Toronto Maple Leafs hope to keep momentum going into season’s first battle of Ontario

After a rough start to the season opener where Jack Campbell was forced to bail out his teammates early and often during the first half of the opening frame, the team was able to settle down and control play for the remaining 50 minutes en route to a 2-1 win over their rival Montreal Canadiens. Winning a season opener against a rival is about as must-win as any game this early in the calendar can get for a team so the Toronto Maple Leafs will now look to ride that high of coming out on top of what was surely the most important Leafs vs Habs game of the past year into a game two matchup against the Ottawa Senators.
With this being the second game in two nights for the Leafs, the brand new goaltending tandem will be tested early as Petr Mrázek makes his Maple Leafs debut, hoping to match the stellar performance Jack Campbell put on the night before. Mrázek won’t be the only one getting tested however, as the Maple Leafs will be looking to show that they can have the killer instinct necessary to not only win games, but dominate games they should be winning. …

Read More

Author: Filipe Dimas / The Leafs Nation

How the Leafs stack up in statistical prediction models for the 2021-22 season

We’re very nearly at the start of the 2021-22 NHL season, and as such, all of the very smart statistical minds in the public hockey sphere are releasing their season previews showing what their models project will happen this year. Other than the playoffs, this is one of my favourite times of the year, because it allows me to learn a bit more about statistical projections while getting my excitement level up for the upcoming season.
This year we’re going to be looking at 4 models:
FiveThirtyEight
Dom Luszczyszyn of The Athletic
Evolving-Hockey
Micah Blake McCurdy of HockeyViz
Each model is constructed differently, with different levels of “open-source” information on how it’s created. I’m not going to go too in depth on how each model works, but I’ll try to give a high level description, and link to the in depth explanations where I can.
I’ll also summarize the projections in a table at the bottom of the post for quick consumption, if that’s your thing.
FiveThirtyEight
Truthfully, in writing this article I’m only now discovering that FiveThirtyEight does NHL projections. I’ve used them extensively for political projections at election time, but …

Read More

Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

Raptors: Doc Rivers’ comments on size show how tough TOR can be

Raptors: Doc Rivers’ comments on size show how tough TOR can be

The Toronto Raptors were able to start off their preseason with a bang, as their Monday night win against Doc Rivers and the Philadelphia 76ers in their return to Canada also served as the unveiling of their new-look style of basketball themes around size and length on the perimeter. While some individual performances stood out, […]
Raptors: Doc Rivers’ comments on size show how tough TOR can be – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

Read More

Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Expect a battle for final roster spots tonight as the Leafs face the Sens

After splitting the “series” with the Canadiens to start the preseason, the Maple Leafs head to Ottawa tonight for their 3rd preseason game. Yesterday, Sheldon Keefe mentioned that Toronto wouldn’t be bringing any of its top players to Ottawa for tonight’s game, so tonight will primarily be focused on those battles for the last few roster spots.

Sheldon Keefe said #Leafs won’t be taking many NHLers to Ottawa for tomorrow’s game. Wants to give players looking to crack the roster more of an opportunity to showcase themselves.
— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) September 28, 2021

Lines
As promised, the roster for tonight’s game features no Mitch Marner or other top-6 forwards. Nor does it have Morgan Rielly or the other top-4 defenders. Instead, we’ll be looking at most of the players considered in the bottom-6 forwards and bottom-pair defense, to see who is fitting in well and who should make the team. Here’s how the lines will look:

#Leafs lines at morning skate
Robertson-Kerfoot-SimmondsGusev-Kampf-KaseBunting-Semyonov-Ho-SangBrooks-Amadio-Gabriel,extra: Abramov, Engvall
Sandin-BiegaDahlstrom-DermottKral-LiljegrenDuszak-Villeneuve
MrazekHutchinson
— David Alter (@dalter) September 29, 2021

We will probably see a lot of action from PTOs Nikita Gusev and Joshua Ho-Sang, as Leafs management makes the decision on whether …

Read More

Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

TLN Top 20 Leafs: #20 Pierre Engvall

It’s time to kick start our Top 20 Leafs countdown. And to start it off we’ve got a player that we as Leafs fans have generally underrated since day one. Pierre Engvall was a 7th round pick. He then took four years to make it North America, all the while he had a hard time cracking our top twenty prospect list. Now here he is coming in at the bottom of the Leafs roster rankings. On one hand it’s amazing that he’s here, but on the other hand maybe we’re still not giving him as much respect as he deserves compared to some of the other players on this list.
When it came to ranking Engvall, there was a pretty significant range on him. One of our contributors had him as the Leafs 13th best player, some had him ranked exactly where he’s at, and 4 contributors left him off their rankings completely. Somehow all of this seems fair.
Five Interesting Stats
S%
GF%
TOI w/Mikheyev
SH TOI
Career GWG/G
11.5
54.05
282.5
22:50
26.7%
So here’s the thing on Pierre Engvall, he’s billed as a defensive specialist. Still, his 7 goals in 42 games is solid offensive production …

Read More

Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Drew Hutchison is the Tigers’ scheduled starter against the Blue Jays on Sunday

It’s time for the Blue Jays to start winning some fucking games.

After putting together an amazing, seemingly season-changing stretch when they returned to Toronto, the Blue Jays hit the road to travel west and fell completely flat.
They split a four-game series with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, dropped two of three in Seattle and lost George Springer to an injury in the process, and then, worst of all, they capped the trip off by dropping both games in a two-game series with the lowly Washington Nationals, a team that traded away nearly everyone of note on their roster before the trade deadline.
At the beginning of September, the Blue Jays will play seven games that will ultimately go a long, long, loooooong way in deciding whether or not they’ll be able to make the playoffs. They host Oakland for three games and then they travel to the Bronx to play the Yankees four times.
These head-to-head games will be massive for the team to make up ground on two of the teams they’re chasing in the wild-card race. Before that, though, the Blue Jays have a prime opportunity to get hot and put pressure …

Read More

Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Around the NHL: Winners and losers from the start of free agency

The start of free agency is easily one of the most exciting times on the hockey calendar, as teams take this opportunity to bring in some players to help improve their roster, giving up no assets except cap space. However, in a flat cap era, cap space is an extremely important asset, and wasting it can ruin your team for years, even worse than a bad trade or drafting a bust with a high pick.
With that, there are always winners and losers in free agency. Some teams make out really well bringing in good players on low or market value deals, and others get greedy, sign a ton of okay players to contracts that won’t age well, and then pay for it down the road (just look at all the assets teams have had to give up to get rid of bad contracts this offseason).
So, let’s take a look at some of the biggest winners (and losers) from the first couple of days of free agency.
Loser: Edmonton Oilers
Let’s start with maybe the most tragic one (only because I feel terrible for Connor McDavid), but after already weakening the roster by bringing in Duncan …

Read More

Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Good Ross Stripling Has Arrived

Ross Stripling’s Blue Jays career did not start as expected after he was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers at the 2020 Trade Deadline.
In 15.2 innings in 2020, Stripling had a 6.32 ERA. The underlying numbers were better, a 3.70 FIP and 4.10 xFIP, but, given the cost of acquisition, this left a sour taste in people’s mouths. It didn’t help when to start 2021 Stripling was even worse with a 7.20 ERA in six starts, which had many believing the Blue Jays would be better off just cutting him loose.

Things change! After getting lit up by Boston on May 19, Stripling made some changes to his delivery, trying to hide the ball more, as you can see in this great video from Chris Black…

On the left: Ross Stripling’s start on May 19 vs BOS (he got shelled)
On the right: His last appearance (7 scoreless IP)
A bit more of a delivery…
But also, hands tucked closer to his body for majority of delivery, which hides the ball, especially when hands separate. pic.twitter.com/XA9FZZQ6YJ
— Chris Black (@DownToBlack) May 30, 2021

To say the changes had worked would be an understatement…

Innings
ERA
FIP
xFIP
BABIP
HR/FB
Before May 19
25.0
7.20
5.44
4.34
.392
19.4
After May 19
35.1
2.29
3.53
3.95
.202
10.5
*Stats …

Read More

Author: Paul Berthelot / Blue Jays Nation

Analyzing the up-and-down start to Alek Manoah’s big league career

Alek Manoah has had an up and down start to his Major League career.

He’s had very good outings in tough situations, pitching very well against the Yankees, White Sox, and Red Sox on the road, but he’s also struggled against weak opponents in the Marlins and Orioles.
His season earned run average of 4.18 doesn’t look great, especially when it comes with a 6.18 FIP and 4.52 xFIP, but prior to that Orioles start his ERA was a sparkling 2.66. He may not be the saviour of the rotation everyone expected but he has given the team quality innings and most importantly has taken the ball every turn through the rotation so the team doesn’t have to worry about a bullpen game once a week.
With five starts under his belt, this is a good chance to evaluate how Manoah is doing, what his attack plan for hitters has been, and how hitters made adjustments now that they have some video on him.
We will begin with the fastball. Manoah has thrown his fastball 42.9% of the time. He typically throws the fastball up in the zone, as he did in his first three starts…

There is nothing there in …

Read More

Author: Paul Berthelot / Blue Jays Nation

TLN Three Stars: Game lost, Captain lost, and optimism lost

TLN Three Stars: Game lost, Captain lost, and optimism lost

Let’s start with the most important thing on our minds following that loss to the Canadiens, that is the injury to John Tavares. You can find a summary of the incident here, and aside from Chris Johnston’s update that Tavares was taken to the hospital, we are still left wondering how he’s doing.
Now as for the game itself, the Leafs were victim to Carey Price playing like the Carey Price that used to be talked about as one of the greatest goaltenders in the world. His robbing of Marner on his one-timer attempt during a 2 on 1 with Nylander was the additional bad omen the Leafs didn’t need tonight. The Habs scored shortly after the Tavares injury, and the Leafs were able to hold on for the rest of the period, and actually rally as best they could in the second with a goal from Nylander, but Price was vintage Price, and that’s all they got before the predestined short handed goal by Paul Byron in the third that put emphasis on how toxic the Leafs powerplay has been this year. Arguably Jack Campbell should want that one back, but he’s probably the third …

Read More

Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation