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From the Branches: Maple Leafs at the half way mark

The Leafs reach the half way point of the 2015-16 season tonight with game 41 against the Blue Jackets.

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John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

As of today The Leafs are halfway through the NHL season.

Um. Technically they aren't half way through the season until sometime after tonight's game. Check your facts.

The Leafs will play the Blue Jackets tonight at the ACC. We will have updates and coverage starting this afternoon at 3pm EST.

In the meantime check out our other Leafs and NHL coverage from the past 24 hours.

Toxic Masculinity, Domestic Violence, and Hockey - Pension Plan Puppets, the Katie and Acha show
Over/under on the number of commenters who read the headline, that it's written by women, and simply guess at the rest.

The Leaf: Blueprint Episode 4, Redemption Song - Pension Plan Puppets
Heroic tales need adversity and achievement. Two heroes sing their arc in today's media journey.

Is T.J. Brennan the best defenceman in the AHL? - Pension Plan Puppets
AHL All-Star T.J. Brennan is now tied with William Nylander in points. Just how good is he?

Babcock has justified the hype in Leafs’ first half - Article - TSN
The Maple Leafs hover very close to bottom of the Eastern Conference, nowhere near a playoff spot. And yet, the first half of their season would qualify as a relative success.

PPP community awards and statistics for 2015 - Pension Plan Puppets
Wherein we realize just how active this community is.

Last Night's Games

This got a little crazy in New Jersey when the Devil's Bobby Farnham was taken down along the boards on a clean hit by the Blue's Kyle Brodziak. After getting up, Farnham decided he wanted revenge and charged an unrelated Blues player.

This idiocy precipitated a full scale line brawl in which Jordin Tootoo was knocked out, briefly unconscious, and the officials barely contained the situation from devolving into a full bench clearing disaster.

The DoPS will no doubt be looking at many of the events here, with Farnham in particular in line for a suspension.

SB Nation Game Recaps

Islanders 5, Blue Jackets 2: Jackets submit to the Full Nelson - Lighthouse Hockey
Brock Nelson's first career hat trick (and first Islanders trick at Barclays Center) led the New York Islanders to a 5-2 win over Columbus.

Hurricanes 3, Penguins 2 - (OT) - Canes Country
Jeff Skinner scores game-winner and Elias Lindholm has three assists to lead Carolina to third straight win.

Devils Vs. Blues Recap: Devil May Cry 5 - St. Louis Game Time
Please instruct us on how to Bergie.

Wild fall to the Sabres on 3 first period goals - Hockey Wilderness
Tonight the Minnesota Wild welcomed Jack Eichel and the Buffalo Sabres to St. Paul for what was billed as a hockey game.

Sharks get past Jets - Fear The Fin
The San Jose Sharks are riding a three game winning streak after tonight's victory in Winnipeg

Avalanche Struck by Lightning 4-0 - Mile High Hockey
BAD AVALANCHE

Max Domi's hat trick carries Coyotes to 4-3 overtime win - Five For Howling
Max Domi and Oliver Ekman-Larsson did it all tonight for the Coyotes, as they beat the Oilers in overtime.

Jonathan Drouin

Everyone is still talking about Drouin! More teams are coming out as interested.

Don't trade Robby Fabbri for Jonathan Drouin - St. Louis Game Time
When in doubt, don't make a trade that isn't a clear upgrade.

Wild sets sights on Lightning's Drouin - StarTribune.com
A week after missing out on Columbus Blue Jackets center Ryan Johansen, Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher has his sights set on Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin, multiple sources say.

For a more comprehensive look at the Lightning's situation with Drouin, Stamkos, and others see this post at Raw Charge.

State of the Tampa Bay Lightning Address - Raw Charge
With President Obama set to give his State of the Union address tonight, and the Lightning just past the half-way mark of the season, what better time than to have our own State of the Lightning Address?

Other News

I wouldn't be surprised...

Richard Panik joins Blackhawks after settling visa issues - Second City Hockey
Dick Panik finally arrives in Chicago.

Elias Underwent Knee Surgery Today, Out Indefinitely - All About The Jersey
Patrik Elias underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. While the surgery was a success, he is out indefinitely and may not play for the New Jersey Devils again this season.

An Outsider's Look at Alex Ovechkin: One of the NHL's Most Dominant Players - Japers' Rink
It's a given that Caps fans love Alex Ovechkin - but we're not the only ones.

CHL Video on Josh Ho-Sang: 'He wants to make the perfect pass' - Lighthouse Hockey
He's made mistakes and gotten a rap from the media, but increasingly Joshua Ho-Sang looks like a good hockey talent who, if he makes it to the NHL level, will sincerely want to use the platform to contribute to humanity.

Report: Travis Hamonic out 2-3 weeks, derailing Isles defense and trade proposals everywhere - Lighthouse Hockey
According to a pair of tweets from Newsday's Arthur Staple, Travis Hamonic will be out possibly for the three weeks, escalating the grim progression from maintenance day to game time decision to day-to-day and finally on the shelf.

That Ends That: Chris Higgins on Waivers - Nucks Misconduct
The youth movement claims another veteran.

2016 NHL Draft: Mid-Term Draft Rankings - SB Nation College Hockey
Chris Dilks lists his top draft prospects for the upcoming 2016 NHL Draft

Matt Hendricks Suspended For Three Games - The Copper & Blue
The NHL's Department of Player Safety has spoken, Matt Hendricks has been suspended for three games.

Wear Your Bear for 20th Anniversary of the Pooh Bear - Stanley Cup of Chowder
January 26th against Anaheim is #WearYourBear night.

Blackhawks sign coach Joel Quenneville to 3-year contract extension - The Globe and Mail
Quenneville has 781-451-77-110 record over 19 years as an NHL head coach

Global Sports News

FIFA fires secretary general Valcke - The Globe and Mail
FIFA said on Wednesday it had fired Secretary General Jerome Valcke amid alleged corruption involving World Cup ticket sales, one of many scandals surrounding soccer’s governing body.

APNewsBreak: IAAF officials explored covering up Russia bans
Six years before the IAAF banned Russia, track and field's governing body knew of doping so out of control it feared Russian athletes could die from abuse of blood-boosting drugs and transfusions, and officials considered collaborating with Russians to hide the full extent of the cheating before the 2012 London Olympics, according to internal documents obtained by The Associated Press.

Reports: Rams And Chargers Approved To Relocate To LA, Share Stadium In Inglewood
Some big changes are a foot in the NFL as two teams have successfully made relocation bids to Los Angeles.

Media News and Commentary

Corus Entertainment acquires Shaw Media for $2.65-billion - The Globe and Mail
Should the deal close, the combined company would own 45 specialty and 15 conventional television stations, 39 radio stations, the Nelvana content studio and other assets.

MCDAVIDMCDAVIDMCDAVIDMCDVAIVIAAFMNAFACDANVIDD!!!!!!!!!!!

Just when you thought the Canadian media had reached peak insufferable Connor McDavid stories, the Globe and Mail tops them all.

Oilers’ Connor McDavid won’t score birthday present he wants the most - G&M
The McDavid you didn't even know you didn't want to read.

Question: I was looking at the standings this morning and there is now a real possibility zero Canadian teams will make the playoffs. How much of a disaster will that be for Rogers? At least we will be spared the "Canada's team" narrative garbage, right?

Gary Bettman begs for cash on behalf of Flames' owners - Matchsticks and Gasoline
Speaking to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, Gary Bettman made the usual generic relocation threat over the lack of instant gleeful cheque-writing by the City of Calgary to the Flames ownership group to build a new arena.

Zeitgeist: Sean Penn's secret meeting with El Cappy at his hidden Rhode Island lair - Lighthouse Hockey
An excerpt from the most shocking interview of a hockey coach by an award-winning actor of the year. Sean Penn travels into the most remote woods of Rhode Island to talk to the NHL's most mysterious coach, Jack "El Cappy" Capuano.