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From the Branches: Becoming fishers of pucks

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Tampa has some mighty fine fishing spots, I hear.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Tampa Bay Lightning
You will see neither of these players tonight.
Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images

The Leafs

Life and death: Toronto Maple Leafs’ Brian Boyle has seen plenty of both | National Post
"Ask the recently acquired Maple Leaf about the roller-coaster ride that has been the first 32 years of his life and he shrugs his shoulders. Yes, he admits, there have been plenty of times that tragedy has tugged on his heart strings. But, in the overall scheme of things, isn’t that just part of the journey we all go through?"

Mike Babcock on debacle in Sunrise, looking ahead to “big game” versus Lightning | MLHS
"Now we have an opportunity. Tampa has been playing well. They’re right there with us. I think it’s our game in hand, if I’m not mistaken, tomorrow. That’s a huge game for our team, so we’re excited. Now, we got out here and kind of cleaned the mechanism out. Get back at her, get your joy level up, and let’s get ready."

Brian Boyle prepares to face former Lightning teammates | Tampa Bay Times
"It's always been there," Boyle said. "There's a lot of the same guys down with injuries, the guys that were called up have been around the last couple years, they picked up quick. They're playing well. They know the staple of the their game is speed and they've got the skill guys. Goaltending has been good. We've got a tough challenge."

Late-season matchup between Lightning and Leafs lends itself to great theatre | Lightning Insider, subscription
“It’s bad enough we lost [Stamkos] as a centerman but then we preceded to lose just about every other one after that, but he’s on his way back,’’ Cooper said.

Maple Leafs Trade Tree: Jonas Frogren | Sportsnet
"With the Toronto Maple Leafs about to play against the Tampa Bay Lightning in one of the most important games the two teams have ever played against each other, the logical trade tree to tackle would be the Darcy Tucker one."

Toronto Maple Leafs 2017 Draft Watch: The Next Great Swedish Goalie | Editor in Leaf
"Eriksson Ek is 6’2″, 187 lbs, as a 17 year old. There’s potential he could be a bit bigger by the time he hits the NHL, too. The requirement for goaltenders in the modern era is size, and Eriksson Ek comes in at the average-lower scale."

Will Maple Leafs come to regret fishing trip during playoff race .... Hahahaha no I won't link to this.

Other Hockey News

Nikita Kucherov a big reason for Lightning’s turnaround | Raw Charge
"He probably won’t get Hart Trophy love, but Kucherov has been the Lightning’s MVP."

Team USA to sit out of 2017 IIHF Women’s World Championships | The Ice Garden
"The USA National Team members dropped a bomb on Wednesday morning when they tweeted out their intent to sit out of Worlds." This is an important story about equal treatment for hard-working athletes.

There Will Be Blood | Players Tribune
"I knew it wasn’t good from the sound my cheek had made when it hit the dasher above the boards. I knew it wasn’t good because the referee had blown his whistle so quickly. I knew it wasn’t good because our trainer, John Wharton, had jumped over the boards right away to check on me."

David Backes leaves the game with a leg injury | SCOC
"Backes appeared to toe-pick with the left leg, then fell face-first into the boards. He stayed down for a bit before being helped off the ice favoring his left leg." Eek.

PLEASE, PANTHERS, DON’T TURN AARON EKBLAD INTO ERIC LINDROS | THN
"Aaron Ekblad is a first-overall NHL draft pick who became a teenage phenom and, like Crosby and Lindros, Ekblad is amassing an alarming concussion history at a young age."

Four stealth Stanley Cup contenders that could shock the hockey world this spring | ESPN
"Led by 20-year-old captain Connor McDavid, Edmonton looks likely to earn a postseason berth."