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From the Branches: Maple Leafs need two points to clinch

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Will it be tonight?

Toronto Maple Leafs v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images

Leafs

Leafs have a point or two to make this week | Toronto Star
"A win, and Toronto is in the post-season for the first time since 2013."

That 2.33 Percent | TLN
"If the Lightning can put away Toronto tomorrow night in regulation or overtime, panic could creep in going into the weekend.”

Mirtle: How the Maple Leafs can finally clinch a playoff spot | The Athletic (subscription)
"It’s that simple for the Maple Leafs. Their magic number, with three games left, is two. They either need two points the rest of the way – or for the Lightning to miss out on two points and Islanders to miss out on one point in their final three games."

Assembling the optimal Maple Leafs lineup using playing styles | TLN
"My goal for this piece is to identify, using Stimson’s data, what the Leafs’ optimal lineup would be using their current regulars. Dom Luszczyszyn (@domluszczyszyn) took the data and applied it to the Leafs’ current depth chart."

'You never know what he's going to do' | Sporpsnet
"Jake Gardiner is a burner and a gambler — a Leafs fan's dream and, sometimes, nightmare — and a total one-of-a-kind on the blue line."

How and why Maple Leafs shield historic rookies from spotlight | Toronto Sun
"The club just doesn’t want Matthews, Nylander, Mitch Marner or any other inexperienced player distracted by what they should or shouldn’t say in an interview. 'Just be a hockey player,' said Lamoriello, who declined to say whether the practice would extend to next season with the current crop."

Toronto Maple Leafs: Brian Boyle Injured | Editor in Leaf
"Here’s why I don’t think it’s anything serious. I haven’t heard that the Leafs have or are going to call up Frederik Gauthier. He’s the one other player they could slot in at Boyle’s usual position. If you’re thinking about Eric Fehr, remember that the last time he appeared in the media, he had his arm in a cast. So, he’s out of the discussion."

Frozen Four: Minnesota Duluth Looks to Limit Harvard Attack | College Hockey
"As Scott Sandelin prepares to bring his team to the Frozen Four for the first time since winning the 2011 national championship, the Bulldogs know minimizing Harvard’s high-powered offense will be imperative to success." Leafs have a horse in this race.

If you are part of the Leafs Club, which I am not, you can watch Blueprint:

Olympics, mostly

Will Steven Stamkos ever win an Olympic gold medal? | Raw Charge
"If the NHL goes through with its plan and doesn’t let players go, then it’s another four years until Stamkos gets another chance. A lot can happen in four years. He’ll be 32 years old in 2022. He won’t be quite the lock to make the roster."

No Fly List: Specter of Tavares Sochi injury haunts 2018 NHL Olympics decision | LHH
"What happened to John Tavares in Sochi could have happened to anyone. And now it’s one of the reasons the NHL won’t be going to South Korea in 2018."

Compressing a season for a meaningless tournament hurts the NHL playoffs | Hockey Wilderness
"I’d love to see the NHL participate, but I understand the reasons, those subtle reasons, alongside what is actually being said by NHL brass. It would be nice if they could, at the very least, be honest about it, but I'm likely expecting too much."

With NHL out, Russia wants players back in KHL for Olympics | Chicago Tribune
"In Russia, all the necessary conditions will be created to grow their skill and readiness to play for the national team," board chairman Arkady Rotenberg said in a statement.

NHL opting out of Olympics could cost broadcasters | Toronto Star
"In skipping the 2018 Winter Olympics the NHL gets an early start on setting next year’s schedule, without having to build in a two-week while its biggest stars play in Peyongchang. But avoiding those that headache the NHL may have created another set of hassles for Olympic broadcasters like CBC."

Brad Marchand, bless his heart, is an elite player | Raw Charge
A Raw Charge writer made a painful bet that he had to settle.

Kyle Okposo hospitalized in ICU | Die by the Blade
Okposo will miss the rest of the season with an unknown ailment.