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From the Branches: Counting down the days until playoffs

At least we have Auston Matthews back in our lives.

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Toronto Maple Leafs v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

We are eight games away from the end of the season, and I have never been so excited for the NHL playoffs (a time of heart palpitations, wide-eyed terror, and many alcohols) to start. Seriously, the playoffs are miserable, and yet I am so very very ready for that misery.

The Maple Leafs play the Detroit Red Wings tonight at 7pm, which may be partly accountable for my ennui—the Red Wings, you guys. Not even Henrik Zetterberg’s beard (an exceptional NHL beard) (I keep carefully calibrated rankings) can make them interesting. We’ll have a preview up later this morning; until then, please entertain yourself with today’s links post.

Markham Thunder’s Jamie Lee Rattray wins CWHL Jayna Hefford Trophy - Pension Plan Puppets
Rattray named league MVP by her fellow players after stellar season

Patrice Bergeron Eyeing Return to B’s Lineup - Stanley Cup of Chowder
[ominous music starts playing in the background, broken by the sound of me, screaming]

Shorter goalies find niche in what has become big man's position
So much for talk about the end of shorter goalies in the NHL. Judging by the height of goaltenders being drafted into the League, and currently making headlines, it might be tempting to think goalies measuring 6-foot or under were becoming extinct.

Down Goes Brown: Grab Bag: It don't matter if you're black-and-white

Red Wings must determine if Ken Holland should lead rebuild | MLive.com
Long-time general manager's future likely to be revealed in next couple of weeks.

Embattled Senators owner Eugene Melnyk to hold town halls with fans - The Globe and Mail
The call came a few days after billboards, paid for by fans, were put up across the city with the message #MelnykOut

Canadiens and Leafs veteran Dick Gamble dies at 89 | CTV News
Stanley Cup champion and American Hockey League Hall of Famer Dick Gamble has died. He was 89.

Devils Now in a Two-Horse Race for the Final Playoff Spot - All About The Jersey
With wins for each last night, Philly and Columbus may have put themselves just about out of reach for the teams chasing them. That essentially leaves the Devils locked in a battle with Florida for the final playoff spot in the East. Can they hold off the Panthers over the final few weeks?