The Tampa Bay Lightning, the Florida Panthers, the Washington Capitals, and the Boston Bruins. These teams make up the bulk of the top teams in the Eastern Conference right now, and the group the Leafs will have to face down over the next eight days before the beginning of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

With certainty, one of these teams will also be the opponent of the Leafs in the first round of the playoffs, most likely either the Lightning or Bruins first, and then another in a later round. It’s a good chance for reconnaissance on these teams, but at the same time it will be a gruelling set of games to get through, and I’m sure everyone will be wincing at every hit on a Leafs player, or every time Jack Campbell’s legs go in awkward directions, always hoping that no one is knocked out with a silly fluke injury for the playoffs.

Oh, and there’s one game against the Detroit Red Wings too, the octopus royalty of the league always have tricks up their sleeves, and since they are already eliminated from the playoffs they have nothing to lose, which makes all of the above even scarier.

The final five games start tonight with the Leafs on the road in Tampa. It’s an 8:00 p.m. game, so go for a nap this afternoon. We’ll have our preview out later today.

Marlies News

The Marlies are down to their final five games now too, but are in a much different position. Their hold on a playoff spot slipped away after losing their past two games; a 5-1 loss in Syracuse, then a 5-4 loss last night in Belleville, but we can enjoy Nick Robertson’s incredible speed on display in the game.

There’s still time for the Marlies to get back in it as the North Division standings are tight, but it means every game now is critical to win, and it’s complicated by the fact that all but one game is on the road.

Their next game is Friday night in Laval against the Rocket. Their final home game of the season is on Sunday, hosting Belleville Senators.

Other News

While in the Eastern Conference the playoff participants are all set, over in the Western Conference where there’s still six teams fighting over the four remaining playoff spots. The Vegas Golden Knights are one of the teams in the mix and they kept hope alive last night with this OT goal where it’s like the Capitals didn’t even try to stop him from scoring.

Youth hockey names continue to be bizarre, but who thought the OHL could ever top the WHL? Get a load of this one and more in the Twitter thread.

Detroit Red Wings Zamboni driver Al Sobotka fired for peeing in public - Detroit Free Press
A lawsuit revealed longtime Detroit Red Wings employee Al Sobotka was fired by Olympia Entertainment for public peeing. Now there’s a lawsuit.

New Glasgow coach ready to step behind bench for Team Canada U-18 men's team - CBC
When Hockey Canada recently announced its coaching staff for the men's under-18 team, assistant coach Kori Cheverie was surprised by the reaction. "I didn't expect it to kind of blow up all over social media, by any means," she says.

PHF Chairman addresses commissioner search, Digit Murphy hiring, expansion and more - NBC
On Her Turf interviewed Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) Chairman John Boynton about the timeline for announcing a new commissioner, league expansion, the decision to hire Digit Murphy, and the role of BTM Partners in league governance.

Tom Renney steps down as CEO of Hockey Canada, to be replaced by Scott Smith | CBC
Hockey Canada executed an uncomplicated succession plan in its leadership, naming Scott Smith the next chief executive officer to replace the retiring Tom Renney.

Ty Voit and Braeden Kressler are playoff bound

The OHL playoffs start tonight too. Maple Leafs draft pick Ty Voit who is the leading scorer on the Sarnia Sting will join his team for game #1 against the Windsor Spitfires starting at 7:05 p.m.. I don’t think this series will be televised, but if you know better, post the details in the comments.