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From the Branches: On the brink

Toronto's own playoff run is about to begin!

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Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

MARLIES PLAYOFF GAMES ARE HAPPENING SOON!

1. Marlies at Sound Tigers, 7 PM, Saturday 4/23/2016
2. Marlies at Sound Tigers, 5 PM, Sunday 4/24/2016
3. Sound Tigers at Marlies, 7:30 PM, Thursday 4/28/2016
4. Sound Tigers at Marlies, 7:30 PM, Friday 4/29/2016
5. Sound Tigers at Marlies, 3:00 PM, Sunday 5/1/2016

Radio broadcast on TSN 1050, and home games available on Rogers TV.

I seriously need a Garret Sparks Marlies sweater for this historic run.

News Regarding the Toronto Marlboros

Toronto Marlies 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs Preview | Editor in Leaf
"It’s safe to say that expectations are high – championship high – in Toronto with regards to the Marlies. There’s no reason they shouldn’t be. After all, you don’t aim low after having a .750 win percentage and terrorizing the entire league over 76 games."

Marlies gear up for playoffs | Toronto Sun
"Coach Sheldon Keefe is finding out that a first-place, talent-laden team means lineup decisions sure to bruise egos during the playoffs." LOLOL seriously there's a negative way to spin "too good" ?

Nylander centre of attention for Marlies playoff run | The Star
"Top Leafs prospect William Nylander and the Marlies open Calder Cup journey Saturday in Bridgeport, Conn."

Leafs defence prospect Andrew Nielsen turning heads | Stevie Dangle
"Most players on the Toronto Marlies want to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs one day. At the moment however, many Marlies are just fighting to stay Marlies."

What if Frattin scored for Leafs on breakaway in Game 7 against Bruins? | The Star
"Seeing Matt Frattin with the Marlies ... I drifted back ... I closed my eyes ... I remembered. ... There was 3:35 remaining in Game 7. Frattin was on a breakaway. The Leafs were up 4-2 on Boston in the first round of playoffs. It was going to be a stunning turn of events until some even-more stunning events occurred."

Other Hockey News

Free agent Caggiula begins making NHL rounds | TSN
Hey, remember this kid I saw at the Frozen Four for North Dakota? He's still a free agent. I wonder if it's size. "Caggiula, 21, is an undrafted free agent forward free to sign with any team after wrapping up his senior season at North Dakota. He was highly touted all season, but his stock soared with four goals and one assist in two Frozen Four contests earlier this month in Tampa, leading North Dakota to its first national championship since 2000."

Alex Semin wins KHL championship with Metallurg Magnitogorsk | CBC
This is the other side of Katya's article. "It was also a happy end to the season for former Montreal Canadiens winger Alex Semin, who signed with Metallurg in December."

Canadian NHL ratings ‘shockingly low’ for 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs | Yahoo
There’s still hope that the playoff ratings could spike. As Bettman optimistically put it: "As long as the hockey is entertaining and exciting and competitive we're hoping and expecting that fans will tune in and watch great hockey."

And the follow-up article:
Rogers Communications Inc. says it will make profit on NHL rights deal this year, ‘without any shadow of a doubt’ | Financial Post
Species? What's your take on this?

Paul Bissonnette: How community values helped players reach NHL | USA Today
"Part of the Canadian hockey tradition is having a dad who was proud that you played. My dad was always a fan, never a critic."

Playoffs

Red Wings Lose, Time to Get Sad | WIIM
"Hope is a 4-letter word. There are lots of other 4-letter words, some of them very appropriate in describing the Red Wings' special teams tonight, but since this is a family website, we'll hold off on uttering the ones we really want to right now (but f-bombs away in the comments if it will make you feel better)."

Rangers Vs. Penguins Recap: Rangers Start Strong But Crumble Late In Game 3 | BSB "The New York Rangers came out absolutely flying to start Game 3 this evening, but Pittsburgh eventually took over the game after a late goal in the second period."

Blues refusing to let NHL have their way | SLGT
Despite a strong push by the Blackhawks to make the NHL's prophecy come true, the Blues are pushing back.

Andrew Shaw of Chicago Blackhawks appears to shout gay slur at referee | Washington Post
I woke up and found that Andrew Shaw shouted gay slurs at a referee last night. Here's an article about that.

We're not going to condone anyone defending the use of bigoted language in the FTB today. But thankfully I know that everyone in here is a better person than that.