Breaking Down the Tyler Toffoli Trade

Yesterday afternoon, you may have heard the news that the Vancouver Canucks had acquired Los Angeles Kings forward Tyler Toffoli in a trade. In return for the 27 year old goal scorer, the Canucks will send Tim Schaller, Tyler Madden, a second round draft pick and a conditional fourth round pick to Los Angeles. So far this season, Toffoli has 18 goals and 34 points in 58 games for a pretty bad Kings team. Like any trade in the National Hockey League, this one has some pros and cons for both sides, so let’s look at it from the Canucks’ perspective. 

Pro #1 – The Canucks have added a proven top 6 winger who can put the puck in the net. 

Even with guys like Brock Boeser, J.T. Miller, Jake Virtanen and Tanner Pearson all on pace to get over 20 goals this year, the addition of more scoring never hurts. Toffoli can slot in on Horvat’s line and make Vancouver’s second line more formidable that it’s been in a long time, which will bump another scorer to the third line and help the lineup become more dynamic as a whole. If you’re interested in the comparison between Tyler and the guys we already have, he’s now the only winger on the Canucks with more that 30 goals in a season besides Loui Eriksson, who did it more than 10 years ago. Overall, this added depth of scoring can’t hurt the Canucks chances at making a run in the playoffs this season, especially considering that Toffoli is a Stanley Cup Champion, and knows what it takes to go far in the postseason.

Pro #2 – Toffoli and Pearson are reunited

In Los Angeles, Tyler and Tanner had great success as line mates alongside veteran Jeff Carter. They were dubbed ‘that 70s line’ because they all wear numbers in the seventies, and became great friends off the ice as well. Now, with Toffoli and Pearson together again in Vancouver, many fans believe that they will play on either side of centre Bo Horvat. So far this year, Horvat has 46 points and Pearson has 41, but if Tyler and Tanner can rekindle that chemistry that they had in L.A., the Canucks could have a very good counterpunch to Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller’s line. Here’s Pearson talking about the trade earlier today:

Pro #3 – Toffoli makes up for the loss of Brock Boeser

Just recently, news came out that Brock Boeser would be out 6-8 weeks with a fracture in his rib cartilage. Even more recently, GM Jim Benning made a statement saying that he’s likely out for the remainder of the regular season. Obviously, this is a big loss for the Canucks, as Boeser is 4th in points on the team and has a shot that makes him an integral part of the first power play unit. Fortunately, Toffoli should be able to at least help fill that void on the man advantage. Both Boeser and Toffoli are right handed shooters, so Tyler will be able to play the same left side position that Boeser does on the power play. 

Like I said however, its not very often where there’s only positive sides to a trade in professional sports. This one’s no different, so let’s take a look at some of the possible negative sides of this trade for the Canucks:

Con #1 – Tyler Madden in no longer a Canucks prospect

When gaining someone as useful as Tyler Toffoli, you have to give someone of value up on return, and the Canucks did that when they traded away Tyler Madden. The 2018 third round pick has had a very solid season with Northeastern University, leading them in points with 37 in 27 games. However, Madden is a centre, which is a position that the Canucks are pretty strong in right now with Pettersson, Horvat, and Adam Gaudette. On top of that, the franchise already has other exciting prospects at forward on the way, including Nils Hoglander, Kole Lind, and Vasily Podkolzin. Given the situation, Madden may have been a guy that the Canucks were looking at trading away anyways, but nonethless, the franchise lost a talented young player in this trade.

Con #2 – Toffoli may only be here for half a season

Unfortunately for Vancouver, Tyler Toffoli only has this season to play before his contract expires and he becomes an unrestricted free agent. He makes $4.6 million per year right now, but if he wants a pay raise, Vancouver may not have the money to give. Obviously this is a risk Jim Benning was willing to take, but if Toffoli does walk, we gave away Madden and a second rounder for a guy to play 20-30 games in a Canucks jersey. This will be especially frustrating if Vancouver isn’t able to go very far in the postseason, because helping the team win now is the biggest reason Toffoli was brought in.

Con #3 – The Canucks have no first or second round draft picks next year 

Lastly, with this trade and the trade for J.T. Miller in the offseason, the Canucks have no first or second round draft picks in the 2020 NHL entry draft if they make the playoffs this year. Unfortunately for Vancouver, this upcoming draft year is loaded with talent. Now obviously they can still trade to get one back, but if they don’t, the franchise’s first pick next year will come in the later stages of the third round. However, with the conditions of the Miller trade, if the Canucks don’t make the playoffs this season, they’ll get their first round pick this year, and it will be Tampa Bay’s pick in 2021. Either way, Benning seems content with the prospects he has in place now, and is OK with dealing draft choices away in order to get proven NHL players for today’s team. 

Over the last few years, hopefully we’ve learned to wait and see how everything plays out before judging trades in Vancouver. That Cory Schnieder deal ended up just fine for us didn’t it? So for now, let’s just hope that Toffoli can come in and make an immediate impact, because it’s officially crunch time for the Canucks. For now, this is what a healthy Canucks roster will look like heading into playoffs: 

NBA All-Star Weekend Is Here!

Of all the All-Star weekends between the four major sports in North America, many fans believe that the NBA puts on the best show. Although the actual game is as mediocre as the others, the league keeps fans engaged with the Rising Stars game, which features the best rookie and sophomore players, as well as a skills challenge, three point contest, and a dunk contest. On top of all this, NBA All-Star weekend always brings in more celebrities and famous faces than all of the other all-star festivities put together. It’s a weekend of celebration for the most talented basketball players in the world surrounded by musical artists, actors, and retired athletes. It just LOOKS like a great time out there. 

To start the festivities off this year, Friday night held the Rising Stars game, featuring names like Trae Young, Ja Morant, Zion Williamson, and Canadian R.J. Barrett. The format of the game is American players versus everyone else, which can lead to a slightly more competitive matchup with guys representing their countries. After a slow start to the game, we actually did start to see guys trying a little harder, which is obviously always more fun for the viewer at home. In this year’s game, the starters for both teams matched up pretty well, but the American squad proved to be a lot deeper, and dominated the World’s bench. The game ended in a 151-131 win for the Americans. Canadians RJ Barrett, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Brandon Clarke combined for 20 points in the game for team World. Check out the highlights below:

Next up for the weekend are the Saturday night events, featuring a skills challenge, three point shooting contest, and, of course, the dunk contest. Not only is this the order they happen in, it’s also the order of relevance they have to the weekend. The skills challenge is cool and all, but the three point contest is more impressive, and the dunk contest is always the most highly anticipated thing about the whole weekend. Anyways, the skills challenge consists of 8 people. It’s a one on one game of passing, dribbling and shooting where the winner moves on and the loser is out. Toronto’s Pascal Siakam made it past the first round, but was then bumped by Miami Heat big man Bam Adebayo. Bam ended up winning in the final round over Indiana’s Domantas Sabonis, and was the first champion of the night. Check out the final round right here:

After that, it was on to the 3 point contest. Although neither Steph Curry nor Klay Thompson would be putting on for the Golden State Warriors, we were still going to be seeing some very good shooters doing what they do best. The field included Atlanta’s Trae Young, Phoenix’s Devin Booker, last year’s winner Joe Harris, and Buddy Hield from Sacremento. In the end it was down to Hield, Booker, and Davis Bertans. After Booker beat Bertans’ score, it was up to Hield, who ended up besting Booker by a single point. Watch highlights from his terrific final round here:

Finally, we were in for the treat we’d all been waiting for – the dunk contest. This year’s contest would feature a 34 year old Dwight Howard, Pat Connaughton, Dennis Jones Jr., and the Orlando Magic’s Aaron Gordon. Now if you keep up with dunk contests, you would know that this was Gordon’s first attempt at it after being very close to a win in 2016 against Zach Lavine. Their head to head matchup is considered by many to be the main part of one of the best dunk contests ever. This year, things were looking good for Gordon early on, as he started with two 50/50 dunks. This earned him a spot in the finals against the high flying Jones Jr., who is no stranger to amazing slam dunks either. In the finals, each player is given 2 attempts. This year, both Jones Jr. and Gordon scored 50s on both dunks of the final round, meaning an overtime round would eventually establish the winner. Here’s one of the best of the night from Jones. Jr.:

In the last round, Jones went first and scored a 48 with a windmill dunk from just inside the free throw line. Everyone watching thought that this was finally the chance that Gordon needed to finish off the competition, seeing as he had scored a 50 on every dunk so far in the night. So Gordon called over Tacko Fall, who is 7 foot 5, and jumped over him on his last dunk. Everyone watching thought that the 6 foot 8 Gordon had finally won the dunk contest, getting revenge for the heartbreaking loss he suffered in 2016. Unfortunately, the judges weren’t as excited about the dunk as everyone else was, and scored it a 47/50. Aaron Gordon had come up just short in overtime rounds of the dunk contest for the second time in 4 years. In his interview after the fact, he told reporters that he would not be coming back to the dunk contest, because he felt like he should already have two trophies.

Overall, Friday and Saturday night at the All-Star weekend were successes, but the story everyone will be talking about is the dunk contest. It’s too bad that this is how this year’s version will mainly be remembered, but unless anything remarkable happens in the game, this will likely be the reality. One awesome thing did come out of the weekend, however, and that was the renaming of the all-star game MVP to the Kobe Bryant MVP award. It’s a great gesture from the league in honour of one of the greatest to ever play the game, and a 4 time winner of the award himself. 

The Top 3 Storylines for Canadian NHL Teams Right Now

After what seems like the blink of an eye, the second month of 2020 is almost half over and the NHL season continues to get more and more interesting by the day. As you may have seen me write about before, Canadian teams are staying in the thick of things this season, and today we’re going to take a look at the top 3 storylines of the year so far for these Canadian teams.

Number 1 – The Battle of Alberta is allllllll the way back. 

Even as a Canucks fan, this is an easy one. It’s not all that common anymore to see a rivalry where teams have such obvious dislike for one another, but this sure is the reality between the Flames and Oilers. During the course of the year, we’ve seen suspensions, chirping in the media, and a ton of fights between these two teams. Not only did we see two top point producers in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sean Monahan duke it out, we also saw a full out goalie fight. Now not everyone supports fighting in hockey with what we know about concussions and although this is a fair stance to take, the fights are almost inevitable in a rivalry with the amount of hatred between teams that this one has. This was the craziness that ensued last time these teams met:

Anyways, for most fans, it’s not necessarily the actual fighting that makes these games so intriguing, but the pure passion and intensity that we see on display. Not to mention the fact that these teams are very close in the standings, so the games are meaningful and more often than not end up being very close battles. That’s why whether you’re a brand new fan of the game or a long time supporter, you have to be cheering for a first round playoff matchup between Calgary and Edmonton this year. It’s not just Canadians who want to see it happen, it’s the hockey world as a collective. Love it or hate it, the Battle of Alberta is great for the game and has produced some of the most highlight-worthy hockey this year, and for that reason, it’s been the most exciting storyline of the season so far. 

Number 2 – The Canucks at the top of the Pacific division

Although the Pacific division race is still super close, the Canucks have been hanging on to first place for a while now, much to the surprise of many people around the league. They’ve been able to do it with the help of solid performances from newcomers like J.T. Miller, an awesome rookie year from Quinn Hughes, and fantastic goaltending from both Jacob Markstrom and Thatcher Demko. On top of that, young stars Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser have continued their success from previous campaigns. Although many people believe that the Canucks won’t hit their prime for a few years, this season’s squad is making fans believe that their return to postseason relevance is a lot closer than people thought, and that they may even be able to make a run this year. As they as they can get performances like this one last night from Markstrom, they’ll have a shot.

After their win over the Chicago Blackhawks last night and Edmonton’s loss in Tampa today, Vancouver will be 3 points clear of second in the division with 24 games left on the schedule. As close as the playoffs are beginning to feel, that’s a lot of games that have yet to be played, and spots in the postseason aren’t guaranteed yet. With any luck, the Canucks will do well in the last half of their six game home stand before hitting the road to play Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and Columbus. On paper, those are all teams they can beat, and if they were able to grab at least 5 points over those games at this point of the season, it would go a long way in protecting their division lead. For now though, Canucks fans will just have to wait and see if they really have a team to be excited about once again. 

Number 3 – The Toronto Maple Leafs are fighting for a playoff spot

Imagine paying four players a combined 40 million dollars per season when the league’s salary cap is $80 million. Usually that would mean you have stars right now, but it would also mean that you’re banking on your team to go on a run in the next few years. Of course, both are true for the Toronto Maple Leafs. They do have a star-studded lineup which includes William Nylander, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and John Tavares. They also have a good supporting cast of players such as Kasperi Kapenen, Morgan Reilly, Tyson Barrie, and goaltender Frederik Anderson. What’s unfortunate about the Leafs in this situation however, is that the playoffs are no guarantee. If you need a little refresher on this situation, check this video out first:

When you build such a talented roster, not making the playoffs is an absolute nightmare, especially when you’re playing in one of the most hockey crazed cities in the NHL. For the Leafs, the window is now. Any season that they don’t reach the Stanley Cup Finals can be looked at as a failure, because that is what this team is built to do. Although that seems like an awful lot of pressure for players to deal with, they made the big dollars for a reason, and now is the time to prove why it was the right call. The good thing about this situation for Toronto is that as long as they’re in the playoffs, the roster they have can give them a chance to win games. They’re famous for always losing to Boston in game seven of the first round of playoffs, but last year, that same Boston team that beat them came one win away from a Stanley Cup. So as tough as it’s been over the years for Leafs fans, there still has to be some hope for this year’s team to finally break through. Assuming they make it to the playoffs, that is. 

And there you have it. This NHL season has seen its fair share of ups and downs, but as playoffs loom, it’s an exciting time to be a fan in Canada. So let’s hope for that Battle of Alberta, hope the Canucks hang on to first, and let’s hope Toronto – never mind. 

The Sedins’ Jerseys are Officially Retired

Whether you’re an old fan of the Vancouver Canucks or someone just starting to watch the team, there are two names that you must be familiar with. These are the names of two guys that will go down in Canucks history for their outstanding accomplishments on and off the ice. They’re the names of two players that will be remembered for their dedication to the game, their sportsmanship, and a chemistry unlike anything the NHL has ever seen. Of course, I’m talking about Henrik and Daniel Sedin. Personally, it wasn’t until they retired that I had ever cheered for a Canucks team without the twins, and seeing them leave the game definitely felt like I was watching a piece of my childhood go as well. Now, they’re back in Rogers Arena this week and being celebrated by the city of Vancouver one last time before their jerseys are hung in the rafters forever. It’s only fitting that numbers 22 and 33 will remain side by side in Canucks colours for as long as the team exists, and as all the thanks and praise for the twins rolls in this week, I think this Budweiser video sums up exactly what they meant to the city of Vancouver: 

 

As for the current Canucks team, Sedin week couldn’t have come at a better time. After losing four straight games, they fed off the energy of the crowd and the moment of ‘Legends Night’ on Monday evening and got off to a 3-0 lead in the first period. When the final buzzer sounded, the Canucks, who wearing their fan favourite old school alternates, were winners of a 6-2 game. Clearly, the spark from the first night of Sedin week was something that the fans and players both needed, and will look to be built on for tonight’s game against Chicago. To be honest, this shouldn’t be hard to do, as tonight is the night that the twins’ jerseys will be officially retired. We should fully expect to see a rocking crowd, and in any game like this, the home team is always the favourite. Even in retirement, it seems as if the twins are helping push the Canucks into the playoffs. 

To me, it’s crazy to think that this is it. Even though they retired a few years, you always knew that we’d see them one more time being honoured at Rogers Arena for this special occasion. You always knew how big of a moment it would be for Vancouver, even if half the people in the arena still can’t tell the difference between the two of them. So on their special night, I think it’s time for us to look back on their extraordinary careers and remember how lucky we were to cheer them on for as long as we did, as well as enjoy the celebration and Kevin Bieksa’s roasts.

On June 26, 1999, the Vancouver Canucks drafted Henrik and Daniel with the second and third overall picks in the NHL entry draft. As you may think, it’s never easy to secure two of the top three draft picks of any year, but with some hard work from general manager Brian Burke, the franchise had their guys. As with any high draft picks in a Canadian NHL market, the twins came to Vancouver under a ton of pressure to produce for the team. Although there wasn’t a ton of immediate success for the Swedish duo, the twins really hit their stride in the 2005 season after the lockout. In that season and the next six, Henrik put up at least 70 points every year, while Daniel did it six out of seven times as well. 

When it was all said and done, the Sedins’ stats and awards did the talking. In the 2009/10 season, Henrik won the Art Ross trophy as the player with the highest amount of points in the NHL, as well as the Hart Memorial trophy for being the most valuable player to his team. He was also a two time winner of the King Clancy Memorial trophy. Meanwhile, Daniel took home the Art Ross trophy the year after Henrik, as well as the Ted Lindsay award for being voted as the league’s most outstanding player that same season. This was all done after the twins had already become Olympic gold medallists, a feat they achieved in 2006.

When it comes to career numbers, both have played more than 1000 games and have registered more than one thousand points for the Canucks. They’re the only people to have ever accomplished this in Vancouver. Henrik is the franchise leader in games played, assists, and points. Daniel is second behind Henrik in all of those categories, and is also the franchise’s all time leading goal scorer. However, it may not be the exact statistics that we remember most from the Sedins’ time in Vancouver, but the memories they gave us. Whether it was an unbelievable tic-tac toe goal, a no look pass from one brother to the other, or just another game winner, the Sedins did it all for us as fans. Here’s a look at some of the best plays of their career:

 

For myself, as well as most hockey fans and players from Vancouver that were born in my generation, the Sedins will always be the ones we grew up looking up to. They’ll always be the childhood heroes we cheered on every night while watching the Canucks games with our families. A Daniel Sedin jersey was the first jersey I ever owned, and I’m sure the same can be said for thousands of others out there. Although the Canucks never won the Stanley Cup with the Sedins, you can tell just how grateful the city is to have had the twins. As the next generation of Canucks stars grows older and attempts to do what the twins never could, you can only hope that they treat the game with the same love and respect that Henrik and Daniel did. If they do, maybe that would be my favourite Canucks moment of all time, but for now it’s this one:

 

I’ll always remember being huddled around a small T.V. in a university dorm room celebrating this goal with friends as if it was to take the Canucks back to the Stanley Cup Finals. It was the perfect ending to the careers of the two best Vancouver Canucks of all time.

Thanks for the memories, Henrik and Daniel.

B.C. Boy Nick Taylor Wins his Second PGA Event

This past weekend, we saw the PGA make its annual stop in Monterey, California for the Pebble Beach Pro/Am Event. The event is one of the more well known tournaments on the yearly schedule because of the prestige of the Pebble Beach golf course, as well as the participation in the tournament by a wide variety of famous amateurs. For example, this year we saw Clint Eastwood, Bill Murray, and Peyton Manning playing alongside the pros. When it came to the professional side of the tournament, it was none other than Abbotsford native Nick Taylor who ended up with the trophy on Sunday, capping off a terrific week with a wire to wire victory for his second PGA tour win. After shooting a terrific 63 on Thursday, Taylor never gave away his lead, and found a way to battle through some adversity as he closed it out yesterday. 

AP Photo/Eric Risberg

After Saturday’s round, Taylor held a one stroke lead over Phil Mickelson, who has 5 previous wins at Pebble Beach. Obviously, Sunday wasn’t going to be easy for Taylor with one of the best to ever play the game breathing down his neck at a course he’s dominated for years. Right out of the gates, Phil was -3 through 6 holes. However with an eagle on 6, Nick was -4, and had extended his lead to 2 strokes. Then, Taylor got a little lucky on 8 and 9 as Phil made a double bogey, and then another bogey. All of the sudden, they were separated by 5 shots with 9 holes to play. The wind was also picking up and the greens were drying out, meaning that the finishing holes would not be easy. With such a big lead, it’s hard to not let your mind wander a little and start imagining the feeling of hoisting up the trophy, but on the PGA tour, no lead is safe. 

From holes 10 to 14, a possible disastrous end to a fantastic week was becoming a possibility. Taylor made 2 bogeys and a double bogey, going +4 in 5 holes, which cut his lead back down to 2 with 4 holes to play. This was the make or break part of the round for Taylor. He was sliding back, and even though Phil wasn’t playing his best golf, Taylor had to know that he couldn’t open the door much more for Mickelson. On top of that, Kevin Streelman was a few holes ahead playing some very solid golf. So on 15, after a double bogey on the last hole, the Canadian found himself to the right of the green, needing to get his chip close to guarantee a par. Now if it’s me needing a par like this after making double bogey on the previous hole to save even $10 with my friends, I’d be a little nervous. If I multiply the importance of that moment by a million, I may be able to put myself in Nick Taylor’s shoes. And what does he do? Taylor chips in for birdie, giving himself a three stroke lead once again, and also giving himself the momentum to steer the ship right back on track. Two holes later, he hit maybe his best shot of the day on the par 3 17th, sticking it to inside 10 feet and making a birdie putt to basically cement the win for himself. 

The 31 year old Canadian didn’t necessarily have the prettiest Sunday, but sometimes you have to grind it out and win ugly. Sure, he got a little lucky that Phil didn’t have his best stuff on Sunday and that 4th place finisher Jason Day couldn’t make a putt inside 6 feet to save his life, but Taylor deserved the win. He became the first Canadian to win in wire-to-wire fashion (leading after every day) since 1960, and just the third to win multiple events on tour in the modern era. The tournament was also a big one for his career in terms of gaining confidence that he can do this type of thing again. His first win was 6 years ago in 2014, and sometimes after that much time between wins, the self doubt can creep in. This was also the first time Taylor had the lead after 3 rounds in a PGA event. Knowing that he has the nerves to hang in there and get the job done when all the eyes are on him will be huge for his future on the tour. 

Of course, besides being part of an exclusive group of Canadian golfers and boosting his confidence, this win will give the B.C. boy some other nice bonuses as well. First of all, a pretty nice trophy and cheque for 1.4 million USD will be coming his way. Next, an exemption to both the Masters and PGA Championship, two of the four major tournaments on the PGA tour. This year will be his first trip to the Masters tournament, where he’ll join fellow Canadians Mike Weir, Corey Connors, and Adam Hadwin. Finally, every win on tour guarantees more years of playing on tour, so even if he goes through a rough patch, Taylor won’t be worrying about keeping his playing status. 

This was a big win for Canadian golf as a whole, because it doesn’t happen that often that someone from the great white north gets it done on the PGA. However, with Taylor’s win this weekend and Adam Hadwin’s participation in the President’s Cup last November, the Canadian golf scene continues to improve. Also, if you’re looking to keep your eyes on the country’s best, make sure to keep tabs on Brooke Henderson. The 22 year old has won 9 times on the LPGA, including a a major championship that she won when she was only 18, which made her the youngest ever to win that event. She’s a three time Canadian Press athlete of the year award winner, and with one more win, Henderson will become the winningest professional golfer from Canada of all time. 

Why Vancouver Golfers Hate February

As someone who enjoys getting out to the golf course as much as possible in the warmer Vancouver weather, I can tell you with no hesitation that February sucks. In fact, it sucks so much that it’s undoubtedly my least favourite month of the year. Yea, November isn’t great either, but I’ll give you the full breakdown of my month rankings some other time. This is just about February, from the perspective of a golfer in Vancouver. 

First of all, the PGA tour events start getting interesting. With tournaments like the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Genesis Invitational, and World Golf Championships in Mexico, all of your favourite tour players are starting to play more and more again, and in some great weather too. Watching this on T.V. or seeing it on social media will automatically make you start thinking about getting the clubs out for the new season, and that’s when the reality of February in Vancouver hits. If it’s raining, you’re probably not heading to the course. If it’s cloudy, it’s probably cold, and you’re not heading to the course. If it’s sunny, it’s probably still not very warm and you don’t want to be outside for too long. Therefore, you don’t head to the course. Even if it’s warm, it was probably raining recently and the course is too wet to enjoy playing. So you stay inside, hoping tomorrow might be different.

However, there are those rare streaks in February where it stays sunny for a while. You wake up on a weekend one day, and as the morning turns to afternoon, it’s sunny and warm enough for you to actually get out and play. You text the guys, and they’re all in – finally! Sadly, by the time you get your group together, reality sets in and you realize it’s too late to play a full round before the sun goes down. February really is a tough month for golfers, and if you’re not willing to grind it out in the cold weather or subpar conditions, it’s a month that you spend most of the time inside, wishing for longer days and higher temperatures. It’s so much worse than the other cold months because it teases the good weather just enough for you to start thinking about playing, yet you rarely ever do. If you’re not into the sport, I envy you, because even though it’s the shortest month of the year, February always feels the longest to me. 

14 Straight Wins for the Raptors

Canada’s team has now won fourteen straight games and is showing no signs of slowing down. Over the last month, we’ve seen the Toronto Raptors escape games by the skin of their teeth, and then go on to dominate in the next game. Last night was no easy task, as they took a 12 point lead against the Brooklyn Nets into the 4th quarter before only beating them by one. After starting out the season a little flat, the defending champions now hold one of the best records in the league and sit at second place in the eastern conference. Even after losing superstar forward Kawhi Leonard, the Raps have been able to get it done with Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry leading a deep roster of solid NBA players, as well as some surprisingly good play from younger guys such as Terence Davis. What’s also exciting is that the team will play 5 of their next 6 games at home, giving them a decent chance to get the win streak to 20 games. 

Although it looks like the Milwaukee Bucks will be the first seed in the East, if Toronto can get the second seed, they’ll have a decent chance to make a playoff run and attempt to defend their title. Because there are 6 teams in the conference that are considerably better than the rest, finishing second as opposed to third will give them a much easier first round opponent in the playoffs. If they cannot secure a top 2 seed, they’ll be in a tough series against the Pacers, 76ers, Heat, or even Celtics possibly. In other words, as good as this run has been for them, there won’t be much time to enjoy it. 

The Canucks Have Lost 3 Straight, but it’s O.K.

After winning 7 out of 8 contests, the Vancouver Canucks have finished their 5 game road trip with three straight losses. After picking up a single point in a shootout loss to Carolina, the last two games were especially tough for the Canucks. First, we saw them fall to the Boston Bruins 4-0 and lose Elias Pettersson to a day to day injury. Then just yesterday, they gave up 3 first period goals to the Minnesota Wild and were never able to catch back up, eventually falling 4-2. Consecutive losses are part of every team’s NHL season, but it’s all about how you respond, and not letting the losses snowball past 3 or 4 games is very important. Fortunately for Vancouver, they’ve been great at home this year and find themselves up against the Flames in Rogers Arena for a huge divisional tilt on Saturday night. This is a game that could give them a ton of momentum and get the ship right back on track.

Additionally, the hometown team got a little lucky while they were losing games and still find themselves at the top of the division. The rival Oilers have lost 2 straight, including a game where they blew an early lead to the Sharks, while the Flames have lost 4 of their last 5. Now, the Canucks have a 6 game home stand, and 4 of their 6 games are against non-playoff teams. If there was any time for them to make a statement and take more control of the Pacific division, the time is right now. With how close the Pacific is, these games could seriously be the difference between a top seed and a wild card spot. It’s that time of the year where every game matters, and hopefully the Canucks can step up to the challenge and put themselves in a great position for the home stretch. 

Is Alex Ovechkin the Best Scorer of All Time?

Over the span of his career, Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin has continually dropped the jaws of hockey fans everywhere. Ever since he entered the league in 2005, his knack for scoring goals was the thing that most people knew him for. In his rookie year, he scored 52 goals and had 54 assists for 106 points. 2 years after that, he put up career numbers with 65 goals and 112 points. Now, more than 10 years later, he’s proving that he’s still got it. 6 times in the last 7 years he’s led the league in goal scoring, giving him 8 career scoring titles in the NHL. He’s a 34 year old veteran who still enjoys scoring more than anyone on the ice, and he’s also rewriting the record books and making his way into the top scorers of all time while he’s at it.  Check out Sportnet’s top 10 Alex Ovechkin plays below:

Even though everyone has always known how great of a scorer Ovechkin is, it wasn’t until fairly recently that people started believing he could possibly break Wayne Gretzky’s all time goal list. There are many reasons that people wouldn’t take this idea seriously, one of which being that it’s much harder to score in this era of the NHL. Gretzky is still the undisputed greatest of all time, but with the speed of the game and the change in goalie style and equipment, what the Capitals’ captain has been able to do over the course of his career is remarkable. He’s now in the top 10 all time for goals scored, already has 40 this year, and is showing no signs of slowing down. He’s also less than 200 goals away from the record. Although his overall points total will never come close to Gretzky’s, he certainly has put himself in the forefront of the conversation for best natural goal scorer ever, and watching him chase down a record that many thought may never be broken will be as entertaining as everything else he’s done in his career so far.

Athletes Responding to Hate on Twitter

Whether you love it or you hate it, social media has been giving everyone that has access to the internet a unique opportunity and platform to say whatever they want for some time now. It also gives us regular folk a chance to criticize or complain about famous musicians, actors, and most often, athletes. Although most people don’t use social media in this manner, there are definitely still a fair amount of faceless accounts out there that do. Now, most of the time, these types of comments are never reacted to or even seen by the target, but every once in a while, they are. What usually happens next is maybe the most entertaining thing to see on Twitter – the confrontation between superstar athlete and average joe. 

the type of account that always seems to be doing the most trash talk usually looks like this.

Let’s be honest, when it comes to 99 percent of the population, we’re all pretty average. Yet somehow professional athletes, the ones who aren’t average, are berated on Twitter every day by the same people sitting on their couches watching the games. Just yesterday, a twitter user tweeted out that he could “easily take down” Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen due to his smaller stature. This wasn’t even talking about Cohen’s play on the field, it was simply a jab at his height and questioning if he should be in the league, while bragging about his own abilities as well. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be able to do this, but if you do, you deserve whatever might come next for calling out a professional athlete. Soon after, Cohen responded to the tweet and it ended up on a lot of people’s radars. Almost every retweet and comment was coming to the defence of Cohen, and humbling the original poster for such ridiculous and simply untrue comments.

This isn’t the first or last time a professional athlete will respond to negativity on social media, this is simply the most recent case. If you ask me, it should only happen more. So often, people think that they can hide behind keyboards and say whatever they want about others because they’re protected by anonymity. However, when the person you’re trash talking calls you out on it, you usually become the butt of the joke for a while and hopefully think twice before tweeting out something else like that. So please athletes, keep exposing the frauds for the entertainment of the rest of us. 

Antonio Brown has Apologized

Over the past year, it seems like Antonio Brown has done everything except play football. Whether it was requesting a trade from Pittsburgh and calling out old teammates, refusing to practice because the NFL wouldn’t let him use his old helmet, or asking for a release via social media from a team he hadn’t played a game for yet, Brown was always in the news for the wrong reasons. Seriously, if you follow the NFL at all, it seemed like once a week there was a wacky new story about him coming out, or a twitter rant from the man himself. With everything that went on this past year, it’s easy to forget that he actually did play a game this season for the New England Patriots, in which he caught four balls for 54 yards and a touchdown. Now, that seems like forever ago, and many believe it to be the last we’ll see of him on an NFL field. Watch the whole timeline of events from last September below. 

At first, people believed that he just wanted out of Pittsburgh. We figured that he was done with the organization and saw that it was probably going in another direction anyways. Then, he got off to a rocky start in Oakland. Although this raised some eyebrows, it wasn’t until he was being continuously fined for missing mandatory meetings and walkthroughs that people were really getting concerned. Just days after he lost his privilege to guaranteed money, he requested a release from the team on an instagram story. Although he was picked up by the Patriots just days later, that relationship only got him one game with the team, and he hasn’t played since. More recently, it’s gotten worse for Brown, as he was arrested for a slew of charges including felony burglary. 

Fast forward to last week, where ESPN released an interview with Brown. In it, the former all-pro expressed regret for his actions, and said that he owes the NFL an apology. He also said that he thought he could have “handled many things a lot better”. The problem though, is that the damage may already be done. Even with an apology now, it could very well become a case of too little, too late. It seems that even if Brown continues to try and prove that he can be a reliable professional again, no general manager will want to take the risk. It really is a shame that a potential Hall of Fame career could end in this way. As much as you’d love to see a comeback story, the main hope here is that Brown can get his mind clear again and get himself back on track, and maybe one day, we can see him suiting up on Sundays once more. As for his career,  I don’t think one sit down interview and apology with ESPN is nearly enough for him to get another job, but it’s undoubtedly a step in the right direction. 

Patrick Mahomes is About to get PAID

At 24 years old, Patrick Mahomes has already done what few others have ever accomplished. He’s a Super Bowl champion, a Super Bowl MVP, a regular season MVP award winner, a first team all-pro and a pro bowler. Now, it’s his time to break Russell Wilson’s record and become the highest paid player in NFL history. Last offseason, Wilson signed a 4 year, $140 million dollar contract with a signing bonus of $65 million. Early estimates and speculation from experts are calling for Mahomes to sign something worth over $150 million, and in comparison to what other guys are making, he’s worth it. 

Over the last 2 seasons, Mahomes has been balling on a rookie contract worth less than a million dollars per year. In the first of those years, he won MVP and led the Chiefs to overtime in the AFC Championship. Of course this year, he upped the ante and won the Super Bowl. Although you could argue that no professional athlete should be worth the amount of money Mahomes is likely to sign for in the coming months, these pay days are just the reality of the league today. At 24, Mahomes is still very young. He hasn’t run into many injury problems and has proven himself on the game’s biggest stage. There’s also a lot of talent around him on the Chiefs, and the team could very well be competing in more Super Bowls in the next few years. So, if you’re the general manager of Kansas City, paying Patrick Mahomes isn’t really even an option at this point, it’s just something that needs to happen. So, congratulations in advance to Patrick Mahomes on that pay-day, because it’s going to be as life-changing as winning the Super Bowl was.

The Chiefs are Super Bowl Champions

If there’s one thing that the Kansas City Chiefs did consistently on their way to a Super Bowl Championship, it was stress their fans out. In all three playoff games, the Chiefs were down by at least 10 points, and were forced to claw themselves back. In the first two contests against the Texans and Titans, they were down early in the game, and you still had a feeling that they would come back and at least make the game close. Yesterday had a slightly different feeling, especially after a 4th quarter throw from Patrick Mahomes deflected off Tyreek Hill’s hands and into the arms of a 49ers defensive player as Kansas City was driving into the red zone. 

The score was 20-10, there was 12 minutes left, and San Fransisco had the ball. If you’ve watched any 49ers games this year, you’d know how dominant their running game has been all season. So you’d think that they’d just run the ball and bleed the clock for a while, right? Surprisingly, that’s not how it happened. In fact, the 49ers held the ball for only 3 minutes before punting it back to Kansas City. In just 10 plays, the Chiefs marched down the field, and all of the sudden it was a game again. A few minutes later, they would score another touchdown to take the lead and never give it back, ending in the franchise’s first Super Bowl win in 50 years. 

Although the game was going well for San Fransisco for most of the night, the last ten minutes showed us the difference in these 2 quarterbacks, and how Jimmy Garropolo simply couldn’t hang around with Patrick Mahomes. When the Chiefs were in trouble and needing a score, it was Mahomes who got it done. The best example of this was a 44 yard pass to Tyreek Hill on 3rd and 15 when they were still down 10. The team’s classic big pass offence had been practically invisible all day, but when the game was on the line, Mahomes completed the longest completion of the day to his superstar wideout. When the 49ers got the ball and needed to complete big passes, Garropolo just wasn’t able to get the offence moving. In the fourth quarter, they ran just 16 plays opposed to Kansas City’s 36. San Fransisco had relied heavily on their run game all year, and their lack of a passing game ending up coming back to hurt them in the biggest game of the year. 

Lastly, I would feel bad if I failed to mention the play of Chiefs running back Damien Williams. The run game was being used more often than usual by Kansas City, and they were able to stick to it because of Williams. He carried the ball 17 times, which was a number he’d reached in only 2 other games this year. After scoring the go-ahead touchdown with just over 2 minutes left, he got to put the game on ice with a 38-yard touchdown run after the 49ers turned the ball over. Williams ended up with 104 yards on the ground, his third highest output for the year. Although Mahomes winning MVP made sense, Damien Williams would have been an equally deserving recipient. 

And so ends another great NFL season. Enjoy the win while you can Kansas City, because next year that Lombardi trophy is coming back to Seattle. 

Parties on the Golf Course?

This weekend, the PGA stops in Scottsdale, Arizona for the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Although the tournament is hardly in the prime stretch of the season, it’s still one of the PGA’s most entertaining watches, largely due to the craziness of the 16th hole. Nicknamed the “stadium hole”, it is the only hole in golf where fans are allowed and even encouraged to be loud and boisterous during their shots. As you probably know, golf is often seen as a very serious and respectful sport, but the craziness of the 16th at TPC Scottsdale reflects something different about golf fans, and it’s a great representation for the game. There’s really nothing quite like it. 

As seen in this video with last year’s winner Rickie Fowler, the players being able to interact more with the fans ends up in a much more exciting product for everyone involved. Besides after winning tournaments, there aren’t a lot of other opportunities for crowds to get this into the game. This year we also saw Tony Finau wear a Lakers jersey to honour the late Kobe Bryant, which is a great gesture by him and also lets a player show a bit more of his personality. Too often in golf we don’t see enough of this kind of thing because of all the etiquette that comes with the game. This certainly isn’t a bad thing, but it is nice to see another side of these players during tournament play. 

Another cool thing that only happens at the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale is that players are boo’d by fans for missing the green. If this were to happen at any other tournament in the year, it would be looked at as very disrespectful, but because of the nature of this tournament, players take it in stride like any other athlete would have to do after receiving boos. The overall party atmosphere of the stadium hole is the reason why people line up at the gates for this event at 4am, have a great time all day, and usually end up with a strained voice at the end of the event. It’s a great way for fans to have fun at a tournament and it’s also great for the PGA because of how fun it looks. You wouldn’t have to be a golf fan to enjoy a day at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and I think other tournaments should strive to be able to say the same. Without a doubt, the stadium hole is the funnest hole in golf. 

Super Bowl Sunday

Once again, its Super Bowl weekend. Every year, the biggest sporting event in North America is watched by millions of people, some of whom know what’s happening, and some who don’t. Whether you’re a football expert or not, watching the Super Bowl is meant to be a fun and full day experience. It’s the one game where you can pay attention to commercials and bet on the length of the national anthem. It’s a day where the half-time show will be talked about just as much as the actual game in some circles. But to have the best experience, there are some things that you need to have at your Super Bowl party. 

First of all, its a day for friends. Yes, there’s nothing wrong with watching it solo, but the experience is undoubtedly enhanced when you’re around other people. Whether it’s an outrageous commercial with your favourite celebrity or a jaw dropping play in the 4th quarter, watching this event with a group makes everything more exciting.

Secondly, it’s a day for food, and a lot of it. Stats say that during the Super Bowl on Sunday, 1.6 billion chicken wings will be served. Beyond that, you’ll probably see nachos, pizza, chips, and any other number of awesome appetizers you could think of. If you’re on a diet, you should seriously consider making Super Bowl Sunday a cheat day. If you’re having people over, make sure everyone brings some food to give you all plenty of options to dig in to.

Lastly, for football fans, it’s the last game you’ll watch until the new season begins next September. So whether you’re a fan of either team or not, try to enjoy the game all you can while it lasts because as soon as it’s over, you’ll be seriously deprived of NFL football for a few months. Hopefully you’re cheering for the Chiefs too, otherwise you might not have as great a time. 

Could Quinn Hughes Win the Calder?

Even though the Canucks haven’t won much in the past few years as a team, us fans have still been a little spoiled in other areas. In 2017, Brock Boeser came onto the scene and had 55 points in 62 games. He also went to the All-Star game that year and won the most valuable player award at the event. Last year, it was Elias Pettersson’s turn to put on a show for Canuck fans. In his first year, the young Swede became a fan favourite, led the team with 66 points, made the All-Star game, and the Calder trophy won rookie of the year. Fast forward to right now, and we’ve seen Quinn Hughes turn into Vancouver’s number one defensemen, get props from Wayne Gretzky at the all-star game, and lead all rookies in scoring. Just in case you didn’t fully understand how rare this sort of rookie dominance is, it was recently reported that Vancouver is the first team ever to have a first year player make the All-Star game in 3 straight seasons. 

With all this success from their young players, it becomes a little easier to see how the Canucks are surprising a lot of people at the top of their division this year. However, even with the talent beginning to grow over the years, it’s been the arrival of Quinn Hughes that has taken the Canucks to the next level. This year, the 20 year old is averaging over 21 minutes of ice per game, getting time on the first power play unit, and is far and away the highest point producer on Vancouver’s blue line. With what he’s accomplishing this year, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to call him one of the Canucks’ most valuable players.

Earlier this year, Hughes was being slightly overlooked in the Calder conversation because of the stellar play of Colorado’s Cale Makar.  In his first 23 games, Makar had already racked up 7 goals and 18 assists, for an average of more than a point per game. Although Hughes was still playing well, people were already viewing Makar as the best rookie in the league, and for good reason. But on December 7th in Boston, he got hurt, and by no fault of his own slightly opened the door for another rookie to make a move. That rookie was Quinn Hughes. A little more than a month later, it was Hughes who went to the All-Star game, not Makar. Today, it was Hughes who scored two goals in New York (including the OT winner) to give himself the lead in league wide rookie scoring. With all this in mind, I think it’s officially time we start seeing this as a two horse race, because Quinn Hughes is making quite the argument. 

The Year to hit the Mountains!

Do you find yourself looking for something to do in these gloomy winter months? Are you an active person that’s sick of the rain? If so, it might be time to hit the ski mountains this year. Whether you’re new to it or a veteran, young or old, athletic or not so much, the mountains can be a great day full of activity for anyone who goes up. Even if you’re not a huge fan of skiing or snowboarding, our 3 local mountains offer snow tubing and snowshoeing tours as well, which can be great options for bigger groups of families looking to try something new. 

As someone who only got into skiing a few years ago, there are so many reasons that I’m happy I did. First of all, it’s a lot of fun and was pretty easy to get comfortable with. Sure, you might wipe out a few times on your first few runs, but after that, you’ll find it gets a lot easier. Going up to the mountains is also usually a full day of sport with friends or family where there’s no competition and no stress. You can go at your own pace, stop to enjoy the beautiful views of Vancouver, and even spend some time in the bars or restaurants at lunch. One of the reasons it took me so long to get into skiing was that I don’t like being cold, but if you’re up there with a winter coat on a nice day, the last thing you’ll be worrying about is the temperature.

Another reason I now love to ski is because I see it as something that I can do with friends and family for a long time. Whether it’s ski trips on winter breaks, enjoying the odd day here and there each year, or even bringing my family up when I’m able to in the future, skiing is one of the ways I want to stay active as I grow older. 

So just as I was talked into going up a few years ago, I want to try and talk others into it now because with 3 mountains so close to us in Vancouver, why not? It’s a perfect way to let off some steam and enjoy nature for a day. If you’ve been contemplating it for the last few years, make sure this is the year that you grab some friends and head up to the mountains before the season ends!

Russell Wilson Finally Wants a Supporting Cast

Earlier this week, you may have heard that Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks made it apparent to management that he wants more stars in Seattle next year. For the first time in a while, the franchise will have quite a bit of money to work with during the offseason, and for a team that made it to the divisional round of the playoffs this year, adding one or two more big names might be what they need to get back to the Super Bowl. The first order of business should be resigning defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who played a very important role in his first season in Seattle’s blue and green. After that, general manager John Schneider needs to give Wilson exactly what he wants – stars. 

The main concern from Seattle fans over the last few years is that they haven’t taken full advantage of their future hall of fame quarterback’s prime years. Sure, they went to back to back Super Bowls in 2013 and 2014 when Wilson was still young, but these last few seasons there has been much less support for him, starting with the offensive line. Since Russ entered the league, he’s the only quarterback to face pressure on more than 40% of his dropbacks. Additionally, this season he saw pressure after 2.5 seconds on 26.7% of his dropbacks, which was only better than the bottom feeding Jets and Dolphins. Clearly, Russ needs a more competent offensive line, and he deserves one after years of running away from defensive lines and creating plays by himself. 

After the offensive line has been helped, you would hope that Schneider thinks about adding one more big name player to the defensive secondary. This year, the defence as a whole struggled, with their pass defence ranking 27th in the league. However, with linebackers like Bobby Wagner and KJ Wright, Clowney on the line, and a blossoming Shaquill Griffin at cornerback, they already have some important pieces in place. Quandre Diggs also showed promise at safety, so it’s not a stretch to think that if they can stay healthy next year, Seattle’s defence may only be one or two new faces away from a much more successful season. 

Even with the discouraging exit from the playoffs this year and the looming fact that Wilson is only getting older, us Seahawks fans have things to be excited for. Rookie wide receiver DK Metcalf could end up being a legitimate star in the league, running backs Rashaad Penny and Chris Carson could turn into a threatening backfield, and Russ wants to win now. Usually, when your franchise quarterback makes a request, it’s a good idea to listen up. So here’s to hoping that the Seahawks do exactly that, and make a few more great playoff runs in the 2020’s. 

Exciting Times for Canadian NHL Teams

If you were watching a Canadian hockey team last night, chances are you had yourself a very entertaining Wednesday night. In the first game, the Toronto Maple Leafs won a big contest in Dallas by a score of 5-3. Four Leafs had two points on the night, including Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews. Another game featuring a Canadian team was played in San Jose, as the Canucks rallied in the third period to win 5-2. In the second period, Quinn Hughes scored the first road goal of his career with a rocket from the blue line, and Jacob Markstrom made a highlight reel save late in the same period to keep the team within striking distance. In the third, they looked like a different team and got a big win against the division rival Sharks to stay atop of the Pacific. 

While these games were going on however, most of the hockey world had their eyes on the Battle of Alberta. If you weren’t watching this highly anticipated matchup between the Oilers and Flames, it’s safe to say you missed out. Given the bad blood between these teams and the events that went on the last time they played, an aggressive and passionate tilt was fully expected. Although the first period started off a little tame, things eventually heated up as Edmonton’s Ryan-Nugent Hopkins and Calgary’s Sean Monahan uncharacteristically dropped the gloves. 24 seconds later, everyone got what they were waiting for as Zack Kassian and Matt Tkachuk went at it. Besides the rough parts that everyone was excitedly waiting for, the actual game ended up being a great one. Matt Benning scored his first of the year for Edmonton to tie the game in the third period, and the teams stayed deadlocked through regulation and overtime, forcing a shootout. Calgary ended up clinching the game with a save from goaltender David Rittich, who then flipped his stick in the air like a baseball player who just hit a home run. This last act of celebration solidified the fact that this rivalry is as good and nasty as it’s been in a long time, and as hockey fans, we should be very excited about the very real possibility of a playoff series between them. 

Right now, 5 of the 7 Canadian teams are in a playoff spot or very close to one, which is a great thing for hockey in Canada. Although the NHL will always be the most popular league in our country, it’s always nice to see our teams having more success. Last year, only 3 Canadian teams made playoffs, and the year before that, there was only 2. It obviously helps that the most intriguing matchup of the regular season so far has been between two Canadian teams, but it’s very exciting to see Canada at the forefront of the NHL where it belongs.

Are the Maple Leafs Missing the Playoffs?

This NHL season has been a rollercoaster for the Toronto Maple Leafs. On paper, they look like they should be one of the best teams in the league, but they’re not even in a playoff spot right now. As of January 29th, they have a record of 26-17-7 and are only 2 points out of the picture. They could easily play themselves back in, but it won’t be easy. 

One of the issues Toronto faces is keeping the puck out of their net. So far this year, they’re in the bottom 5 in terms of goals allowed, but tied for second in goals for. As you probably know, games get more important and teams tighten up defensively down the stretch, and this makes scoring lots of goals in order to win games increasingly difficult. It’s not like they don’t have the personnel to make a change either. Tyson Barrie and Morgan Reilly lead a pretty decent defensive corps, and Frederik Anderson has proven in the past that he can be a competent NHL starter in net. The problem is, he’s not really playing like it this year. So far this season, his goals against average is higher than it’s ever been, and his save percentage is seven points lower than his career average. For the Leafs to be a legitimate playoff team they’ll need him to play better, because they don’t really have an option at the backup position.

The other big issue facing the Leafs is the level of competition in the Eastern conference and in the Atlantic division as well. Sure, if the Leafs were in the same division as the our hometown Canucks team they’d be looking a lot better, but with powerhouses like Boston and Tampa Bay in your division, there’s much less breathing room. Not to mention the other Eastern division, the Metropolitan is just as good or better, which means grabbing wild card spots is very competitive. The top 3 teams in this division are Washington, Pittsburgh and New York, but Columbus, Carolina and Philadelphia are all right there as well.

Although the Leafs will have to be very good in the last few months of the season, I still believe they’ll be in the playoffs. Over the next 30 games, you have to like their chances of being able to gain a few points on the Blue Jackets, Flyers, or even Panthers with everyone in their lineup. Times like this are the exact reason why Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and John Tavares signed such big contracts, so they’ll be eager to prove themselves as well. After that, no one can say for sure what will happen because as we know, the NHL playoffs is never a predictable few months. One thing is for sure though, the Leafs need to start playing like every game is a playoff game, or they might not get to play one for real this year.