Les Canadiennes clinched first place in the CWHL last weekend with a 2-1 win over the Calgary Inferno on Sunday afternoon, marking Montreal's seventh Chairman's Award (awarded to the team with the best regular season record).
The playoff matchups are set. Les Canadiennes will host the Toronto Furies in a best-of-three semifinal matchup on February 26-27-28 (tickets are on sale by the way, and can be purchased here). But before they can start focusing on the Furies, they have to get past the Boston Blades.
Boston has had a tremendously difficult season, going from first to worst, and missing the playoffs the season after winning the Clarkson Cup. This may seem suspect to anyone who doesn't follow women's hockey, but the fact of the matter is that the Blades roster was heavily affected by the founding of the National Women's Hockey League in the off-season.
Many of the women who played for Boston last season moved over to the NWHL (in fact, only five girls who played on the Clarkson Cup winning team last season returned this year), leaving captain Tara Watchorn to pick up the pieces.
Despite the tremendous leadership from Watchorn, and the hard work and dedication put in by general manager Krista Patronick, Boston has been unable to notch one in the regulation win column. They've only managed one shootout victory this season, something they'll no doubt try to change this weekend when they come into Etienne-Desmarteau Arena.
Who should you look out for on the Blades side this weekend?
Rookie forward Erin Kickham leads the team with seven points this season but she's been held pointless in her last eight games. She's followed closely by Megan Myers and Tara Watchorn, who have six points a piece. But it's netminder Geneviève Lacasse who has been the superstar in Boston this season.
Photo Credit: CWHL/Angela Spagna
The Blades have given up a league worst 1,110 shots against this season; Lacasse only let 91 pucks get past her, stopping 952 others. Her .913 save percentage is nothing short of miraculous.
On the Montreal side, Ann-Sophie Bettez closed in on Marie-Philip Poulin's lead on the scoring title last weekend, and is now within three points of her teammate. It should be interesting to see who comes out on top between the two this weekend, with the Toronto Furies inactive, making Natalie Spooner's 30 point tally final.
The last time Boston and Montreal squared off was on January 16th and 17th, when Les Canadiennes beat the Blades 6-0 and 3-0, unable to get anything past backup goaltender Sydney Aveson.
Charline Labonté should get the start in goal for Montreal, while the Blades will likely counter with Lacasse. It's a 5:30 PM start time, and tickets are still available here.