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

Raptors Game Tonight: Raptors vs Jazz Odds, Starting Lineup, Injury Report, Predictions, TV Channel for Jan. 7

Raptors Game Tonight: Raptors vs Jazz Odds, Starting Lineup, Injury Report, Predictions, TV Channel for Jan. 7

The Toronto Raptors caught a massive break as they try to pick up their fifth consecutive victory. While the latest Raptors odds originally had them as an underdog against one of the best teams in the West, they have since done a complete reversal after the injury report came out. Toronto will look to avenge […]
Raptors Game Tonight: Raptors vs Jazz Odds, Starting Lineup, Injury Report, Predictions, TV Channel for Jan. 7 – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

The Maple Leafs to do list for 2022

The Maple Leafs are a good hockey team, but they can always be better.
At the beginning of every year, New Year’s Resolution’s are made, whether it be written, spoken or typed. For Toronto, it’s difficult to pick resolutions when they’ve played good all season.
A 22-8-2 record, Jack Campbell leading the way with elite goaltending, Auston Matthews scoring like usual, and William Nylander producing at a career-high rate. Even Morgan Rielly is having a career season with 27 points in 32 games.
Toronto doesn’t look like they’re struggling.
As some might say ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, but this is more of an improvement article more than anything. This article has just as much to do with the players as it does Maple Leafs GM, Kyle Dubas.
So, let’s discuss.
1. Make a trade
Many have said it, and yes, it’ll need to happen — the Maple Leafs have to make a trade.
Last month, DailyFaceoff’s own Frank Seravalli came out with a trade target list which included some intriguing players. I wouldn’t say the Maple Leafs need a game-changing player, but maybe someone with a Stanley Cup winning past. Or maybe, a player who can just make a difference in the playoffs.
Enter Tomas Hertl. The 28-year-old has 26 points in 31 games this season and would be a good fit in the Maple Leafs’ top six. He’s in the final year of a four-year, $22.5 million contract, which would allow Toronto to use him as a rental.
Hertl has a lot of playoff experience, playing in 62 games and scor …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

A Maple Leafs game worth waiting half a month for

Last time we saw the Leafs play, we had a will they won’t they be able to play situation in Edmonton. Thankfully they played, played well, and shortly there after everything went to shit with players in COVID protocol and games postponed. Here we are 18 nights later and finally we had hockey. And hockey you want to see as a Leafs fan.
When a Jack Campbell shutout is doesn’t standout as significant in a 6-0 win, things are going good. The fact that not all of the 3 point scorers, or multi-goal scorers can make our three stars listing is encourage. The Leafs did pretty darn well. Still, if we’re going to dump some cold water on this, I guess it’s reasonable to point out that they were playing against Matt Murray, a goaltender who’s best days are well behind him, and a depleted Ottawa Senators lineup that probably wouldn’t look much more impressive if fully healthy. Still, it’s fun to get a win in what was a pretty close to flawless outing.
Here are your three stars…
3rd Star- William Nylander
It pains me to make Willie the third star, but in reality …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Svi Mykhailiuk has put the Raptors in an impossible situation

Svi Mykhailiuk has put the Raptors in an impossible situation

The Toronto Raptors knew that they were going into the season without a ton of shooting or experience on the bench, which prompted the signing of Ukrainian veteran Svi Mykhailiuk. After bouncing around the league as a second-round pick, a strong finish to the 2020-21 season prompted Masai Ujiri to bring him into the fold. […]
Svi Mykhailiuk has put the Raptors in an impossible situation – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Leaflets: Tavares is just that good, missing Marner, and more…

The Leafs hot November has cooled somewhat in December. They win some, they lose some, and injuries are much more of a concern than they were a few weeks ago. The Leafs are coming down to Earth.
The good news on that is that Earth is decidedly not what the Leafs had going on in early October either, and everyone with the lukewarm take of Toronto not being as good as November or bad as October can now smugly feel justified.
Here are a few stray thoughts on the current state of the Leafs.
Fixing the Muzzin/Holl pairing seems like an excellent New Year’s resolution
With injuries to Sandin and Dermott, and callups to Biega, Dahlstrom, and Rubins, it doesn’t seem like there is anything that can immediately be done about Muzzin and Holl, other than continuing to give Liljegren his shot at a top four role.
The fact that Liljegren is already in that situation, we at least know that Sheldon Keefe is very aware that Muzzin has lost a step and needs a partner who can cover for his lack of footspeed, and that Holl’s situation makes him no longer a viable top four …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The TLN Three Stars: Leafs nearly give up against Chicago; saved by Kämpf

As the Leafs hosted Chicago, who they had their early season turn around game against, there was hope in the air that Chicago could again be a pivoting point for Toronto. Having lost 3 of their last 4 games, the Leafs looked to tonight to turn that around.
After an early goal for Jonathan Toews, they went up to an early 4-1 lead, and it looked like they would walk away easily with a win. However, things weren’t so easy. Chicago came back to make it 4-4 late in the third period, after pressuring the Leafs all game. It’s hard to say what was score effects and what was Chicago just being more aggressive tonight than Toronto, but they ended up with a lead in the shot clock of 34 to 26 (29 to 22 at EV).
The Leafs did hold on with a crazy finish, as David Kampf is able to bury a puck that comes off the glass to a fortunate location:

Kampf is the beneficiary of a fortunate bounce. 5-4 Leafs #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/dWZ7OXCCLn
— Maple Leafs Hotstove (@LeafsNews) December 12, 2021

I tweeted this out as well, but a funny stat: David Kämpf now has a goal in each …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

Raptors Game Tonight: Raptors vs Thunder Odds, Starting Lineup, Injury Report, Predictions, TV Channel for Dec. 8

Raptors Game Tonight: Raptors vs Thunder Odds, Starting Lineup, Injury Report, Predictions, TV Channel for Dec. 8

The Toronto Raptors might be a bit beaten up due to injuries, but they did manage to ick off a long homestand by taking down two potential playoff teams in the Wizards and Bucks. The latest Raptors odds have Toronto positioned to take home their third victory in a row against a young team. Shai […]
Raptors Game Tonight: Raptors vs Thunder Odds, Starting Lineup, Injury Report, Predictions, TV Channel for Dec. 8 – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Seravalli’s trade target list has a few big ticket options for the Leafs to consider

Seravalli’s trade target list has a few big ticket options for the Leafs to consider

The Leafs are winning, why would they make a trade?
Well…you could argue that they don’t need to. You could argue that it will be hard for them to afford to. And you could argue they don’t have the moveable assets to pull it off, but frankly you’re just being a downer. The reality is that good teams add and don’t accept being good, they try to be better. The reality is the Leafs have found a way to make difficult salary cap moves before and it’s likely to happen again. And of course, when you look at the moveable assets piece, as long as some salary is heading out there’s no shortage of prospects, and draft picks (if you include the 2023 draft) to make something work. So yeah, we’re going to talk upgrades from time to time, and this week Frank Seravalli provided us with a list of names to consider.
You can check out Nick Barden’s look at Justin Holl’s availability. We’ve talked about a number of the players on the list already (Dylan Strome, Jake DeBrusk, Vitali Kravtsov, and JT Miller.)
That gives us four new( …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Why Kevin Gausman can survive the AL East the second time around

They have finally done it. The Blue Jays have been after Kevin Gausman for ever it seems and on Sunday they landed their guy signing Gausman to a 5-Year $110 million contract.

It’s not hard to see why the Blue Jays coveted Gausman, he checks off so many boxes for this front office. First of all he is an ace. Gausman had a 2.81 ERA last season, supported by a 3.00 FIP and 3.28 xFIP. By FanGraphs WAR he was worth 4.8 wins, ranking 10th among pitchers who threw at least 50 innings.
He struck out 227 batters against just 50 walks. He has swing and miss stuff, his 15.3% swinging-strike rate, was basically the same as Robbie Ray’s last season. Second, he is durable, having made at least 30 starts in four of the last five full seasons. His 192.0 innings pitched last year were the sixth most in baseball. This is something I think the Blue Jays have focused on. In a league where starters are pitching less and less the Blue Jays will have two pitchers (of just seven) in their rotation next season who threw 190 innings last season in Gausman and José Berríos.
Third, Gausman seems like a really good person.

Put some respect on …

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Author: Paul Berthelot / Blue Jays Nation