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From the Branches: Gott Nytt År

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We are the champions, my friends.

Don Wright-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps overlooked in yesterday's Puck Daddy article (the one that sung PPP's praises) was the first segment, in which the Toronto Maple Leafs were named team of the year. In the words of Puck Daddy:

Picture the most fertile farmland in the world, with amber waves of grain undulating as far as the eye can see. Now replace "waves of grain" with "blog posts" and you might understand why the Leafs are my team of the year. Dave Nonis, defending the indefensible. Phil Kessel feuding with the media. The media giving Phil Kessel a hot-dogging as he’s traded. Leafs jerseys thrown in protest, and then fans getting charged for it. Everyone getting fired.

And then … Mike Babcock landing his ego in Toronto. Lou Lamoriello shocking the hockey world. Palpable hopes and dreams, including flights of Steven Stamkos fancy that aren’t that crazy, despite denials!

And that’s not even mentioning the greatest trade in recent history.

Team of the year. Sorry, Blackhawks.

That link to "greatest trade"? To David Clarkson. This paragraph does a pretty good job of hitting the highlights of a crazy year -- and yesterday's victory over the Penguins points ahead to some hope.

What are your favorite moments of the year? Please share in comments!

Mine: Hunting a wild Kyle Dubas in Orlando, watching the ECHL prospects battle in a tough division, seeing how the Leafs organization works as a pretty interesting whole.

Leafs Links

Recap: Leafs 3, Pens 2 (SO), Bernier Shuts It Down | PPP
"Although Bernier was absolutely lights out in this one, Pens' rookie Murray was equal to the challenge. He stopped three separate breakaways, including a shorthanded one when Bozak forced a Letang turnover. Really both teams appeared to have forgotten entirely about playing defence, which undoubtedly made their respective coaches angry, but left the fans entirely thrilled."

Kapanen's first goal adds to Finland's victory, 8-3 vs Slovakia | PPP
"Kapanen has been a force in all three games for Finland, despite what the score sheet says, and while he's not quite the exciting goal scoring machines that Laine and Puljujärvi are, he has a much more complete game. He makes his linemates better."

World Juniors Recap: Sweden 5 - Denmark 0: Lillies doesn't wilt | PPP
"Sweden now sits at 3-0-0-0 and Denmark is 1-0-0-2. Sweden will win the group, even if they lose to Canada tomorrow."

Leafs recall Antoine Bibeau on emergency basis; also, Mark Arcobello | PPP

Maple Leafs' James van Riemsdyk: Assist pushes point streak to five games | CBS Sports
"Van Riemsdyk has finally picked up the pace and has six goals and five assists in his last nine games. And he has 16 points (six goals, 10 helpers) in his last 15. This warm front should continue, so use JVR with confidence."

Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Mitch Marner ‘still finding his way’ | National Post
"There are two ways to assess Mitch Marner’s performance so far at the world junior championship: you can look what he has done or you can look at what he expected to do."

‘Tenacious’ captain Brayden Point leading Canada by example at 2016 world juniors | National Post
Opening tale: priceless.

PPP named Blog of the Year by Puck Daddy/Yahoo Sports | PPP

Other Hockey Links

NHL Picks: Rangers end rough December with loss to Lightning | CBS Sports
This is hilarious because it's wrong. Lightning lost 5-3 to Rangers last night. And I only say hilarious because I'm trying not to cry.

Ranking the NHL's 15 best signings, trades and pickups of 2015 | SI
2. Maple Leafs sign Mike Babcock

Blog Council: Should Nashville acquire Stamkos and why do baby clothes have pockets? | SBN
Answer: No.

Evander Kane investigation could take weeks, police say | Buffalo News
Sigh.

Four things we learned in the NHL: Murray worth watching | SN
"We knew he was a big goalie...um, that's about it."

There's some kind of outside hockey event happening at some point soon. I haven't been following closely, TBH, because it appears to involve the Bruins and the Habs. But anyway:

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Here is the only necessary thing to read about the Winter Classic:

A Winter Classic debacle and the future of women's pro hockey | Vice / Kate Cimini and Beth Boyle Machlan
"Just minutes after the Winter Classic news broke, star forward Hilary Knight told the press that she and eight other members of the Pride would be unable to attend the game due to a conflict with a previously-scheduled USA Hockey training camp."

Last Night's Games

Brent Burns hit VandeVelde in the head, he was down a few minutes, but was later reported "OK".

Remember when they were going to putt cameras in the posts? Or was that a verification line? Or was it lasers or something? Chips in the pucks?

Sharks score 3 power-play goals, beat Flyers - Fear The Fin
Sharks strike three times on man advantage, securing a home victory over the Flyers

Rangers Snap Eight-Game Road Losing Streak With 5-2 Win - Blueshirt Banter
The New York Rangers finally got a win on the road this evening as they defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning by a final score of 5-2.

New Jersey Devils Shut Out Ottawa Senators, 3-0 - All About The Jersey
Cory Schneider ruled in Ottawa with allowing no goals on 36 shots and 76 shooting attempts by the Ottawa Senators. The New Jersey Devils escape Canada's capital with a 3-0 win. This is the recap of that year-ending victory.

Capitals Buffalo Buffalo, Win 5-2 - Japers' Rink
The Capitals had their highest-shooting game of the season on Wednesday night, rolling on to their league-best 58th point and downing Jack Eichel and the Buffalo Sabres 5-2 in D.C.