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[Friday's FTB] Game seven weekend kicks off

For the third time in NHL history, both conferences are heading to a game 7 in the leadup to the Stanley Cup Final.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

This weekend promises to be a very exciting one in the NHL. Tonight sees Tampa take on the Rangers at Madison Square Garden, with a trip to the Stanley Cup Final on the line. Tomorrow night we'll find out how the West was won [sorry] when Anaheim tries to stand in the way of Chicago booking their ticket to their the finals for the third time in six years. I assume that game will have infinity overtime periods.

Before I get to the Exciting Leafs Links And More, I want to take a minute to address the lurkers out there.

Dearest lurkers (and I mean that in the fondest sense),

I was like you not too long ago. I read PPP every day for years before I ever made a SB Nation profile. In fact, I only made a profile because I became a contributor on the blog, and I only applied at my brother-in-law's urging. It took a long time for me to feel like I had anything to say about hockey that was worth listening to (and my comments that aren't on sport and culture do tend to be pretty useless still). Particularly in the company of the other PPP contributors, who have made this a site to be proud of. This can definitely be (or seem like) an intimidating site, especially if you don't feel entirely comfortable with hockey stats.

I'm going to say it: I have felt this more as a woman, when the majority of commenters here and on bascially every hockey blog are men. Sometimes as a woman and a sports fan, being respected is a constant uphill battle-- and this battle can impact how you see yourself as a fan, or how you feel about how much you have to contribute in sports discussions. It's great if this isn't your experience! But I wanted to put it out there because it has been mine.

Lurking is fine. Everyone should do what feels most comfortable (well, within reason). But if you find yourself wanting to comment but you don't feel confident enough to do so, we really want to encourage you to join in on the fun. The FTB (From the Branches, the daily links post) is a great place to start commenting, particularly in the offseason when a lot of our conversations centre on non-hockey topics.

Everyone may not agree with me here, but I think this is a really welcoming group to commenters who treat others with respect. The commenters on this site shut down problematic language, provide endless support to the women who contribute here, and are willing to shoot the shit about basically anything. If you have a question about some of the graphs or terms you're seeing, people are really helpful. The management are committed to making this an inclusive and safe community, and they are quick to get rid of or warn trolls.

I cannot speak to what happened on this site before I joined it, and I can only really speak for myself here. Online sports communities tend to be really problematic places that are unsafe for a lot of people. I feel comfortable saying that my time here so far has been great and I encourage people who want to comment but haven't done so yet to take the plunge.

We'll welcome you with a warm "Welcome to pop, fantastic debuted."


Leafs Links

Anthony Petrielli: Exploring Mike Babcock's systems

Let the pain begin.

Sportsnet: Babcock sets sights on Red Wings assistants

Something interesting to watch for this offseason.

Sportsnet: Duchene irked by Russia's 'O Canada' skate-off

Is Matt Duchene a faithful reader of PPP because he secretly longs to join us in Toronto? Let the rumours fly!

"What a great organization the Leafs are, and getting Babs there is going to make them such a contender," said Duchene, who wants to spend his entire career in Colorado [Yeah, okay]. "They have so many great players, it's going to be fun to watch a big market like that have a resurgence."

Lightning, Rangers, Ducks, and Hawks Talk

What’s Wrong With (Critiques of) Big Ben Bishop?

Katie Strang: 5 keys to game 7 for the Lightning

My key to the game for Acha: Keep breathing, nothing too bad can happen in a game 7, right? /dies

Blue Seat Blogs: Eve of game 7 musings

Chris Johnston: Lightning bringing unpredictability to game 7

Down Goes Brown: Win or lose, are we witnessing the end of the Blackhawks?

Around the League/World

Die by the Blade: Sabres hire Disco Dan Bylsma as their next head coach

Yahoo Sports: Bylsma faces big rebuilding challenge in taking over the Sabres

His help in leading Team USA to a fourth place finish at the Sochi Olympics should be an asset.

Fear the Fin: Sharks introduce new head coach Peter DeBoer

Puck Daddy: Peter DeBoer introduced as Sharks coach; talks around non-captaincy issue

Don't worry Randy, New Jersey doesn't have a coach yet.

Japer's Rink: Driving the bus- Passing microstats and the Caps

Scott Cullen: Statistically speaking- Zone time, shot metrics and the evolution of hockey analytics

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Blues will be fast, "reckless" next season

"The four fastest teams in the league are playing right now," Hitchcock said. "They’re the four fastest in October and November and they’re still playing. We’ve got to get that pace, and we can do that."

Puck Daddy: U.S., Canada reportedly grouped together for 2016 World Cup of Hockey

Every time Canada beats the US at hockey, a bald eagle loses its wings [Sorr-eee for being a Canadian jerk]