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From the Branches: Maple Leafs enter the home stretch; seven games left

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The Leafs face the Panthers tonight

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Florida Panthers Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

There’s only seven regular season games left for the Maple Leafs. Yes, it’s a cliche to say “every game is a big game,” but, uh, every game is a big game. Tonight the Leafs face the Panthers. A Tuesday night game against a Florida team? What could go wrong?

James Reimer was in net for their loss to Buffalo last night. I suspect he was rattled by having to wait on the ice at the start of the game for a special ceremony to honour Brian Gionta for playing in his 1,000th NHL game. I was not there in person, but I assume the tribute was titled “1,000 reasons NHL GM’s are stupid”.

Who will be in net for the Leafs tonight? WHO KNOWS (it’s probably McBackup)? Garret Sparks was called up from the Marlies yesterday to offer support.

How did we get to be a one goalie team? - Katya
Katya knows how this happened.

Kasperi Kapanen may make his debut tonight as well. We’ll have a preview and lines up later this morning.

The Women’s World Championships are almost here and we have previews of all teams. Here are the first four:

Team Czech Republic
Team Sweden
Team Switzerland
Team Finland

Of course, there’s supposed to be a Team USA, but USA Hockey is going out of their way to humiliate themselves by preventing that from happening. Apparently it’s not the first time they’ve done this!

USA Hockey turned down potential USA/Canada rematch after 2014 Olympics - TIG
“before we had even decided what to do, we heard from the Canadian team that USA Hockey already told them we didn’t want to play”

There was a very scary moment at the end of last night’s Hurricanes game when Eddie Lack went down obviously in extreme pain. He was stretchered off the ice with support from all players on both teams.

Canes Country is updating news here, but preliminary tests at the hospital show Eddie will be OK.

Byron Froese hits 200 AHL games - Raw Charge
That name sounds familiar...

College signings galore!
Vinni Lettieri Signs with New York Rangers
John Stevens Signs with New York Islanders
Matt Roy Signs with Los Angeles Kings

Mirtle got out at the right time.

Ho-Sang is the latest Failure in NHL’s treatment of marginalized Players, fans - FtF
The league needs more than a month for claims of inclusiveness to stick.