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From The Branches: BuffaLOL comes to town

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Maple Leafs vs Sabres in the next ‘Biggest Game of the Year’ tonight

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Toronto Maple Leafs Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Around 15 years ago, as part of a birthday present for my dad, he and I with some other kids and dads we were friends with made a road trip to see the Leafs play the Sabres in Buffalo. I didn’t know this at the time, but it would be one of only two wins the Leafs would have in Buffalo in the span of like a decade (not sure how long, just that it was a looooooooooong time). Belfour had to make 35 saves, and Mogilny scored 2 goals and they won 3-2.

Since that game, the Leafs are 11-22-6 against the Sabres in Buffalo, with one of those wins coming earlier this year.

The Sabres will be without Rasmus Ristolainen (suspension), Cody Franson (injury), and Taylor Fedun (injury). They weren’t exactly spoiled for choice when it comes to good NHL defensemen before, and without those three their pairings in yesterday’s practice looks like this::

Apparently, they think it’s better to try and sneak the suspended Ristolainen into the third pairing and hope the NHL doesn’t notice than to use whomever their 9th best defenseman would be.

The Leafs are on a roll, they can really put themselves in a good spot for a playoff position against a bad, injured team. It seems like as easy a win as they can get.... but because of the Leafs’ past, both as a whole and in Buffalo, I still feel scared. Someone hold me!

I’ll bet Marner gives the best hugs

Onto the links!

From PPP:

Roman Polak: Not the penalty killer you are looking for. | Leafyun with the Jedi-esque fanpost.

Probability again: Maple Leafs even more of a safe bet | Katya revisits the likelihood that the Leafs make the playoffs using maths and numericals.

Women’s World Championships 2017 Preview: Finland | AHHHH NOORA RATY! by Annie.

Stick to hockey: An introduction | by PK, from a couple of days ago but important enough to share again.

Should William Nylander and Mitch Marner be in the Calder conversation? | From some weird guy named Scott Wheeler. Maybe some relation to our overlord Steve?

The Solar Bears have won two of their three game series against the Brampton Beast. The third game is tomorrow at the Powerade Centre in Brampton.

Orlando Solar Bears goalie Ryan Massa talks about his win Thursday, and ECHL vs. AHL | Species shares some interesting quotes from the well-traveled goalie.

The Solar Bears’ Austin Block’s family brought props and printed face pics of him when he was a toddler to razz him during warm up. You have to first be impressed by how high quality the production value of all that stuff is they custom made themselves.

From The Rest of the Barilkosphere:

TLN Roundtable: Free Willy | The Leafs Nation writers speak of their love for the one true Swede.

Toronto Marlies Week in Review: March 11-24 | Mark from MLHS summarizes the Marlies latest run. [Species: Mark is in Canada this week and I confirm he is an A+ guy and a super knowledgeable hockey reporter!]

Ho-Sang 'grateful' for Lemieux's comments | Hopefully what is possibly the dumbest hockey controversy (and that’s saying something) is now over.

Here’s a millimetre offside review that goes awry.

Have a great Saturday folks! I’ll be at a group birthday celebration with my girlfriend’s very Finnish and very hilarious family, whose only fault is their extreme apathy when it comes to hockey.

GO LEAFS GO!