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From the Branches: Maple Leafs, Marlies, and Solar Bears could all clinch this week

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Fancy math tells us all three teams can win and get in

Toronto Maple Leafs v Detroit Red Wings Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The “x”.

We all want it. We all want it bad.

It’s so exciting, though, isn’t it? We could see our three favourite teams confirmed mathematically in playoff runs within the next week. The Maple Leafs are close, the Marlies are close, and so are the Solar Bears!

The Bears lost in OT last night with new goalie Mitch Gillam in net. That one point was crucial in the tight standings. They can clinch on Wednesday against the Everblades.

The Leafs start their final five games (in seven days!) tonight against the Sabres. Our preview is here!

Meanwhile, the Stanley Cup Playoff seeding in the NHL Western Conference is actually now final. The Coyotes eliminated the Kings in a game last night. It’s clear the most controversial trade at the deadline will be Steve Yzerman sending Ben Bishop to the Kings in exchange for Peter Budaj. Tampa won last night’s game, and stayed in the playoff race, however the Bruins also won by defeating the Blackhawks, keeping things interesting. Also LOLJETS!

It feels like a fan’s worst nightmare scenario is about to unfold where the playoff births in the Eastern Conference won’t be decided until the very last game of the season, possibly in a game not even featuring our own team.

The Leafs are in action tonight against the Sabres. It’s the first of five games in seven days to the end of the regular season, on Sunday, April 9. We will have a preview of tonight’s game up later this morning.

Your brain probably doesn’t run on pure numbers: Maple Leafs playoff chances - Katya
The Leafs face forward without fear. The rest of us are not so sure of things.

Auston Matthews won't need Toronto bias to help win the Calder - PD
He will win on merit

What does Mike Babcock think about Cherry’s rant on Zaitsev’s plus/minus?

If you look at it from the outside and you’re not around, you can say (Zaitsev) has been a minus player, but I think he has been an unreal player and I think he puts out tons of fires. For a rookie to step into our league and do what he has been able to do, I think it’s fantastic. Unbelievable person, unbelievable pro and I’m hoping he is going to be a Leaf for a long time because he is an upper-echelon player. - Mike Babcock

Well there you have it.

Other News

Lindy Ruff loses it on the officials from last night’s game in Tampa.

This guy is worthy of the number 66.

DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUB!!!!!

Panik records assist by getting hit with puck in opponent's net - SCC
Maybe the strangest and most painful assist the Blackhawks forward will have in Richard Panik’s career.

Joe Thornton Injured Versus Canucks - FtF
An awkward fall against the board could spell trouble for Jumbo and the Sharks

4-stroke penalty issued in bizarre finish at LPGA major - CBC
Apparently Gary Bettman now also runs the LPGA. A television viewer phoned in a complaint alerting tournament officials of a minor rule violation from the prior day. They imposed a retroactive penalty on a player, which cascaded into even more retroactive penalties. Can you imagine the hockey equivalent? Someone calling up the NHL and telling them a game winning goal was offside, and they review it and change the result in the middle of the next game, thereby eliminating a team from the playoffs or something?