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Saturday’s FTB heralds the return of hockey!

Hockey is back to save us all from having plans on a Saturday night.

Montreal Canadiens v Toronto Maple Leafs
Tomas and Tomas in more adversarial times.
Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images

Keep talking everyone, we’ll call this Sunday’s FTB too. And don’t forget to set your clocks back tonight.

Solar Bears rebound, put up seven on Greenville | Pro Hockey News
Martins Dzierkals, Max Novak, Kristian Pospisil and Hunter Fejes each collected a goal and an assist to lead twelve different players with at least a point as Orlando (29-26-5-1, 64 points) thrashed Greenville (21-33-6-1, 49 points) 7-1 in front of an announced crowd of 7,556 at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena.


Lots of meaningful hockey going on this weekend. The Markham Thunder need just one more point to clinch the final CWHL playoff spot. One loss or non-regulation win by the Vanke Rays will also do it for them, but getting a point would be more fun.

Meanwhile, the Rays’ opponents Kunlun Red Star are part of a three-way fight for home ice advantage in next weekend’s semi-finals. (Streaming for KRS vs Vanke Rays and Calgary Inferno at Canadiennes de Montréal) Most likely scenario for the weekend is this:

Markham sweeps the Boston Blades and clinches fourth place. Vanke Rays end their first season in fifth place.

Kunlun sweeps Vanke, clinching home ice advantage (which means a neutral-site location in the GTA, not a semi-final series in China) and likely first place.

The Calgary Inferno and Canadiennes de Montréal... one will come out of the weekend with second place in the league and home ice advantage, the other will not. Someone will be flying halfway across the country to play in the semi-finals. Calgary needs a sweep to grab second place and make Montréal come to them. It’s not out of the question.

Currently Montréal leads the season series 2-0, although one of those two games went to a shootout. Calgary boasts 2016 Clarkson Cup MVP Delayne Brian and 2017 U Sports Playoff MVP Lindsey Post in net. Montréal has 2016 IIHF World Championships Best Goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer as their starter. Calgary has added Olympic silver medalists Brianne Jenner and Blayre Turnbull back to their lineup. Montréal’s silver medalists will be dropping the puck at today’s game rather than playing, but they did add a gold medalist to the roster this week. Hilary Knight will make her CWHL return in tomorrow’s game on Sportsnet at 3:30 EDT. It’s gonna be a barnburner.

#knight2mtl: Hilary Knight Joins Les Canadiennes
By now we've heard every narrative on the books, from a hypothetical blood feud between Knight and NWHL commissioner Dani Rylan, to a (non-existent) bigger paycheck, to the definitely-very-imminent take-over of the CWHL by the NHL and subsequent failure of the NWHL.

Oh and I hear the Leafs might be playing tonight but Auston Matthews isn’t in the lineup so really, the CWHL games are where it’s at.

ICYMI

We went to Belleville to see the Marlies so you won’t have to - Species and Hardev
We recap the Marlies 4-1 victory against the Senators, and preview their next two games on Saturday and Monday.

Paralympic sled hockey schedule for PyeongChang 2018 - Achariya (at Raw Charge)
How to watch sled hockey at the Paralympics. Declan Farmer tries for a repeat of Paralympic Gold!

And here is the Team Canada Paralympic Sledge preview! - Achariya (at PPP)

Leafs news

Plekanec still going through adjustment period - Kristen Shilton - TSN
Like establishing a new regimen in his new home, Plekanec the Maple Leaf remains a work in progress, but it's a challenge he’s fully embraced.

In other news...

Big telcos set to hit many Canadians with internet price hikes | CBC News
Rogers and Bell are at it again.

NHL to hold Gaming World Championship in first foray into esports | Toronto Star
The $100,000 (U.S.) tournament will feature separate online qualifying events in Canada, the U.S. and Europe with each region sending two finalists to the 2018 NHL Gaming Final set for June 19 in Las Vegas.

Why the Hockey Hall of Fame blew it by adding Pierre McGuire to its selection committee | Toronto Star
Opening left by Scotty Bowman was a golden opportunity to bring a woman or a person of colour on board in an effort to reflect the culture change in hockey. Instead, the hall went with the high-profile broadcaster — another older, white male — and that’s a shame, Damien Cox writes.

I assume everyone at PPP has seen this and clicked the link, intent on sending in their résumés to ensure that the Hurricanes don’t even have time to think of asking for permission to talk to Dubas.