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CWHL Preview: Les Canadiennes Look To Rebound vs Thunder

After suffering their worst loss of the season, Les Canadiennes look to bounce back

CWHL/Jess Desjardins

It's weird to call last night's game Les Canadiennes' worst game of the season when they almost doubled the Brampton Thunder in shots, but the scoreboard did say 4-0. But when you only lose two of your first nine games, there aren't many options.

The last time that this happened, with a 5-4 loss to Calgary despite Montreal outplaying the Inferno, Les Canadiennes won 5-0 the next day. This time the task will be a little tougher with Charline Labonté out of both games this weekend with a lower body injury.

Last night, Brampton's Erica Howe made 39 saves for the shutout but the Thunder have split goaltending duties (both goaltenders had six starts in their first 12 games) this season. If they go that route, former Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawk Liz Knox would get the start. Knox is 4-1-1 with a 2.57 GAA and .921 save percentage. As a comparison, Howe is 5-2-0 with a 1.88 GAA and .933 save percentage (including last night).

For Montreal, I wouldn't be surprised to see Jessica Anderson make her first start of the season. Anderson was a 10th round pick this season and played three games in 2007-08 for the Quebec Phénix in the CWHL. She last played at Concordia University in the 2002-03 season.

Anderson last played in pre-season games for Les Canadiennes, splitting time with Sydney Aveson who made her second start yesterday. Aveson made 17 of 20 saves in last night's game (there was also an empty net goal).

Brampton has a four point lead over Montreal for second place in the CWHL but Montreal has four games in hand due to weird scheduling. Brampton has also played last-place Boston six times this year, going 6-0-0. Montreal has yet to play Boston this season.

Offensively, Les Canadiennes should expect to bounce back, especially if they get 40 shots again. Montreal has not been outshot this season. You have to wonder how much game-day travel affects the team on the ice. I wouldn't expect a team that has Marie-Philip PoulinCaroline Ouellette and Ann-Sophie Bettez to be silent for two straight games.

Brampton has several scorers at close to a point per game pace. Jamie Lee Rattray (8G-10A--18P) leads the way with Jess Jones (11G-6A--17P) a close second. Defenders Candice Styles and Canada National Team member Laura Fortino also have 11 and 12 points respectively in 13 games.

Face-off is at 1:30 p.m. at the Memorial Arena in Brampton. It is Les Canadiennes last game of the first half of the season. Their next regular season games will be January 2 and 3 at the Complexe Bell in Brossard against Boston.

There is still no official word of any participation in the Winter Classic after last week's report by Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman.