The Leafs aren’t in cap hell, but some creativity is still required if they want to improve

The phrase thrown around a lot is “run it back.” That’s not an entirely bad idea given the success the Leafs had in the regular season, and the first round was not the physical mismatch of past postseasons. You could probably play that Lightning and Leafs series 100 times and not be surprised to have both teams walk away with 50 wins. The Leafs weren’t bad and there isn’t a need for a complete overhaul.
Running it back becomes a fantasy versus reality when you look at the cap situation. Of the 23 roster regulars at the end of the season, 10 of the players need new contracts. Some players like Jason Spezza, Colin Blackwell, and Ondrej Kase aren’t going to break the bank. Others like Ilya Lyubushkin or arguably the three previously mentioned players are ones that you might be comfortable seeing the Leafs move on from, and in reality, the Leafs are going to find a way of unloading Petr Mrazek’s contract, we just don’t know how yet and a buyout keeps a bit of extra money hitting the cap, not to mention the fact that it opens up another pricier position to fill because it’s doubtful that even “Run it back” e …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

BJN Radio – Ep. 75: Ranting about the umps, ranting about the bats, ranting about Yankee Stadium, and more!

Take me back to April! May has been awful!!!

After not dropping a single series in April, the Blue Jays have now dropped back-to-back-to-back series in May, as they were swept in a little two-game set in New York.
In this episode of BJN Radio, we talked about the Bad Times In The Bronx, including Yimi Garcia inexplicably getting tossed after plunking Josh Donaldson in the first game, Jordan Romano’s implosion in the ninth, and the overarching struggles of the bats to come up with clutch hits. We also fielded comments from the audience in which listeners sent us their biggest reasons for concern about this team and we replied with whether or not we’re also worried about said things.
In order to not be entirely doom and gloom, we talked about some good stuff, such as Bo Bichette possibly heating up at the plate and, randomly, Kevin Gausman being great. Finally, we looked ahead to the series in Tampa Bay, the last place a struggling team wants to be.
You can listen to the episode here…

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Bluelines: The last non-elimination game of the series

The Leafs are back home, and thankfully the final minutes of Game Four provided a lot of hope for their return. They aren’t the team that was getting shelled 5-0. They are now the team that rallied to 5-2 and picked up another in between a pair of empty net goals. It’s progress, but another reminder that Tampa is not a team that will let up.
The return home means the Leafs are the favourite again
The Leafs Moneyline tonight is -131, with the Lightning at +110. Still putting both teams fairly close, as they should be. The Leafs going back to having the last line change should hopefully maximize what the Leafs can get out of the Kampf line, and have Brodie and Muzzin on the ice at the right times.
Believing in John Tavares
There’s something to be said for home ice, and ideally, the Leafs take advantage of it by having the Lightning match to the Matthews line, the Kampf line matching to the Stamkos line, and freeing up John Tavares to play against some bottom-six competition with a pair of hot hands in Mikheyev and Kerfoot. The challenge might be establishing a cycle without William Nylander, but if this group can set up, Tavares has a good chance for a down low reward. A goal from J …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Maple Leafs vs. Lightning: The goaltending factor

Leafs Nation has been going back and forth over the last few weeks about the pros and cons of playing the Tampa Bay Lightning or Boston Bruins in the first round of the NHL playoffs, but the one area where you could say the Lightning look scarier than the Bruins, even if the numbers from this season don’t fully agree, is in between the pipes.
Now that we know the Leafs will be playing the Lightning, let’s compare their starting goaltending situation versus the Leafs.
Tampa Bay – Andrei Vasileskiy
By his exemplary standards, Andrei Vasilevskiy had a slightly-down year in 2021-22, but one which would still be considered above average among his peers. Vasilevskiy finished the year with the eleventh-best save percentage (0.916) and sixth-best goals saved above expectation per 60 (+0.28) in all situations among goaltenders with at least 2000 minutes played.
Most goaltenders would trade their soul for these numbers, but they were actually down from his 0.924 save percentage and +0.31 GSAx/60 last season: results which garnered him second place in Vezina Trophy voting. Vasilevskiy followed up his formidable regular season campaign in 2020-21 by posting an insane 0.937 save percentage in the playoffs, guiding the Lightning to their second-straight Stanley Cup and earning himself the Conn Smythe trophy …

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Author: Mark Norman / The Leafs Nation

Jordan Groshans played for Low-A Dunedin on Thursday and is expected to join Triple-A Buffalo next week

One of the Toronto Blue Jays’ top prospects is back on the field.

Jordan Groshans joined the Low-A Dunedin Blue Jays for a rehab assignment on Thursday and, in his first regular-season game of 2022, went 1-for-3 with a double and a walk. Here’s a video of Groshan’s double from Geoff Pontes of Baseball America…

Jordan Groshans the Blue Jays #4 prospect was on a rehab assignment last night in Dunedin. Here’s a double he hit to the wall w/ an exit velocity of 102.9 mph. #NextLevel pic.twitter.com/z7xXeUpw7N
— Geoff Pontes (@GeoffPontesBA) April 22, 2022

Groshans made a few appearances for the Blue Jays in spring training, going 1-for-7 with a double over four games, but suffered an injury that ultimately delayed the start of his season.
Injuries have been an issue for Groshans ever since the Blue Jays selected him with the No. 12 overall pick in the 2018 draft.
He was dominating Low-A with the Lansing Lugnuts in his first full professional season in 2019 but suffered a foot injury that would wind up ending his season in May. After spending 2020 at the team’s Alternate Training Site, Groshans’ 2021 season was limited to 75 games as he dealt with a back issue in May and he also wound up missing all but one game in September.
While the sample size is small because of these injuries, Groshans has hit very well in the minors. Last season, he slashed a .291/.367/.450 line with Double-A New Hampshire with seven homers and 23 doubles.
According to Shi Davidi, the plan for Groshans is to have what’s essentially a rehab assignm …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Raptors writers roundtable: Playoff predictions for Raptors-76ers

Raptors writers roundtable: Playoff predictions for Raptors-76ers

The Toronto Raptors have made it back to the postseason by winning 48 games. This earned them the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference and an opportunity to renew their rivalry with Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers. This might be the most even first-round series in this current crop. Nick Nurse knows that […]
Raptors writers roundtable: Playoff predictions for Raptors-76ers – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

3 reasons Nick Nurse joining Lakers make no sense for both teams

3 reasons Nick Nurse joining Lakers make no sense for both teams

The Toronto Raptors are back in the postseason thanks to the brilliant schematic exploits of head coach Nick Nurse. While Nurse has helped a motley crew of young players and positionless puzzle pieces fit together, teams like the Los Angeles Lakers are turning the page and starting a new coaching era. Frank Vogel was shown […]
3 reasons Nick Nurse joining Lakers make no sense for both teams – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

3 pivotal Masai Ujiri moves that made the Raptors a playoff team

3 pivotal Masai Ujiri moves that made the Raptors a playoff team

The Toronto Raptors are back in the postseason after one year in the lottery, as Masai Ujiri helped construct a winner from the ashes of the team that got burnt to a crisp in their temporary Tampa abode. Scottie Barnes and Fred VanVleet have this team playing red-hot basketball at the moment. Ujiri didn’t have […]
3 pivotal Masai Ujiri moves that made the Raptors a playoff team – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Kyle Lowry’s Players’ Tribune piece will get Raptors fans emotional

Kyle Lowry’s Players’ Tribune piece will get Raptors fans emotional

The Toronto Raptors are working their way back to the postseason in 2021-22, and they’re doing so without the services of future Hall of Fame point guard Kyle Lowry. After nearly a decade up north, Lowry decided to leave for a Miami Heat team that has a slightly better chance of winning a championship. After […]
Kyle Lowry’s Players’ Tribune piece will get Raptors fans emotional – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

3 critical X-factors that will impact Toronto Raptors in playoffs

3 critical X-factors that will impact Toronto Raptors in playoffs

The Toronto Raptors are likely headed back to the NBA playoffs in 2022 after a one-season hiatus in 2021. Pending an extended losing streak, the Raptors are on the verge of an above .500 season and less than a handful of victories away from officially securing a playoff berth. Even though Nick Nurse’s team is […]
3 critical X-factors that will impact Toronto Raptors in playoffs – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Jason Mills / Raptors HQ