Colorado Avalanche star Cale Makar has been suspended one game by the NHL following a hearing on Tuesday. Makar’s suspension stems from a hit he made on Seattle Kraken forward Jared McCann in Game 4.
Makar’s hit took place halfway through the opening period of Monday’s game, when McCann was stopped on a breakaway attempt. When McCann was in the corner following the play, Makar delivered an extremely physical hit on him up against the boards:
Makar’s called for a major, but after review it’s reduced to a minor for interference pic.twitter.com/VqtkQGP58n
— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) April 25, 2023 McCann was hurt on the play and didn’t return to Monday’s contest. Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol has already announced that McCann has been ruled out for Game 5.
“Late hit. Really late. No puck in play. Our 40-goal scorer not available for the rest of the game,” Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol said following Game 4, according to SportsNet. “I disagree with (the penalty call), obviously, as I assessed it and looked at it live and for sure looking at it after on video.”
Makar was initially given a five-minute major penalty for interference, but following a review, the call was reduced to a two-minute minor.
“I didn’t feel like I tried to finish him that far,” Makar said. “I feel like if I was in that scenario they would have done the exact same thing. I’m not trying to hurt anybody.”
McCann led Seattle with 70 points this season, including a career-high 40 goals. Even without McCann in the lineup, the Kraken were able to come away with a 3-2 overtime win in Game 4 to even the series at two games apiece.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are an Original Six franchise that have enjoyed an immense amount of success throughout their history. They’ve won a whopping 13 Stanley Cup championships.
But lately, they haven’t come anywhere close to reaching the mountaintop of the sport. It’s actually been the exact opposite.
The Maple Leafs have made first-round exits in each of the last six Stanley Cup Playoffs. They haven’t won a playoff series since the 2003-04 season, when they reached the Eastern Conference semifinals. Taking the postseason struggles of the last two decades into account makes Thursday’s Game 5 a must-win situation for the Maple Leafs against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
It’s all because of how all too familiar they are with the Lightning.
In the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Maple Leafs held a 3-2 series lead before the Lightning won the final two games to take the series, which included a close 2-1 result in Game 7. Entering Thursday night’s Game 5, the Maple Leafs have all of the momentum. They erased a 4-1 third-period deficit and Alexander Kerfoot tipped home the game-winning goal just 4:14 into overtime to clinch a 5-4 win in Game 4.
The Maple Leafs can’t afford to take the Lightning lightly and need to deliver the knockout blow in Game 5. The Lightning have been to the past three Stanley Cup Finals and have won two of them. They’re a veteran team that has been in these types of situations before.
To paint a clear picture of why Toronto needs to end this series as soon as possible, let’s take a look back at how the Maple Leafs’ playoff woes have played out of late — starting with what happened six seasons ago.
2017: Eliminated by Capitals in first round The Washington Capitals won the Presidents’ Trophy during the 2016-17 season and were the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Despite being the second Wild Card team in the East, the Maple Leafs actually held a 2-1 series lead after Tyler Bozak scored the game-winning goal in overtime to put Toronto up in the series. But that was the last time that the Maple Leafs would taste victory in the series. The Capitals won the next three games. Marcus Johansson eliminated the Maple Leafs 6:31 into the overtime period as he scored his second goal of the contest in Game 6. Every game in the series was decided by a single goal and it was just the third series in NHL history in which five games went to overtime.
2018: Eliminated by Bruins in first round Much like the 2023 postseason, the Maple Leafs found themselves in a 2-3 matchup against the Boston Bruins. The Bruins dominated the Maple Leafs in the opening two games of the series as they outscored Toronto, 12-4. Boston went up 3-1 before the Maple Leafs came roaring back thanks to strong performances from goaltender Frederik Andersen, who recorded 74 saves in Games 5 and 6 to help even the series. In Game 7, the Maple Leafs held a 4-3 lead heading into the third period. Then the Bruins scored four unanswered goals in the final 20 minutes to win, 7-4.
2019: Eliminated by Bruins in first round Just one year later, the Maple Leafs took on the Bruins in the opening round of the postseason yet again. The Maple Leafs had finished third in the Atlantic Division and lost to the Bruins in three of their four regular-season meetings. Still, the teams were evenly matched throughout the first five games of their opening-round series. But after alternating the first four games, the Bruins outscored the Maple Leafs, 9-3, over the final two of the series to eliminate Toronto for the second consecutive campaign. Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask stopped 32 of the 33 shots that he faced in Game 7 and Boston earned a convincing 5-1 victory.
2020: Eliminated by Blue Jackets in qualifying round The 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs had a strange configuration that was brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, which heavily affected the NHL’s regular season and postseason schedules. When the regular season was cut short, Toronto found themselves matched up with the Columbus Blue Jackets in the qualifying round. The Maple Leafs were the No. 8 seed while the Blue Jackets were the No. 9 seed. The series started out with a pair of shutouts as Blue Jackets netminder Joonas Korpisalo had one in Game 1 and Andersen responded with one of his own in Game 2 to even the series. Eventually, Korpisalo ended up shutting down the Maple Leafs in Game 5 in a 3-0 triumph, which ended Toronto’s season.
2021: Eliminated by Canadiens in first round The 2021 season was shortened to just 56 regular season contests due to the residuals effects of the schedule being pushed back from the COVID-19 pandemic in the previous year. The Maple Leafs finished in first place in the North Division with 77 points while the Canadiens came in fourth place with just 59 points. After dropping Game 1, the Maple Leafs ripped off three consecutive victories and outscored the Canadiens 11-2 during those contests. The Canadiens rallied to win Games 5 and 6 in overtime to force a winner-take-all Game 7. Canadiens star goaltender Carey Price recorded 30 saves and completely shut down the Maple Leafs in a 3-1 win to take the series
During this six-year stretch we are highlights, this is probably the most deflating series loss for the Maple Leafs. .
2022: Eliminated by Lightning in first round The most recent playoff blunder came during the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs in a series that the Maple Leafs had every chance to win. They earned 115 points in the regular season, but the two teams did split their four regular season contests. Toronto opened the series fairly strong by winning two of the first three games, including a convincing 5-0 shutout in Game 1. After falling 7-3 in Game 4, the Maple Leafs rose to the occasion in Game 5 with a 4-3 victory on their home ice. Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Morgan Rielly tallied third-period goals to give Toronto a huge advantage in the series.
The Maple Leafs rallied back from a two-goal deficit in Game 6 to force overtime, but Brayden Point got the last laugh as he scored to force a Game 7. Despite playing at home, Lightning forward Nick Paul proved to be the star of the show as he scored both of his team’s goals in a 2-1 triumph. Following this loss, the Maple Leafs have now lost eight consecutive playoff. Can that drought end on Thursday night?
We’ve reached the slowest point on the NBA calendar, where news has come to a near standstill and everyone is counting down the days until training camp begins in September. However, with two major trade demands still hanging over the league and some unsigned free agents still on the market, there is still something to talk about.
Both James Harden and Damian Lillard remain unmoved after both requested trades from their current teams earlier this summer. And while nothing appears to be imminent, that hasn’t stopped the rumors from circulating. Here’s the latest on both stars situations, as well as another potential trade involving the Toronto Raptors.
Clippers, 76ers to reengage in Harden trade talks Harden’s been intent on getting out of Philadelphia and landing on his hometown Los Angeles Clippers team. The feeling is mutual for the Clippers, but the Sixers have been in no rush to trade their All-Star guard if the price isn’t right. After talks cooled off over the last month, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports that the two sides are expected to begin trade talks again involving the former league MVP. It’s unclear what Philadelphia could get in return for Harden, but when the two sides talked earlier about a trade package the Clippers were unwilling to give up younger players like Terance Mann or serious draft capital for the aging guard.
If the Clippers don’t want to give up too much for Harden, there’s the potential that this deal would need to include a third team to get the Sixers what they want in return for him. Multi-team deals are tricky, but if L.A. is really enamored with the idea of bringing Harden in, then it’s something that could happen.
Raptors turned down Hawks trade offer for Pascal Siakam Toronto has been in the midst of this will-they-won’t-they saga involving a rebuild for quite some time. They lost Fred VanVleet for nothing this summer, signaling that they could look to trade other core players like Siakam, OG Anunoby and Gary Trent Jr. However, we’re a little over a month from training camp and the Raptors have done nothing to suggest they’re going down the full fire sale path. But that doesn’t mean they’re not keeping their options open.
The Atlanta Hawks reportedly offered a trade package involving De’Andre Hunter, AJ Griffin and draft compensation to Toronto for Siakam, per Charania, but the Raptors keep increasing the asking price for the All-Star forward. Siakam enters the last year of his contract, and is extension eligible. But it’s been reported that he won’t sign an extension with any team that trades for him, and would instead become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Charania reports that talks between the Raptors and Hawks have been put on pause, and that despite Atlanta’s interest, Siakam could very well remain in Toronto through this season.
Trail Blazers no closer to trading Lillard Lillard is still adamant that he wants to play for the Miami Heat and no one else. The Blazers still don’t like what Miami has to offer, so for right now the two sides haven’t gotten any closer to a trade, per Charania. That could change as we get closer to training camp, because certainly no one wants to deal with the awkwardness of a trade demand, but for right now, Lillard is still a member of the Blazers. Perhaps the Heat can manage to get a third team involved to get the deal done, because it’s been clear that the Blazers have little interest in a package centered around Tyler Herro for their franchise centerpiece of over a decade.
Last month, Paul Pierce tried to argue once again that his NBA career was better than Dwyane Wade’s — a debate he has been trying to have since at least 2019. However, Wade said he is perfectly content with all the attention he is getting.
“Listen, rent is expensive in America, and I’m living rent free right now,” Wade said in an episode of the Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz. “So let him keep—I like living rent free.”
“Rent is expensive and I’m living rent free…it’s documented, I don’t need to say anything…I went and got my Avengers…”
@DwyaneWade finally responds to Paul Pierce’s comments on who in fact had the better career. 😂 #HeatCulture
— Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz (@LeBatardShow) August 8, 2023 Pierce, inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2021, won an NBA championship with the Boston Celtics in 2008 and was named the Finals MVP. The 10-time All-Star had a great career, but many feel that him saying he was better than Wade is quite the stretch.
Wade, who is set to be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Aug. 12, said he doesn’t feel the need to defend himself. He was a 13-time All-Star and won three NBA championships with the Miami Heat, but now he sees no point in arguing when he is not even playing anymore.
“It’s documented,” Wade said. “I don’t need to say anything. Everything is documented. So, I’ll let you guys go ahead and talk about all that stuff. It sounds better coming from y’all than me.”
“I’m done playing the game of basketball. I’m not comparing myself to someone who’s not playing the game, or who is playing the game.”
Pierce had made the argument that he could’ve had more achievements if he had had better teammates, such as the ones Wade had.
“Put Shaq (O’Neal) on my team. Put LeBron (James) and (Chris) Bosh with me. I’m not gonna win one?” Pierce said last month on an episode of Cam’Ron’s talkshow, It Is What It Is. “Put me, LeBron and Bosh… we not gonna win a couple?”
Wade said people were mad he was was able to get with his “Avengers” but pointed out that it’s not always easy to play with different stars because of their different styles of play. At the end of the day, he wouldn’t change anything and doesn’t care what others think.
“I’m happy with my career. I don’t know who’s not happy with theirs, but I’m sorry if you’re not. But I’m happy with the way mine went,” Wade said.