That’s a wrap on 2019. If 2020 is half as fun as the previous year was, it will be great. It was a particularly excellent year for Fred VanVleet, but he still said “hell no,” when asked if he was sad to see the year end. Read MoreRaptors Blog: Thompson pegs Lowry as a Hall of Famer — Toronto Sun
It didn’t take long for things to get spicy in this year’s Winter Classic between the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators. Ryan Ellis took a questionable hit to the head from Stars right wing Corey Perry just three minutes after the puck dropped at Cotton Bowl Stadium. Ellis was helped off the ice and Perry…Corey Perry Given Game Misconduct In Winter Classic, Twitter Loved Walk Of Shame — NESN.com
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Not a bad way for the Maple Leafs to hit the mid-point of the 2019-20 regular season. Read MoreLeafs kiss 2019 goodbye with another victory under Keefe — Toronto Sun
The Toronto Raptors closed out a memorable decade by rolling past the Cleveland Cavaliers 117-97 on New Year’s Eve. Read MoreChampion Raptors close decade with easy win over Cavaliers — Toronto Sun
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2019
Cleveland: P. Bittner (4) (D. Simpson), J. Scott (5) (S. Johnson, D. DeSalvo), K. Sherwood (4) (D. DeSalvo), J. Scott (6) EN (A. Clendening, M. Fortier)
Goaltender: V. Vehvilainen (28/29)
Toronto: K. Agostino (17) (T. Liljegren, M. Read)
Goaltender: K. Kaskisuo (32/35)
ON THE SCORESHEET
- Kenny Agostino scored at 9:17 of the second period. This was Agostino’s 300th career AHL game. He has 27 points (17 goals, 10 assists) in 27 games. He is tied for third overall in goals (17).
- Timothy Liljegren recorded the primary assist on Agostino’s second period goal. This was his 50th career AHL point (7-43-50). Liljegren set a career-high in points (3-15-18) in one season through 28 games.
- Matt Read registered the secondary assist on Agostino’s second period goal. Read has nine points (3 goals, 6 assists) in 24 games this season. He has assists (2) in consecutive games.
- Kasimir Kaskisuo stopped 32 of 35 shots he faced. He is now 10-4-1-0 on the season with a 0.916 Save Percentage and a 2.45 Goals Against Average.
A DECADE OF MARLIES
- Toronto is 417-228-41-33 since the 2010-11 season. The club has finished with 40 or more wins seven times, capturing two MacGregor Kilpatrick trophies with the best regular season record.
- The Marlies have advanced to two Calder Cup finals (2011-12 vs Norfolk, 2017-18 vs Texas), winning their first championship in 2017-18.
- Toronto has qualified for the postseason in eight consecutive seasons, advancing to the Conference Finals five times. The club is 63-38 in the playoffs with nine series sweeps.
- The Marlies have recorded 2,261 goals and allowed 1,905 goals.
- The Marlies are 5-2-1-3 on New Year’s Eve and have outscored their opponents 30-29.
- Toronto was 6-for-6 on the penalty kill and was 0-for-6 on the power play. This is the 12th game this season Toronto has not allowed a goal on the penalty kill.
- Cleveland had a 36-29 edge in shots in all situations. Pontus Aberg led the Marlies with five shots on goal.
- The Marlies are 9-5-2-1 against North Division opponents and are 2-1-0-0 against the Cleveland Monsters.
REGULAR SEASON LEADERS
- Goals: K. Agostino (17)
- Assists: J. Bracco (23)
- Points: P. Aberg, K. Agostino (27)
- PPG: P. Aberg,E. Korshkov (4)
- Shots: P. Aberg (86)
- +/-: G. Wilson (+10)
- PIMS: G. Wilson (58)
- The Marlies are 7-5-1-0 when trailing after the first period and 4-3-0-1 when tied after the second period.
- Toronto is 12-6-1-1 when outshot by their opponent.
- The Marlies are 0-1-0-0 in Tuesday games and finish 5-7-0-0 in December.
CURRENT POINT STREAKS
- Timothy Liljegren has assists (2) in consecutive games.
- Kevin Gravel (illness) did not dress for today’s game against Cleveland.
- December 30: Returned defenceman Timothy Liljegren on loan to Toronto (NHL).
- December 30: Recalled defenceman Teemu Kivihalme from loan by Toronto (NHL).
- December 30: Recalled defenceman Timothy Liljegren from loan by Toronto (NHL).
- December 28: Returned forward Kenny Agostino on loan from Toronto (NHL).
HEAD COACH GREG MOORE
On the team’s first period:
I was actually really happy with it. I liked our energy, I liked our focus, I liked our execution of our details. Our bench was really good and we got some looks, so I was really happy with the start. The second period, I thought early on got away from us a little bit. We got in our D-zone, just need at the end to close out some plays a little bit quicker. But overall, I liked our process to start the game.
On Kasimir Kaskisuo:
He definitely made big saves. He’s been playing well lately. He had a good weekend this past week and it’s just one of those nights. I thought their goalie played really well, too. We had some backdoor empty nets on the power play we just couldn’t finish on, so we got our looks. Our staff really liked our process, our energy and a lot of things that we talked about the guys were executing. So, we’ll just build on focusing on the process and not the result.
January 3 at Syracuse – 7:00 p.m. ET
January 4 vs Rochester – 4:00 p.m. ET
January 5 vs Lehigh Valley – 4:00 p.m. ET
January 10 at Texas – 7:00 p.m. ET
January 11 at Texas – 7:00 p.m. ET
(10-23) CLEVELAND CAVALIERS, 97 VS. (23-11) TORONTO RAPTORS, 117 SCOTIABANK ARENA TUESDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2019
TORONTO RAPTORS QUOTES
NICK NURSE (HEAD COACH)
On the starting lineup change … You guys know that I like to mix it up a little bit, I haven’t been doing it all that much this year and I thought maybe get both of them going – both Rondae (Hollis-Jefferson) and OG (Anunoby) … It seemed like it worked out okay, they both played really well tonight, I liked the energy from both of them.
On getting OG into the small forward position being a factor … Yeah, it did, I think that is an interesting part of it. Out of position is sometimes out of position, and getting him back there and getting him more comfortable. I just liked again, both of them were more focused, way more energetic, they were down and guarding, they were rebounding and when you are like that other good things, you know your shooting, your making strong moves and stuff seem to follow.
On using Rondae to start moving forward … I don’t know. Mixing up the starting lineup here for a little bit is probably something that you are going to see. I am just going to see what it looks like and feels like depending on who we are playing a little bit and go from there.
On Terence Davis being more energetic and not effected by the end of the last game … Yeah, which is good. He is a shooter and we need him to vault up and take them when he has got them and he found some rhythm tonight. I think we got a couple of set plays for him too and he made those, so that’s a good sign. It’s good that he came out and put that one in the past as history and moved on.
TERENCE DAVIS II (19 points, four rebounds)
On bouncing back after last game… I went home and watched the film and really (learned) from those mistakes. Down the stretch I looked at the clock and didn’t really tick in the time and score but that’s to take home with me down the road, just learning from those mistakes.
What does it feel like when you’re on an offensive role like that? Well I see it like this, when I see one go in I feel pretty good. I see another go in, I say okay, then another and it’s just the game of basketball, it’s how the game of basketball goes. Starts falling, you feel good, a good state of mind, actually.
FRED VANVLEET (12 points, seven assists)
On having chemistry with Terence Davis II tonight… I think offensively he’s a microwave, you know he heats up pretty quick. Know where to find him and usually if you get him in a good spot and he gets his feet down he’s got a quick release, so he can get them off, so tonight I thought he did a good of finding spots. Just playing confident and this is one of those games where a guy could find some rhythm, start off really hot then kind of hit the wall a little bit so to speak. I try to look for him to get his rhythm back and get his swagger back.
Do you say anything to OG Anunoby coming off the bench? Not really, guys got to figure it out as it goes. We are all pretty close and maybe too close to the point that we don’t really give each other pep talks. I know I didn’t, at least. You expect a guy to play no matter what position he’s in. He did a good job of coming in, ready to go and played pretty much identical to the way he’s been playing, he just made shots tonight, so that is kind of the cure all in most situations. He made some shots and that’s all that you look for.
CLEVELAND CAVALIERS QUOTES
JOHN BEILEIN (HEAD COACH)
On tonight’s game… Not a very good game for us, credit Toronto for that. They have such a great system that they are playing with. They have tremendous guards who really run that thing so well and they are really sound defensively. We were not good in many areas of the game today, end of the road trip, whatever, we just weren’t very good. I’ve got to watch the video and see what we can do to get better.
What was the most difficult thing tonight in containing them from the three-point line? They had the guys come off the bench with (Terence) Davis hitting the three, and OG (Anunoby) hitting the three and then of course just when you think maybe make a little run, (Kyle) Lowry will make a tough three. Their guard play is really experienced and really good, and it shows. They really have a great rhythm to what they do, they are hard to stop and then at the end of the first half, that last 45 seconds was just, frankly, was embarrassing.
How do you get your backcourt duo to play like Lowry and VanVleet? They just have to get the same experience those two have. They got years and years and years. Lowry was at Villanova when I was coaching at West Virginia, so that’s a long time ago. He’s got a lot of knowledge that I’m sure our guys will have over time. And then VanVleet, four years at Wichita State, led his team to the Final Four and really has earned this thing all the way through and really has done a great job. So those two guys are terrific. In today’s game, two guards like that, despite their size, can dominate and they really dominated the game today. They didn’t dominate our guards, they just dominated the game by making the right play.
COLLIN SEXTON (22 points)
What did you see out of the Raptors tonight? They’re a tough team, a championship team, so you know they’re going to put up a really good fight – and also they lost to OKC the other night so they had a chip on their shoulder and wanted to pretty much beat us. You could tell from the very start of the game that they had a different type of energy. The fans had a good type of energy that helped them tonight.
Where do you want to see the team improve offensively? Offensively? Just keep taking the shots. Making the right plays and doing what we do. I feel like most things come on defence. Not sprinting back, stopping in the backcourt, little things that we can control like boxing out. I don’t know how many offensive rebounds they had tonight, but it was a lot. We have to make sure we help the bigs and rebound. As a group we have to get better. Just get better and hopefully get some wins together.
TRISTAN THOMPSON (14 points, 11 rebounds)
What are some takeaways from this game? That everyone finished the game healthy. At the end of the day going into the new year, it’s bigger than basketball. You just want guys to finish out the year strong, finish out 2019 strong and be healthy. We got through the game, you guys saw what happened, the Raptors are a really good team. You have to give them credit. They play hard. It was their night tonight. Thinking about getting back to Cleveland and guys can spend time with their family because that’s what it’s all about.
On improving defensively… I think communication. Just talking, just have to open our mouth and call out the calls. If we see something we have to holler. Call it out loud and continuous so our teammates know what’s going on. We have to be on the same page with it.
What comes to your mind when you think of 2019 on the court? 2019? Some new faces, young guys getting better and adding some good young pieces. Collin, DG, KPG. It’s good. I’m happy with our young guys. They want to learn. They want to be great and they’re going to keep pushing themselves day in and day out.
On Kyle Lowry… Kyle Lowry is a Hall of Famer. He’s a (five)-time All-Star, Olympic gold medalist, an NBA champ. He’s their backbone. He’s been here since when they drew that charge against him in Brooklyn with Paul Pierce. He’s been through all that. When we were playing them in the Eastern Conference Finals and sweeping them. Then with Kawhi in the Finals, so he’s been through, just like myself, highs and lows, for him he keeps this ship running. He’s playing at a high level. Kyle is a bulldog. He competes every night. That’s why his teammates love him – because you can count on the guy every night.
FINAL SCORE: TORONTO RAPTORS 117, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS 97
DATE: DECEMBER 31, 2019 ATTENDANCE: 19,800 (Sellout)
FINAL SCORE RECORD HIGH POINTS HIGH REBOUNDS HIGH ASSISTS Cleveland 97 10-23 Sexton – 22 Love/Thompson – 11 Three Players – 4
Toronto 117 23-11 Lowry – 24 Ibaka – 10 Lowry – 8
Leading 52-43 with 1:03 left in the second quarter, Toronto ended the half with seven straight points to lead 59-43 at the break … The Raptors outscored Cleveland 32-18 in the second quarter … Kyle Lowry scored 11 of his game-high 24 points in the frame … Toronto led by double digits the entire second half.
The Raptors shot .476 (40-for-84) from the field, including .436 (17-for-39) from three-point range … Cleveland shot .425 (37-for-87) from the floor and .263 (10-for-38) from beyond the arc.
RAPTORS NOTES: • With the win, Toronto improves to 23-11 this season and 14-5 at home … The Raptors have won two of their last three games (Dec. 28-31) and end the month of December with a 9-7 record.
• Toronto has won five straight games at Scotiabank Arena vs. Cleveland.
• The Raptors have finished with a winning record each of the past 20 calendar months … The streak is the longest in franchise history and the longest current streak in the NBA … The last month in which Toronto did not have a winning record was January 2017 (8–9).
• The Raptors’ bench outscored Cleveland’s reserves 41-25.
• Kyle Lowry led all scorers with 24 points (7-16 FG, 4-12 3PT, 6-6 FT) in 36 minutes … Lowry has scored 20+ points in eight of the last nine games (Dec. 16-31), averaging 24.0 points during this span.
• Serge Ibaka recorded his third straight double-double and seventh of the season with 20 points and a team-high 10 rebounds in 33 minutes … All seven of Ibaka’s double-doubles have come in December.
• Terence Davis ll matched his career high with 19 points (7-12 FG, 4-7 3PT, 1-2 FT) in 25 minutes … Davis ll scored 14 points in the fourth quarter.
• The Raptors had six players score double figures – Lowry (24), Ibaka (20), Davis ll (19), Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (14), Fred VanVleet (12) and OG Anunoby (12) … Hollis-Jefferson made his first start as a Raptor … Anunoby came off the bench for the first time this season.
• Rookie Terence Davis ll is the only Raptor not to miss a game this season. • The Raptors are now 4-3 without Marc Gasol, Pascal Siakam and Norman Powell.
• With the loss, Cleveland falls to 10-23 on the season and 4-13 on the road … The Cavaliers have lost two of their last three games (Dec. 27-31) and finished the month of December with a 5-9 record.
• All five Cleveland starters scored in double figures, combing for 72 points. • Collin Sexton scored a team-high 22 points (8-15 FG, 1-4 3PT, 5-5 FT) in 32 minutes – his fifth 20-point effort in the last seven games and 11th this season. • The Cavaliers had six players score in double digits – Sexton (22), Cedi Osman (14), Tristan Thompson (14), Kevin Porter Jr. (13), Darius Garland (12) and Kevin Love (10).
HEAD COACH SHELDON KEEFE
On the team’s defensive performance as efficient:
Yeah, I thought it was good — efficient is a good term to describe it. I didn’t think we gave up a lot defensively, for sure. We didn’t give up many shots or chances, especially in that third period when we expected them to push. I thought we took care of it pretty well there.
On if the way Nylander and Tavares play together is different from when Nylander and Matthews play together:
Yeah, there’s different dynamics at play there. I’ve liked it so far; the chemistry has been good. The nice thing I think that’s come out with the fact that we’ve moved things around here, since I’ve been here, is it’s giving me a pretty good taste of what different things look like. You never know what the season is going to bring and what each game is going to bring. It gives me a feel for different things. Obviously, we’ve used a number of different combinations so far and we like this one and we like a lot of others that have worked too.
FREDERIK ANDERSEN (26 SAVES)
On the team’s performance tonight:
I thought we made some good adjustments and definitely played a really solid game. I think we got off to a lead and they had to force some stuff to get back into it. So I think we did a better job of not playing into their hand and forcing too much and made them come to us. I thought we did a good job.
On the forwards and defence working in unison and creating quicker breakouts:
Of course I think any time you can help each other out and make it easier for each other, it’s important. That can make the game less hard. I think guys will take less hits if we play it quicker and help each other out like that.
ALEX KERFOOT (1 GOAL, 100TH NHL POINT)
On William Nylander’s play of late:
He’s been playing really well for a long period of time right now. It’s fun to play with him. He makes plays, he’s hard on pucks and protects the puck down low. So, he makes a lot of stuff happen out there. It’s obviously a pleasure to play with him.
On what has led to the chemistry between himself, Nylander and Tavares:
Well, those two guys are just good hockey players. I think you put anyone on their wing and they’re going to have success. They spend a lot of time in the offensive zone. So, it’s just trying to read off them and make plays and they find space, they make good things happen. So I’m just trying to do my job.
WILLIAM NYLANDER (1 GOAL, 1 ASSIST)
On his line getting the first goal of the game from Kerfoot early in the first:
Yeah, it was a great play by Johnny [Tavares] being hard on his stick. There’s kind of a lucky play there in the corner where he lost the puck, but we were able to get possession of it. It’s a great play and a nice goal by Kerf.
On what has allowed he and Tavares to develop chemistry quickly:
I think it’s just that with some players, you just click automatically from the beginning.
On his pass to set up Matthews’ goal on the power play:
I just saw him backdoor and I kind of knew he would be open, so I just tried to get it over there.
JOHN TAVARES (1 GOAL, 1 ASSIST)
On tonight’s win:
Yeah, it probably wasn’t the prettiest. I don’t think we made as many plays as we’re capable of. But it was just one of those games where it felt like ping pong, especially early, and we were just able to capitalize on some good opportunities and then played with the lead pretty well. We were able to do a pretty good job on special teams. So, just stuck with it and just made it difficult for them. Just tried to play five inside and really have to make them earn their opportunities and the ice there and then, obviously, try to generate offense ourselves, try to keep the puck and wear them out and make them have to defend.
On the team finding a way to win despite not making as many plays as it can:
You have to have that to win in this league. There are so many good teams, so many good players. Things aren’t going to always go your way. You’re not always going to make the perfect play and mistakes happen and it’s just the nature of our league, our game. So, just staying with it and doing a good job. We regrouped, I thought, pretty well off the timeouts and got back to our game, did some good things and were able to get the win.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (22-14-5 – 49 Points) vs.
MINNESOTA WILD (19-17-5 – 43 Points)
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2019
ON THE SCORESHEET
- Alex Kerfoot put the Maple Leafs on the board at 5:55 of the first period. Kerfoot’s goal is his 100th career NHL point. He has three points (1-2-3) over his last four games played. He recorded seven points (1 goal, 6 assists) in 13 games during the month of December.
- William Nylander scored the second Toronto goal of the game at 19:29 of the first period and registered the primary assist on Auston Matthews’ second period goal. Nylander has goals (4) and points (4-4-8) in four consecutive games and assists (4) in three consecutive games. With goals in four consecutive games, Nylander has established a career-long goal streak (Previous: Mar. 20 to 23, 2017 (3G; 3GP)). Tonight’s game is Nylander’s eighth multi-point performance of 2019-20.
- Auston Matthews registered the primary assist on Nylander’s first period goal and later scored the third Maple Leafs goal of the night on the power play at 8:34 of the second period. Tonight’s game is Matthews’ 16th multi-point performance of the season, which is tied for the fifth-most multi-point games in the NHL. He has 11 points (5 goals, 6 assists) in seven games against Central Division teams in 2019-20.
- John Tavares registered the primary assist on Kerfoot’s first period goal and later scored the fourth Toronto goal of the game into an empty net at 19:35 of the third period. Tavares has assists (7) and points (3-7-10) in five consecutive games. Tonight’s game is his 12th multi-point performance of 2019-20. He has 22 points (11 goals, 11 assists) in 19 road games this season. He has 17 points (8 goals, 9 assists) in 17 career games against the Wild.
- Travis Dermott had the secondary assist on Kerfoot’s first period goal. He has recorded six (2-4-6) of his seven points on the road this season. He has three assists in three career games against Minnesota.
- Tyson Barrie collected the secondary assist on Nylander’s first period goal. Barrie has assists (5) and points (1-5-6) in four consecutive games. He has eight points (1-7-8) in 15 career games at Xcel Energy Center. In 13 games during the month of December, Barrie recorded nine points (1 goal, 8 assists).
- Mitch Marner had the secondary assist on Matthews’ second period goal. Marner has assists (2) in two consecutive games. He recorded 19 points (6 goals, 13 assists) in 12 games during the month of December. His 56 career points (17 goals, 39 assists) in 50 career games during the month of December marks his highest career point total in a single month.
- Frederik Andersen stopped 26 shots to earn the victory. He is the first goaltender in the NHL to reach the 20-win mark in 2019-20.
SHOTS ON GOAL (5-on-5 in brackets)
|TORONTO||8 (7)||15 (13)||6 (5)||–||29 (25)|
|MINNESOTA||7 (2)||14 (13)||6 (5)||–||27 (20)|
SHOT ATTEMPTS (5-on-5 in brackets)
|TORONTO||14 (13)||30 (27)||8 (7)||–||52 (47)|
|MINNESOTA||16 (9)||21 (19)||15 (11)||–||52 (39)|
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
|Record on the Road||12-10-0 (22 Games)|
|All-Time Record vs. Minnesota||12-11-0-1 (23 Games)|
|All-Time Record vs. Minnesota on the Road||4-6-0-1 (11 Games)|
|Record vs. Western Conference||10-5-0 (15 Games)|
|Record vs. Central Division||4-3-0 (7 Games)|
MAPLE LEAFS LEADERS
|Shot Attempts||8 (Tavares)|
|Faceoff Wins||11 (Tavares)|
|Faceoff Win Percentage||75% (Kerfoot – 3 won, 1 lost)|
|Blocked Shots||3 (Ceci, Rielly)|
|Power Play TOI||4:09 (Five players tied)|
|Shorthanded TOI||3:21 (Ceci, Marincin)|
|5-on-5 Shot Attempt Percentage||66.7% (Hyman – 12 for, 6 against)|
|Lead after 1||11-2-1|
|Lead after 2||15-1-2|
|Score one power play goal||8-3-3|
|Allow one power play goal||10-6-3|
- The Maple Leafs went 2-for-3 on the penalty kill and went 1-for-3 on the power play tonight.
- Justin Holl started 28.6 percent of his 5-on-5 shifts in the offensive zone, which was the lowest mark among Toronto skaters.
- Morgan Rielly was on the ice for a team-high 20 Toronto shot attempts-for at 5-on-5 tonight. Rielly finished the game with a 5-on-5 shot attempt percentage of 50 percent (20 for, 20 against).
- Jason Spezza went 5-for-6 (83%) in the faceoff circle when matched up with Minnesota centre Eric Staal.
- John Tavares won 63 percent (5 won, 3 lost) of his offensive zone faceoffs.
- Thursday, January 2, 8:00 p.m. at Winnipeg Jets (TSN4, FAN 590)
- Saturday, January 4, 7:00 p.m. vs. New York Islanders (Sportsnet, TSN 1050)
- Monday, January 6, 7:00 p.m. vs. Edmonton Oilers (TSN4, TSN 1050)
- Wednesday, January 8, 7:30 p.m. vs. Winnipeg Jets (Sportsnet, FAN 590)
- Sunday, January 12, 7:00 p.m. at Florida Panthers (Sportsnet, TSN 1050)
The Boston Celtics ended the year in style. Playing without Jaylen Brown, Boston rebounded from Saturday’s loss to the Toronto Raptors, earning a 109-92 win Tuesday afternoon over the Charlotte Hornets. The Celtics received strong contributions from their best players, as Jayson Tatum (24 points, seven rebounds), Kemba Walker (22 points, seven assists) and Gordon…Celtics Wrap: Boston Gets Back On Track With 109-92 Victory Over Hornets — NESN.com