How can Mitch Marner take yet another step forward for the Leafs?

Mitchell Marner has been a key part of the Toronto Maple Leafs ever since he first burst onto the scene in 2016-17, as part of that core group of rookies that helped the Leafs in their surprising push to the playoffs. Ever since that magical first season, Marner has only gotten better. There have been ups and downs for the star winger, from a controversial contract, to struggles in the playoffs, but he has undoubtedly been a key cog in the Leafs’ regular season success, and he will need to continue to do so if the Leafs wish to remain competitive.
But can Marner find yet another level in the 2022-23 season? He’s been nothing short of dominant alongside Auston Matthews the past few seasons, and despite the first-round loss, the two of them finally seemed to have it all together in the playoffs this season. Remember this?

“Marner to Matthews scORESSSSS! YES! YES! YES!”
Felt that call in my SOUL!pic.twitter.com/uQ3GiP9cKE
— Kwnhausen (@KwnStorm) May 11, 2022

That might have been the best Leafs fans have felt during the playoffs since 2004, and Marner will be on a mission to try and improve on it even further this season, with the burden of trying to bring the Leafs past the first round for the first time in what will be 19 years when April 2023 rolls around. That burden has seemed to weigh heavily on Marner in the past, especially after the raised expectations that came with the $10.9 million contract he signed in the summer of 2019. People noted that he seemed to try to do too much, especially in the playoffs, trying to be a hero …

Read More

Author: Jaden Ho / The Leafs Nation

The Blue Jays are now seven games up on Baltimore after another 6-3 win over the O’s

The Orioles have been a great story this year, and they’ve been a pain in the side of the Blue Jays, who are looking to establish themselves down the stretch in the playoff race. Now, it looks like Toronto has found their stride against their AL East rival, as they have now won six of their last seven games against Baltimore.

Raimel Tapia and George Springer combined for a pair of big hits leading the Blue Jays to a 6-3 win over the Orioles on Saturday afternoon. Jose Berrios earned his 11th win of the season, as well as his third straight quality start for the month of September.
The day started off with a bang, as Tapia made a leaping catch against the left field wall to rob Cedric Mullins of an extra-base hit to lead off the game. Tapia, who has logged more innings in the outfield due to the injury of Lourdes Gurriel Jr., even gave a Dikembe Mutombo-esque finger wag after the catch, as if to say “Don’t hit it this way.”

Raimel Tapia…
Wearing red Climbing walls Made a web gem
Spider-Man? pic.twitter.com/ue44w7xwmR
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) September 17, 2022

For the second consecutive game, Matt Chapman got the Blue Jays on the board first. Springer and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. each singled to start the bottom of the 1st. Bo Bichette grounded into a fielder’s choice to advance Springer to third, with Bichette hustling to first to stay out of a double play. Chapman followed by hitting a sac fly to center field, scoring Springer. The Blue Jays’ lack of ability to score runs with runners in scoring position has been a frustrating thing for fans to watch all season, so it was good to see the Blue Jays get baserunners into scoring position and get them home.
Santiago Espinal and Cavan Biggio led off the second inning with single each, opening the door for Springer to drive them both in with a 2-run double.
Berrios let the Orioles back into the …

Read More

Author: Evan Stack / Blue Jays Nation

Establishing reasonable expectations for Ilya Samsonov

I’ve been following the Leafs for a long time. And in those many years of following the Maple Leafs one thing I can never recall seeing is a goaltender coming to Toronto and seeing their career rebound. Jack Campbell and Frederik Andersen maybe punctuated their success after establishing that they were good during their time in Southern California, but neither was truly struggling. Curtis Joseph and Ed Belfour came to Toronto and continued on with their Hall of Fame worthy careers, but no one breaks out in Toronto and that’s part of why establishing expectations for Ilya Samsonov is important.
It’s also important to note that with a new goaltending coach comes the opportunity to erase the past. Just because it hasn’t happened doesn’t mean it can’t happen now. If hope is an important part of your Leafs viewing process, I’m not going to be the person that takes away from you, and admittedly I’m very excited about Curtis Sanford as the Leafs goaltending coach too. I’ve caught myself believing he could do for goaltending what Dean Chynoweth did for special teams, and then reminded myself to dial it back a little.
Dialing …

Read More

Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Another excellent Ross Stripling start earns the Blue Jays the series victory over the Rays

This season, it’s been comical how much the Blue Jays have struggled against pitchers with elevated ERAs. Kyle Bradish of the Orioles, Tucker Davidson of the Angels, and several others have had their way with Toronto while carrying ERAs north of 5.

Conversely, the Blue Jays have been really good against some of the league’s best. Gerrit Cole has struggled against Toronto this season, Santiago Espinal and Bradley Zimmer hit back-to-back home runs against Justin Verlander back in April, and even Zach Wheeler allowed six runs to this Blue Jays team.
So it would make sense that after struggling against Cooper Criswell earlier this week, it would only be right that the Blue Jays would chase Drew Rasmussen from his start tonight after only four innings of work. Rasmussen came into tonight owning a 2.57 ERA, allowing no more than three runs in each of his last 12 starts.
The Blue Jays offense didn’t let Rasmussen get in a groove, and they backed another stellar Ross Stripling start as the Blue Jays defeated Tampa Bay 5-1 tonight, clinching a series victory regardless of what happens tomorrow.
We’re starting to run out of adjectives to describe how well Stripling has pitched for Toronto this season, and you’d have to think the better he pitches down the stretch, …

Read More

Author: Evan Stack / Blue Jays Nation

NBA Insider believes Raptors could make conference Finals run

NBA Insider believes Raptors could make conference Finals run

The Toronto Raptors have been accustomed to their status as perpetual underdogs. Not only are teams that could compete rarely given the time of day by the larger NBA media, but teams that are regarded as being deficient in one or two key areas are immediately cast into the lottery without a second thought. That […]
NBA Insider believes Raptors could make conference Finals run – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

Read More

Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Jarrett Culver signs with Hawks amid connections to Raptors

Jarrett Culver signs with Hawks amid connections to Raptors

The Toronto Raptors have never been above scouring the free agent market for underperforming assets that could hit their stride with just the right amount of seasoning and coaching. If anyone is in need of such a boost from Nick Nurse, it’s former No. 6 overall pick Jarrett Culver. After leading Texas Tech to one […]
Jarrett Culver signs with Hawks amid connections to Raptors – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

Read More

Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Raptors rumors: Toronto showing interest in Bojan Bogdanovic

Raptors rumors: Toronto showing interest in Bojan Bogdanovic

The Toronto Raptors had to have been in a state of complete disbelief when the Cleveland Cavaliers managed to pilfer Donovan Mitchell away from the rebuilding Utah Jazz. With veterans like Bojan Bogdanovic next up on the chopping block, contenders from around the league are hitting up Danny Ainge. While names like Malik Beasley and […]
Raptors rumors: Toronto showing interest in Bojan Bogdanovic – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

Read More

Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

How much is Ross Stripling going to make on his next contract?

Ross Stripling has been one of the most pleasant surprises on the Toronto Blue Jays this year.

Given the way he’s pitching, Stripling is going to earn himself a nice contract as he’s set to reach free agency for the first time in his career this winter. How much is he going to earn? And should the Blue Jays be the team to pay him?
Digging into Ross Stripling’s success in 2022…
At the beginning of the season, the team designated Stripling as the long man out of the bullpen. His role was going to be to make multi-inning appearances and also make spot starts when the rotation needed to be spaced out.
But the plan changed as Hyun Jin Ryu went down with forearm soreness. Stripling was thrown into Ryu’s spot in the rotation and that spot became permanent after Ryu underwent season-ending surgery on his elbow.
Stripling has fared better than anybody could have expected. Through 27 appearances, 19 of which were strikes, Stripling has posted a 3.03 ERA and his 3.04 FIP indicates it hasn’t been a mirage. He’s sitting at 107 innings pitched on the year, quickly approaching his career mark of 122 IP that he threw back in 2018 with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Stripling is a pitcher who will pick his spots in …

Read More

Author: Ryan Snodgrass / Blue Jays Nation

Around the Atlantic: Zadina, Myers sign new deals, Sandin headlines list of remaining RFA’s

Around the Atlantic: Zadina, Myers sign new deals, Sandin headlines list of remaining RFA’s

It has been a quiet week in the Atlantic division. There haven’t been any new acquisitions but two RFA’s have signed. It appears most of the teams in the Atlantic have their rosters set for the upcoming season. There are however still four unsigned restricted free agents.
Zadina, Myers sign new contracts
Since being selected sixth overall by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2018 draft Zadina has struggled to produce at the NHL level. Many thought he could be on his way out of Detroit this offseason. Instead they signed him to a three-year deal at an average annual value (AAV) of 1.825M.
Last season he scored ten goals and 24 points in 74 games (all career highs). While he improved his output, this still doesn’t match the expectations the team had for him when using a top ten selection.
Even though he has been unable to score consistently this contract could be a win for the Wings. At this point he is a low-end depth player but if his development gets back on track he could be underpaid by next season. If he doesn’t improve it’s a not much of a loss as the cap hit won’t hurt the Wings.
Philippe Myers was sent to Tampa Bay from Nashville in the Ryan McDonagh trade …

Read More

Author: Scott Ony / The Leafs Nation

What should the Maple Leafs’ next goal song be?

What should the Maple Leafs’ next goal song be?

It’s been four years since the Maple Leafs began using Hall and Oates’ “You Make My Dreams Come True” as their goal song and it’s finally time to send it to the stratosphere.
That means, it’s change Toronto’s goal song o’clock.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy “You Make My Dreams Come True” just as much as everyone else, but sometimes change can be good. Sometimes, change can make different outcomes possible — maybe even the opposite of a first round exit.
There is criteria, though, for a brand new song. It has to be fast, loud, and able to get the fans going when the Maple Leafs put the puck into the back of the net. It would also be a plus if the artist was Canadian, however it’s not required.
It doesn’t need to be perfect, nor should it be a song any NHL team has used in the past — it needs to be one of their own. One that fits the Maple Leafs’ brand.
So, here are my three picks:
My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up) – Fall Out Boy

We begin with this song because, well, listening to it can get you incredibly hyped up first of all
Secondly, if you move the play cursor to the 50 second mark, you can hear them sing the “Light Em Up” portion, which is where the goal song would begin when the Maple Leafs score. “Light Em Up” also specifies that Toronto is scoring against the opposition, and that seems like the perfect fit.
Of all the songs on the list, this one might just be the perfect fit for the Maple Leafs.
 
Years In The Making …

Read More

Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation