Around the NHL: The Canadiens may have made the Cup Finals, but the franchise is probably doomed going forward

Around the NHL: The Canadiens may have made the Cup Finals, but the franchise is probably doomed going forward

It’s always weird writing articles like this, because criticizing a team for being good is a very weird stance to take. Making the Stanley Cup Finals is something that only two teams can accomplish in a season, and it’s a lot of hard work to get there. Depending on the trajectory of the franchise, it’s a sign of hope that you’ll be a contender for years to come, especially if it was the talent and ability of the team that got you there. Just look at the Tampa Bay Lightning making the Cup Finals in 2015, and six years later, they have two Cups to their name.
That said, there are two key phrases in that paragraph that mean the most in these kinds of runs: “the trajectory of the franchise” and “the talent and ability of the team”. That Tampa team made that Cup finals as a young, up and coming team poised for years of success, making that deep run with a solid 1-2 goalie tandem in Bishop and Vasilevskiy, a strong blueline with Hedman and Stralman at the helm, and a talented forward group led by Stamkos and the “Triplets Line” of Johnson, Palat, …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Top Toronto Raptors assistant Sergio Scariolo taking coaching job in Italy

Top Toronto Raptors assistant Sergio Scariolo taking coaching job in Italy

Of all the many weird quirks that this most recent Toronto Raptors season threw at fans, the brief 3-game stretch in which head coach Nick Nurse and almost every player with a pulse were ruled inactive due to the league’s health and safety protocols has to rank up there. Assistant coach Sergio Scariolo had to […]
Top Toronto Raptors assistant Sergio Scariolo taking coaching job in Italy – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Win it for JT

It still feels weird getting ready for a game. I think I can speak for a lot of Leafs Nation when I say that it feels like there’s stuff much bigger than the game going on. Tavares’ injury made me lose all interest in game 1, and for the most part, that’s carried into the second game.
But, Tavares is out of the hospital, and has been cleared of all structural damage to his head, neck, and spine. It’s still a concussion and a knee injury for him, and he’s still probably not going to play in the playoffs, but Tavares is for the most part okay, although I can only imagine how scary that must have been for him.

An update on @MapleLeafs captain John Tavares. pic.twitter.com/sV0dlfpdI8
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) May 21, 2021

However, the games must go on. The Leafs find themselves down 1-0 in the series, even though it’s not a loss you can fault them on. But, there are lots of things to go off of in this game. They ended up being the better team as far as driving play and generating scoring chances, although they didn’t generate …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

William Nylander should take over the 2C role

It feels weird to be writing this article. When that collision happened last night, it took me right out of the game. I just didn’t really care about the result anymore, all I cared about was how John Tavares was doing. That was so much bigger than this game.
I can’t even get mad at any of the players. Sure, Joe Thornton made two big turnovers in the offensive zone that led to both goals for the Habs. Sure, Jack Campbell probably could have not left his crease, something that didn’t help one of the goals, and nearly gave the Habs another. But, I can’t fault any of the player’s decision making because they obviously had bigger things on their mind.
The reason why I’m writing this article is not because my mind immediately went to “how can we replace him adequately”. I’m writing this because amidst that game on Thursday, where I was sick to my stomach from anxiety, William Nylander’s play was one of the positive takeaways from that game that grounded me and took my mind off the stress I was going through.
Now, I will address the elephant …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Raptors: Masai Ujiri should absolutely go after Zach LaVine in a trade

Raptors: Masai Ujiri should absolutely go after Zach LaVine in a trade

The Toronto Raptors are in a weird position through 20 games. They’re not good enough to compete for an NBA title, but they’re not bad enough to tank for a high draft pick. Being stuck in no man’s land is the most frustrating position in professional sports, especially when you’re a franchise like Toronto that has […]
Raptors: Masai Ujiri should absolutely go after Zach LaVine in a trade – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Stephen Nixon / Raptors HQ

Scott’s Thoughts: Why have the Leafs seemed “inconsistent”?

It’s weird. The Leafs are currently 5-2, tied for first in the division, and have even gotten point per game or better offense from the big four through seven games. But something seems off with this team.
Every game they play, they always have stretches where they can’t get anything going. Not just that, but they also don’t seem like they’re generating chances like they used to. Well, thankfully, there’s a bit of reasoning behind why. The Leafs haven’t looked like they’ve been creating chances because they haven’t been creating chances.
So far this season, the Leafs expected goals numbers have been mediocre at best. Expected goals helps us measure scoring chances because it measures each shot attempt and weighs it based on how much of a scoring chance it is. An unscreened point shot isn’t going to contribute much to it, while a shot into a wide open net off a rebound or cross crease pass will weigh a lot higher on it.
So far, the Leafs have only had 49.72% of the expected goals share at even strength. It’s not entirely bad, as that’s still really close to …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

The Leafs’ worst contract is actually Phil Kessel’s retained salary

Although it feels weird to say this in November, we are well into the dog days of the NHL offseason. Meaning we rarely see much news regarding transactions and announcements (with a few notable exceptions) while waiting for the return of hockey on XX/XX/2021.
It also means sports talk radio shows will look to find any sort of content to keep viewer interest up, leading to stuff like this:

Tavares’ contract might be the Leafs’ worst, unless they win.@OverDrive1050 discusses: https://t.co/ndTbopnJGA pic.twitter.com/0hgHaEfvi5
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) November 25, 2020

Even if it were true that the Leafs did indeed overspend on John Tavares, he was a free agent back in 2018 and could have easily accepted the San Jose Sharks’ offer of $13 million per season but instead took less to play for his hometown team. We don’t even need to get into whether or not the Leafs overpaid Mitch Marner on his extension.
Instead of responding with anger and fury over this take from the OverDrive team, I would like to instead present a counter-argument. As the title of this post outlines, the actual worst contract on the Leafs is Phil Kessel’s retained salary.


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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

Matt Shoemaker says the Blue Jays could face a hurdle signing free agents due to COVID-19

This is going to be a weird off-season.

The COVID-19 landscape will have ramifications on the entire league and this winter’s free agency class will certainly feel it. Many teams will be reluctant to spend big dollars in free agency this year due to the fact that owners lost a whole bunch of cash by not having fans in the seats.
From a Blue Jays’ perspective, they’re going to have to work around the uncertainty of not necessarily knowing where they’re going to play next year. Matt Shoemaker went on Sportsnet’s The Good Show on Wednesday and spoke about the challenges the organization will likely face…
“If COVID-19 is still a factor … that could play a huge aspect in anybody coming to Toronto, and hopefully it doesn’t,” Shoemaker said on Sportsnet’s “The Good Show” on Wednesday. “I think in general, before this season, everybody loves coming to Toronto when they play them on the road.
But I think it’s semi-tough for people to go to Toronto over a picking a different team in a regular season because some people are intimidated about going over the border.
“If Toronto wants you and they want …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Finding some positives in the Leafs brief return to play

What a weird week it was. We got the briefest taste of meaningful hockey. It was playoff shareware. And going beyond the qualifying round would have been nice, but honestly when we look back on a season that included a coaching change, numerous injuries, a loss to their own employee serving as an Emergency Backup Goaltender, it’s not hard to see why this was over before it began, and why moving on from numerous players on this roster now seems like the smart decision for the Leafs.
Anyways, there were a few positive takeaways from that series that we should want to cling to in the coming months. Let’s look at some of them now.
1. This is unquestionably Auston Matthews’ team
Matthews played with the greatest sense of urgency we’ve seen from him at any point in his career. When the Leafs were down, Matthews pushed harder, wanted the puck, and put the team on his back. In many ways this is a continuation of the regular season when Matthews had his career best goal totals, and helped the Leafs fight their way back into the playoffs, but the Columbus series put an …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Ranking the 5 Weirdest Teams in Toronto Raptors History 

There have been many weird teams in Toronto Raptors history. Some good, some bad, some ugly. The Toronto Raptors have always been regarded as a weird team in the NBA, I mean, after all, a team in Canada? Who wants to play there. They were always constantly viewed as a very cold pitstop a few […]
Ranking the 5 Weirdest Teams in Toronto Raptors History  – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Alexandro Fidanza / Raptors HQ