TLN Three Stars: Late goal from Mikheyev gives Leafs win in chaotic 6-5 game

This game had it all. An Auston Matthews “controller died” defensive performance on a goal. A sick faceoff play goal. A blown 3-1 lead. Timothy Liljegren’s first goal. A brutal goal allowed from Jack Campbell. Matthews reaching 10 straight road games with a goal. Ilya Mikheyev scoring from the corners. Jordan Binnington allowing six goals. Terrible officiating. Even Morgan Rielly wasn’t satisfied with the entertainment value and took a penalty with six second left to make it close. It wasn’t one of their prettier games, but the Leafs were the better team, and you can’t deny that it was a fun one. And the fact that the Leafs escaped it with with the win makes it even better, and ended the Blues 13 game home point streak as well.
TLN Three Stars
3rd Star: Timothy Liljegren
He was one of the best defenseman in the game for the Leafs possession wise, with a 68.8% CF% and 62.8% xGF%, all while playing just his second game in over a month and doing so against top competition alongside Jake Muzzin. Oh, and he finally got his first NHL goal with an absolute bullet of a one-timer for what was the go-ahead goal at the time.
2nd Star: Mitch Marner
Marner played his first game since returning …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Leafs’ Latest: Keefe talks about Marner’s PP problems

The Maple Leafs are getting set for their final game on the road (for a few days) tonight vs. the St. Louis Blues.
Along with Colorado and Vegas, this will be one of Toronto’s toughest tests of their trip. The Blues are currently third in the Central Division, only one point behind the Nashville Predators for first place.
In their last 15 games, St. Louis has gone 10-3-2 outscoring their opponents 53-37 in that span. The Maple Leafs have the same record in their last 15, but have outscored their opponents 66-43.
St. Louis has played exceptional at home, getting a point in their last 13 games. If they get a point tonight, the Blue will tie the second-best record in that category.
One player to watch for the Blues is Jordan Kyrou, who’s scored 19 points (6G, 13A) in his last 15 games.
A few key players who won’t be in St. Louis’ lineup vs. Toronto are Colton Parayko, and Pavel Buchnevich. Both Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko, who were in COVID protocols have completed their five-day isolation.
Blues’ head coach, Craig Berube said on Friday that it’s too early to tell if a few players in COVID protocol will be available tonight vs. Toronto.
Maple Leafs projected lineup vs. the St. Louis Blues
With an optional sk …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Know Your Enemy: Even a tired Maple Leafs team should probably have no problems with the Coyotes

The Leafs had another game where they dealt with injuries and got caved in by another dominant Western team, only to be rewarded by getting no calls as they came back to tie it and send it to overtime. Thankfully, the Leafs held on this time and got the win in the shootout, and while they now have to deal with the second half of a back-to-back, it’s with a very weak Coyotes team. They’re one of the worst in the league this year, and have a lineup reminiscent of the 2015-16 Leafs, and are more often than not an automatic win. They have a couple things that they aren’t bad at, but it doesn’t mask what the rest of the lineup does, making for what should be an easy matchup for the Leafs.
Note: This is based on projected lines and starters at the time of publishing. Coaches really love to surprise us right before game time, so there’s a solid chance that some of the matchups aren’t accurate for the actual game because of that.
Tale of the Tape (via Mark Norman)

Lineups
Toronto Maple Leafs

LW
C
RW
MICHAEL BUNTING
AUSTON MATTHEWS
ONDREJ KASE
ALEXANDER KERFOOT
JOHN TAVARES
WILLIAM NYLANDER
ILYA MIKHEYEV
DAVID KAMPF
WAYNE SIMMONDS
KYLE CLIFFORD
JASON SPEZZA
NICK RITCHIE

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
MORGAN RIELLY
T.J. BRODIE
JAKE MUZZIN
JUSTIN HOLL
RASMUS SANDIN
TRAVIS DERMOTT

Arizona Coyotes

LW
C
RW
LAWSON CROUSE
JOHAN LARSSON
PHIL KESSEL
ANDREW LADD
TRAVIS BOYD
CLAYTON KELLER
ANTOINE ROUSSEL
RILEY NASH
CHRISTIAN FISCHER
LIAM O’BRIEN
ALEX GALCHENYUK
NICK SCHMALTZ

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
SHAYNE GOSTISBEHERE
DYSIN MAYO
JANIS MOSER
VICTOR SODERSTROM
VLADISLAV KOLYACHONOK
ILYA LYUBUSHKIN

Forwards
As terrible as the Coyotes have been, and as weak as their forward group is, their top line of Lawson Crouse, Johan Larsson, and Phil Kessel have actually been a great combination together, particularly at driving scoring chances with the 50th best xGF% with 63.53%. That may be surprising considering that Kessel has been known for being an all-offensive winger while Crouse has been known for, well, not doing much of anything, but that’s the power of playing with Larsson. He’s a really strong defensive center, although that’s usually come in a bottom six role. He’s been fed to the wolves in Arizona on the top line, not only just by being given top competition, but also having to play with two wingers with no defensive capabilities, and that hasn’t phased him at all, not only making the line passable, but a strong possession top line.
Andrew Ladd, Travis Boyd, and Clayton Keller is another trio that’s worked surprisingly well, since this is the Coyotes and all. They only have a …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Report from the Rock: A short Growlers update

The Newfoundland Growlers have only played one game since their last home stand ended on December 12th, an overtime loss to the Adirondack Thunder on New Year’s Eve. Despite that lack of game action, there’s been a flurry of activity around the team, and with about 10 days to go until their next scheduled game, let’s try and make some sense of it all.
First and foremost, due to the ongoing situation with the Omicron variant of COVID-19, a number of games have obviously been postponed or cancelled outright. To date, the Growlers have seen 10 games get postponed, of those, four home games (January 7th, 8th, 12th, and 14th) have been cancelled. Two other home games, originally scheduled for January 9th and 15th have been rescheduled for March 13th and Febuary 13th, aligning those games with previously scheduled visits for the opponents in those games.
On the road game side of things, two planned December games against Adirondack have been rescheduled for Febuary 22nd and 23rd. Additionally, two games against Trois-Rivieres, originally slated for the post-Christmas break have been rescheduled for Febuary 27th and March 17th.
It remains to be seen if any further games will be affected, particularly here at home, where the Newfoundland and La …

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Author: Dylan Murphy / The Leafs Nation

Raptors star Fred VanVleet deserved Player of the Week award

Raptors star Fred VanVleet deserved Player of the Week award

The Toronto Raptors have yet to lose a game in 2022, and one of the main reasons for that hot stretch of basketball has been the performance of guard Fred VanVleet. Not only is the Wichita State product performing at an All-Star level, but he’s been so dominant that anyone who thinks he isn’t an […]
Raptors star Fred VanVleet deserved Player of the Week award – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Raptors could target athletic guard Max Christie in 2022 Draft

Raptors could target athletic guard Max Christie in 2022 Draft

It’s no secret that the Toronto Raptors‘ game plan in recent years has been to play hard defence and make plays in transition. Shooting tons of 3-point shots on the offensive end is a staple of their half-court attack. If they want to add a microwave scorer off the bench, they could use a draft […]
Raptors could target athletic guard Max Christie in 2022 Draft – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Matthew Eichhorn / Raptors HQ

News from the Rink: Marner and Sandin return to Maple Leafs lineup tonight vs. Senators

Ring in the first day of the new year with a game between the Ottawa Senators and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Ottawa is playing their first game since December 18th, while Toronto hasn’t played since December 14th. With both teams not playing in over two weeks, expect a game that will be both good and bad. Messy is the right word.
Drake Batherson is the Senators’ leading scorer with 28 points (9G, 19A) in 23 games. Right behind him in scoring is Brady Tkachuk, who has 22 points (12G, 10A) in 25 games played.
The Senators sit seventh in the Atlantic division with a 7-22-4 record.
Leafs lines heading into the game
Toronto had an optional morning skate this morning, meaning we won’t know the exact lineup until warmups. But, we can go back to what they were yesterday at practice, and go off that.

The Leafs have all their forwards for the 1st time all year.
Practice lines:
Bunting – Matthews – MarnerKerfoot – Tavares – NylanderMikheyev – Kampf – KaseEngvall – Spezza – SimmondsRitchie
Rielly – BrodieMuzzin – HollSandin – DermottKivihalme – Biega
CampbellMrazek
— Jonas Siegel (@jonassiegel) December 31, 2021

A few alarm bells rung off earlier this morning when we saw that Rasmus Sandin was reportedly sent to the minors. Many thought …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Breaking down the Toronto Maple Leafs depth chart heading into 2022

Two and a half weeks since their last game against the Edmonton Oilers, the Toronto Maple Leafs will hit the ice tonight against the Ottawa Senators.
If you follow me on Twitter (@Kyle_Cush), you’ll probably be familiar with the organizational depth charts I tweet out regularly. Needless to say, it has been an unusually long time between games, so it has been a while since I last put out an update. With how many moves have been completed factoring in COVID protocol, players returning from injury, and the re-introduction of the taxi squad, let’s dive into the Leafs complete depth chart to get you back up to speed on each level of the organization.
As of the morning of January 1, 2022, here is where the Toronto Maple Leafs organizational depth chart stands:

To begin, the Maple Leafs have all of their NHL forwards healthy and available for the first time since the preseason. Ilya Mikheyev returned to Toronto’s lineup just prior to this COVID pause, while Mitch Marner comes back into the Maple Leafs lineup after a spell on LTIR.
As of Friday’s practice, it appears as though Nick Ritchie will be the odd man out. …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

Leafs recall Dahlström and Seney, loan Rubīns to the Marlies

After a difficult game for Kristians Rubins last night with the Leafs, he’s been sent back to the Marlies.

The Maple Leafs have recalled defenceman Carl Dahlström and forward Brett Seney from the Toronto Marlies (AHL).
Defenceman Kristiāns Rubīns has been loaned to the Marlies.
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) December 12, 2021

Coming up for Toronto is Carl Dahlstrom and Brett Seney. Dahlstrom has played in almost every game for the Marlies, while Seney has the second-most points on the team. It’s difficult to tell whether this is injury-related for the Leafs, but I assume it’s just for a day of NHL pay.
With Alex Biega already up with the Leafs, it’s hard to assume Dahlstrom will get a game before him.
Another reason as to why I say it’s likely just for pay is because the Marlies play three games in three days this weekend. Today is the final game of the trip, so it’s wise for Toronto to call them up for some pay.
We’ll have to see what happens at Leafs practice tomorrow to get a definitive answer.

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Leafs’ Jason Spezza offered in-person hearing for hit on Neal Pionk, Simmonds fined

After last night’s Leafs vs. Jets game, which Auston Matthews called a “gongshow,” the NHL Department of Player Safety has handed out some hearings for Jason Spezza and Neal Pionk.
The Department of Player Safety has offered Spezza an in-person hearing, which means the NHL can suspend him for more than five games.

Toronto’s Jason Spezza has been offered an in-person hearing via Zoom for Kneeing Winnipeg’s Neal Pionk. Date and time TBD.
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) December 6, 2021

On this play, Spezza can be seen hitting Pionk while he’s reaching to clear the puck out of the zone with his hand. Spezza goes to throw a hit, and his knee catches Pionk right in the head. Neither one of Spezza or Pionk were penalized on their plays.

Jason Spezza is an avenger
Goes right for Pionk pic.twitter.com/95v2TID9UE
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) December 6, 2021

Spezza’s hit came after Pionk went knee-on-knee with Rasmus Sandin. Pionk is also getting a hearing of his own, but it’s not in-person.

Winnipeg’s Neal Pionk will have a hearing today for Kneeing Toronto’s Rasmus Sandin.
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) December 6, 2021

This was the play where Pionk …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation