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From The Branches: Bye, Bye, Bye

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The bye week is upon us, so why not watch other teenagers play hockey?

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Good morning, PPP! Today is the second day of the Maple Leafs bye week, and while some of them are enjoying Caribbean vacations and/or eating delicious pie, the rest of us are trapped in the real world with no Leafs hockey. It's truly dismal.

A humble recommendation? The Women's U18 World Championship! It's happening right now! The tournament participants are the USA, Canada, Russia, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, Japan, and the hosts, the Czech Republic. As usual, it's expected to be USA vs. Canada for gold, and everyone else duking it out for bronze.

Yesterday, the USA beat Sweden 4-0. Natalie Heising's goal, the fourth of the game, was particularly nice.

Canada played Russia yesterday and won 4-2, pulling ahead with two goals in the third and outshooting Russia 45-14. I couldn't find video highlights, but Russia Hockey was kind enough to post a fantastic photo album. Hockey action shots galore!

USA and Canada are facing off in their final game of the preliminary round tomorrow morning at 9:30 Eastern time. Both are undefeated so far this tournament. If World Juniors reminded you how fun it is to watch teens play hockey--energy! enthusiasm! turnovers!--you should tune in. The IIHF is even providing free, legal streaming to make it easy.

Who are we cheering for, Auston?

Auston Matthews knows what's up.

ICYMI

The next Maple Leafs game is when? - Pension Plan Puppets
What is a bye week anyway?

Antoine Bibeau gets the start for the Marlies and Jhonas Enroth is back on the Leafs roster - Pension Plan Puppets
The goalie elevator is back in business.

Maple Leafs News

Toronto Maple Leafs’ experienced rookies spearhead paradoxical pursuit of playoff spot | National Post
I suspect the National Post headline writer got a thesaurus as a holiday gift.

Toronto Maple Leafs Should Be 3-0 Against The Montreal Canadiens
The Toronto Maple Leafs might be 0-3 to the Habs this year, but they deserve better, as the stats will tell you and simply watching the game shows.

Leafs losing streak hits 13 against Montreal; nearly three years have passed since last win | Globalnews.ca
The Leafs losing streak against the Habs hit 13 games (0-9-4) at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday night, lingering now for almost three years following the 5-3 decision.

Vintage Leaf Memories - Michael Langlois: 20 Maple Leaf and across the NHL nods to individual players and coaches…

League News

Winnipeg Jets rookie Patrik Laine out indefinitely with concussion - The Globe and Mail
Get better soon, Patrik.

Game changer: How the goalie mask transformed the face of hockey - The Globe and Mail
It was a simple idea to protect the face, but its impact has been felt in more far-reaching ways

Cockpit smoke forces Dallas Stars’ plane back to airport - The Globe and Mail
The Stars might not be on fire this season, but their plane was!