Maple Leafs dominate in the NHL – that’s how it goes, right? With the holiday season right around the corner we decided to put together a gift guide for anyone shopping for their favourite Leafs fan or just looking to stock up on some unique NHL and Leafs inspired merch. We Leafs fans can be difficult and a little picky sometimes, so we’re hoping this helps you or inspires you in some way.
Gifts for Anyone
Toronto Maple Leafs Onesie

What a perfect way to watch a Leafs game at home! Grab this onesie and you’ll be warm and cozy all night.
 
Nylanderthal T-Shirt

How could I not plug our own merch? Come on. The best gift possible for the biggest Nylander fan in your life, I’m sure they would love this t-shirt.
 
Wood Jerseys

Wood Jerseys would be perfect for the Leafs fan that collects décor or has a Fan Cave. They bring jerseys to life and hand make jerseys with official NHL paint colours and a holographic license. Check them out!
 
DSC Hockey Shirts

DSC Hockey makes some fun and even sassy printed shirts. Grab …

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Author: Roxanne Khasow / The Leafs Nation

Sandin’s injury provides Holl one last chance to show he belongs on the Leafs’ blueline

When I sat down to write about the underwhelming year from Justin Holl on Sunday afternoon, I certainly didn’t anticipate that we could very well be looking at the end of Rasmus Sandin for the season. That certainly fell into the less than ideal category and one that runs counter to the premise of this post which about the need to move on from Justin Holl. Luckily for the purpose of not completely trashing the post and more importantly Rasmus Sandin’s health, it looks like it will only be a two to three week window that Sandin will be out. This new scenario really fits with a lot of the recent articles that about the Holl trade speculation that caution against giving up defensive depth. While the situation has changed, Holl’s performance still leaves a lot to be desired, so while I might have initially been calling for it being time to move on from Holl, instead this seems like chance to turn things around.
A few years back the Leafs took a chance on a former second round pick whose career had sent him on a path to the ECHL.
Things went well on the Marlies, …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

TLN Radio: Sandin, Pionk, Spezza, and Simmonds Drama

Episode 13 of TLN Radio is available now on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and YouTube!
Caroline Szwed is joined by Nick Barden, Kyle Cushman and Scott Maxwell to do a deep dive into the drama that happened on Sunday night against the Winnipeg Jets involving Rasmus Sandin, Neal Pionk, Jason Spezza, and Wayne Simmonds. Later in the show, the crew gets to the newly shaven Auston Matthews and touch on the speculation Josh Ho-Sang could join the Leafs soon.
As always, let us know what you think and join the conversation! Don’t forget to tweet us your questions, thoughts, and concerns to be featured in the show. Be sure to follow the show on Spotify and Apple Podcasts and subscribe to The Nation Network on YouTube for new episodes every Monday evening!
0:24 – TimBiebs review, songs of the week
8:27 – Drama versus the Jets – Neal Pionk goes knee-on-knee with Rasmus Sandin
12:04 – Jason Spezza’s retaliatory hit on Pionk
17:50 – Leafs fans defending Spezza, resemblance to the John Tavares and Corey Perry incident
26:44 – Wayne Simmonds stands up and goes a little crazy
34:33 – How long will Spezza be suspended?
36:10 – Sheldon Keefe’s response
39:30 – Summaring the chaos, final thoughts on the game
44:50 – Auston Matthews shaved and immediately …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

Rasmus Sandin is projected to only miss two to three weeks of action

During yesterdays loss to the Jets, Rasmus Sandin took an early exit after a scary collision with Neal Pionk. There were legitimate fears that Sandin’s season could be over, but Chris Johnston went on TSN Overdrive to dispel fears and reveal a positive development.

Here is what CJ had to say regarding the timeline today on OverDrivepic.twitter.com/Ihmcx1njeq
— OverDrive (@OverDrive1050) December 6, 2021

This is a relieving sight for the Leafe and their fans, especially considering Sandin had trouble getting back on his feet and returning to the bench. It could have ended much more poorly for the Swedish defensemen, but only missing less than a month of game action is better than being out for the remainder of the 2021-22 campaign.
Early in the third period, Sandin collided with Pionk via a knee-on-knee collision near the Jets crease. Sandin exited the game and did not return.

Rasmus Sandin is down.
Goes knee-on-knee with Neal Pionk pic.twitter.com/Nh1wVXSb9Y
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) December 6, 2021

Pionk was given a hearing from the NHLPS today and was recently handed a two game suspension for the collision.
Not long afterwards, the Leafs retaliated with a serious of infractions that has …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation