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From the Branches: Playoffs begin for Toronto Furies

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Leafs are in the playoff race, but the Furies are already in the postseason! Plus, Andersen sees the future.

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Chris Tanouye | CWHL

For those of you watching the NHL standings and biting your nails (hello) (I really need to stop biting my nails, it's hell on my manicure), you might be excited to learn that one Toronto hockey team has already made the playoffs! The Toronto Furies start their playoff series against the Calgary Inferno tonight at 10pm ET, and while it doesn't look like tonight's game is being broadcast, tomorrow's game will be streamed free at 5:30pm ET.

Calgary's got a stacked roster, including Canadian national team standouts like Meaghan Mikkelson, Rebecca Johnston, and Brianne Jenner. To top all that off, their goaltending depth is unmatched in the CWHL--Emerance Maschmeyer, Genevieve Lacasse, and Delayne Brian could all be starters in their own right on another team. As you might guess, the Inferno are heavily favored--they swept Toronto in the regular season.

If the Furies are going to win, they need their rookie defense to perform at the absolute best of their (considerable!) ability, Christina Kessler to put on her best impression of a brick wall, and two games of full Natalie Spooner God Mode. Is it a tough task? Sure, but it's a three-game series, so an upset isn't impossible. Tune in on Saturday to watch!

The Inferno and Furies will both be slightly shorthanded. Akane Hosoyamada and Aina Takeuchi of the Inferno, and Sena Suzuki of the Furies, are currently in Sapporo representing Japan at the Asian Winter Games. They have played four games, allowed no goals, and scored 92, so it's going well for them!

This tournament is also our first good look at the South Korean women's national team, who have an automatic berth at the 2018 Olympics as the host nation. There are livestreams of the games, hosted here, if you're interested in watching some Asian international hockey. These are teams at wildly different talent levels, but South Korea has been holding their own, which is a really encouraging sign for Pyeongchang.

And now, have some NHL links for your Friday morning:

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