The Boston Blades you see today are not the same team that suffered through a dismal 2015-16 season. With only a pair of points to their name that came as the result of a shootout win, last season was a bleak one.
While two wins and an overtime loss 14 games into this season may sound unimpressive, coming from a team that struggled so mightily last year, Boston is more than showing signs of life — they’re showing that they’re going to put up a fight.
In the end, scoring goals is more important for a team that is still very much in its rebuilding stage, and that is precisely what they’ve been doing. With more goals scored in 14 games than in the entirety of their 24-game campaign last year, the Blades are definitely finding their legs, and their confidence is building as a result.
With 10 goals in six games during the month of December, the steady improvements are there to see, even if they aren’t necessarily stringing the wins together. But rest assured that those will start to come.
What they do need to work on in addition to their offence is the back end, as they have struggled to find consistency with their rookie starter, Lauren Dahm. But as we all know too well, you can’t rely on your goaltender to do all the work. Boston has allowed 678 shots in 14 games, an average just under 50 shots per game. That’s more than double Montreal’s 21.85 average.
When it comes to competing against a team like Les Canadiennes de Montréal, they'll definitely need to start putting all of these little pieces together.
As has largely been the case on every occasion these teams have met in the past two seasons, Montreal’s last weekend series against Boston in early December is probably another set of games the Blades would like to forget. Montreal outscored Boston 15-0 in the two games, who were confronted with a teaspoon of adversity as they dropped three of four games in the latter half of November.
The team ended the year with an emotion-high Heritage Classic series against the Calgary Inferno, which had been the first time these two league-leading clubs had met since the Clarkson Cup final in March 2016.
Though they ended up splitting the series, Montreal skated out of the Saturday afternoon Bell Centre game with a victory (and a shutout) to mark an historic occasion. In a matchup between two very offensively and defensively gifted teams, the results were either going to be marginally absurd with goals at each end, or a showdown between goaltenders to see who would crack first, if at all. The Heritage Classic saw very much of the latter, as captain Marie-Philip Poulin was the only goal scorer and Charline Labonté (and Emerance Maschmeyer) put on quite a show in Saturday’s game in front of 6,000 fans.
The Sunday afternoon back at Centre Étiennes-Desmarteaux told a different tale, as things opened up quite a bit in comparison to the previous game. A bittersweet day for veteran Caroline Ouellette who notched her 300th career point — a first in women’s hockey — as Montreal would go on to fall 5-3 to the visiting team.
Goals were traded at both ends of the ice, but Montreal was unable to stand back up after a three-goal punch at latter half of the second and beginning of the third frames. Karell Emard would also score early in the third, but it would be the last goal of the day, with a little over 16 minutes left to play.
Les Canadiennes are looking to get back to their winning ways this weekend with back to back games across the border.
Puck drop is at 5:30PM on Saturday and 2:30PM on Sunday at the Walter Brown Arena in Boston. If you’re in the Boston area, tickets can be purchased here.