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Saturday’s Dump & Chase: Stuck in the Middle with You

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The Central Division, as always, is a nervewracking place to be.

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

2021 NCAA Men’s Hockey Championship Preview | On the Forecheck
Eric and Bobby preview the men's NCAA hockey championship--catch up if you missed it (and if you read it the minute it dropped, we've got a COVID-19 update in there; Michigan will not be participating).

The Takeaway: Wisconsin tops the nation again | The Ice Garden
Some NCAA women's hockey news, plus some interesting thoughts from Gabriella Fundaro about whether a player can be too good to be recognized.

Isobel Cup News & Notes

NWHL Isobel Cup Semi-Final Recap | The Ice Garden
The Isobel Cup Final starts at 7PM Central today. Who's ready for a little picture-in-picture hockey?

Whitecaps roll right back into Isobel Cup | ProHockeyTalk
I really feel for the Whale. Those called-back early goals are killer to the morale (and to fans’ hopes, as I think we all know).

NWHL Takeaways: Thunstrom will be dangerous vs. Pride in Isobel Cup | Sportsnet.ca
I don't love that--a year and an intervening season later--it's the same two teams that were supposed to compete last year, but single-elimination tournaments can get weird. I'll be sad if the NWHL turns into just Boston vs. Minnesota, though.

Other News & Notes

NHL Power Rankings - 1-31 poll, plus a bold second-half prediction for every team | ESPN
Emily Kaplan predicts some trades, and one non-trade, for the (ouch) #25 Preds.

Canadian government officially approves 7-day quarantine for NHL players | Sportsnet.ca
"The federal government has waived its mandatory 14-day quarantine period for players acquired by Canadian NHL teams from U.S. clubs "under national interest grounds" ahead of the league's April 12 trade deadline."

National interest grounds.

As of now, of the more populated provinces of Canada, Quebec has the highest COVID-19 vaccination rate, at 13%. I am not really clear on how a hockey trade is a matter of grave national interest to Canada, at the moment.

Shannon Doyle: On the playoffs, the Pod, and leaving the game in a far better place | The Ice Garden
"I never want to come up short in giving my girls every chance to reach their dreams of playing college hockey, making their national team, or playing in an NWHL that’s only going to be stronger when it’s their turn. I don’t want to miss one of their games, or any practices, or even an important phone call from them."

Canadiens get much-needed safety valve with Eric Staal addition | Sportsnet.ca
An East Division executive went anonymous to tell Sportsnet's Eric Engels that he thinks Staal will score more goals with the Montreal Canadiens than he was with the Buffalo Sabres.

Relatedly, who remembered Eric Staal was playing for the Buffalo Sabres? Between him and Jeff Skinner it's like some nightmare the 2014 Carolina Hurricanes might've had before realizing, whew, at least they weren't the Sabres.

Behind the Numbers: Pareto’s Principle, Power Law Distribution, and when tracking data does not matter | Hockey Graphs
As someone who gets frustrated thinking about all the good data that the people with access to SportsLogiq have access to while I (we) don't, this was a very reassuring article.

Sabres coaches Granato, Ellis cleared from COVID protocol | ProHockeyTalk
If Kevyn Harris had managed to get the Sabres out of their skid, would they have made him coach every game?

Matthew Tkachuk of Calgary Flames is first NHL player to release NFT, will auction it off for charity | ESPN
I hate every single part of this headline more than the last (okay, the charity part isn't bad, but NFTs are an environmental disaster and Matthew Tkachuk is...not my favorite person).

How Rod Brind'Amour is motivating the Carolina Hurricanes in strange 2021 NHL season | ESPN
Sadly, whatever he's doing isn't something that can apply to me, also having a strange 2021.