If you’re the Boston Blades, you might look at a weekend of back to back matches against Les Canadiennes de Montréal with just a tickle of dread. And it’s not a wonder why — last season, the Montreal club put up 44 goals in 6 games against the Blades.
To make matters worse for Boston, they only managed to put up a single goal against Montreal in those same six games.
The last time these teams met in late February 2016 for the final two games of the season, Montreal’s offence didn’t give the Blades very much breathing room between goals, as they allowed only 27 shots in 6 periods.
Although Boston came into the season with higher expectations, it has yet to have any tangible progress. Through four games, the team a single point to their name due to an overtime loss. It doesn’t help that Canadian Olympian and Blades captain Tara Watchorn has only played in one of the team’s four games.
While nowhere near the offensive prowess of Les Canadiennes, there is still reason for hope, as they have been producing relatively consistently since the start of the season in comparison to the last. If the Blades can keep up the same pace, they can be among the most improved teams in the CWHL as they try and rebuild their program without Canadian national team goaltender Geneviève Lacasse.
At the other end of the ice and the standings, Les Canadiennes are unsurprisingly currently in a neck in neck battle for the CWHL’s top spot. With a 4-0-0 record in this young season, Montreal has been steadily producing with key contributions from their captain and the top two lines as well as their rookie skaters.
But there’s always room for improvement. Montreal’s powerplay is currently sitting fourth in the league with 9.1% efficiency — nowhere near last season’s effectiveness — but if they can get that rolling, there will likely be no stopping them. It’s difficult to stop them even when they’re not scoring with the advantage.
Captain Marie-Philip Poulin and her teammates will be battling it out in front of Poulin’s friends and family in her home region of Beauce. The region is also home to Canadiennes assistant coach and CWHL co-founder (and former team captain) Lisa-Marie Breton-Lebreux.
It is the first game outside of the Greater Montreal Area for Les Canadiennes, who also announced their first game at the Bell Centre to come in December. The Centre Sportif Lacroix-Dutil has hosted women’s hockey’s best before as it held a post-Olympic game in 2014 and the town loved it.
“I brought a couple girls there and we played a game, and the rink was packed. People really enjoyed it and the girls who organized that game really wanted for us, Les Canadiennes, to come and play there. It worked out, and I'm really happy for that.”
For her part, Montreal’s captain is very excited to get another opportunity to play so close to where she grew up.
"It's really exciting. I think it's gonna be really fun to be around my family, and being able to have my family's support there, and my grandparents. It should be fun. I think it's going to be a good crowd."
Puck drop is at 7 PM EST on Saturday, and 1:30 PM EST on Sunday respectively. If you’re local to the area or are up for the three hour road trip from Montreal, you can catch the games live at Centre Sportif Lacroix-Dutil in St-Georges, QC. The team has announced that 1,200 tickets have already been sold for the two games.