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From the Branches: The Dream Gap Tour rolls on

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Also, the Buffalo Sabres are imploding, but what else is new?

2021 PWHPA Dream Gap Tour
Both Annie Pankowski and Alex Cavallini will be back in action in St. Louis.
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Happy Friday, everyone! Have any of you had a bad week? Feeling grumpy when you woke up this morning? Didn’t have time to make coffee? Well, I have good news for you—the Buffalo Sabres are absolutely having a worse time of it.

The Sabres are a tire fire inside a dumpster at this point. What new excitement will today bring?

In better, cheerier news, the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association has announced another stop on the Secret Dream Gap Tour. They’ll be in St. Louis on April 11 and April 12th. While there will not be much Canadian representation—the two teams are Team Adidas (based out of Minnesota) and Team Women’s Sports Foundation (based out of New England)—it will still be some damned good hockey. If we’re lucky, maybe we’ll get TV coverage again.

(Side note: despite me knowing that Secret is a sponsor and not an adjective, I regularly read it as an adjective, like the Dream Gap Tour is popping up in stealth locations across the country. Yes, I know that would be explicitly counterproductive.)

Blues Partner with PWHPA to Host 2021 Secret® Dream Gap Tour Showcase Presented Locally by Centene Corporation
The Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association continued its momentum today announcing a partnership with the St. Louis Blues.

Have some links for your Friday:

Sheldon Keefe on Auston Matthews’ wrist benefiting from rest: “If today is any indication, it has benefited him greatly... He scored a lot of goals in practice” | Maple Leafs Hotstove

Alex Galchenyuk joins Maple Leafs’ taxi squad, inches closer to game-day roster | The Star
Former 30-goal scorer skates with Tavares, Nylander, could play this weekend.

Rangers coaches to sit out games at Capitals due to COVID-19 protocols- NHL.com
New York Rangers coach David Quinn and assistants Jacques Martin, David Oliver and Greg Brown will sit out two games at the Washington Capitals this weekend. They missed a 9-0 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday in accordance with NHL COVID-19 protocol guidelines.

Coaches? The Rangers don’t need coaches | The Star
Rangers head coach David Quinn and three assistants missed Wednesdays’ game against the Flyers because of coronavirus protocols.

Evgeni Malkin placed on IR, still being evaluated | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Fontaine gives Northeastern women OT win in Frozen Four | The Star
Skylar Fontaine, the highest-scoring defenceman in the NCAA this season, scored at 19:34 of overtime on Thursday and Northeastern overcame its first two-goal deficit of the season to defeat Minnesota Duluth 3-2 in the Frozen Four.

Refreshed Maple Leafs expecting reinforcements for Calgary Flames games | Calgary Herald

Darryl Sutter on leaving Jacob Markstrom in vs. Oilers: 'I do not pull the goalie' - TSN

NHL Power Rankings: First Half MVP Edition
After hitting the halfway mark of the NHL season, Rory Boylen takes a look at each team's first-half MVP in this week's edition of NHL Power Rankings.

Colorado Avalanche announce fans will be welcomed back into Ball Arena starting in April - Mile High Hockey
The Avalanche will open up their arena at 22% capacity

It’s time to stop blaming Matt Niskanen - Broad Street Hockey
Philadelphia’s problem is beyond one player leaving.

Capitals Dynamic Duo is Lying in Wait - Japers' Rink
Alex Ovechkin’s numbers with a resurgent Evgeny Kuznetsov have been great so far and it might be time for Peter Laviolette to put the two together

A Sad Sabres Rite of Passage and the Agony of What Is Next - Die By The Blade
Ralph Krueger joins a laundry list of coaches to be relieved of their duties and the Sabres are back searching again

Corey Perry’s skills are making him irreplaceable in the Canadiens lineup - Eyes On The Prize
Off the roster to start the year, it’s now hard to imagine the Canadiens without him.