Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Calgary Inferno 4-3 win over the Toronto Furies @ 11:00am
Montreal Stars 4-3 win over the Boston Blades @ 7:30pm
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Boston Blades 5-3 win over the Toronto Furies @ 11:00am
Montreal Stars 5-2 win over the Calgary Inferno @ 7:30pm
Friday, March 21, 2014
Montreal Stars 4-2 win over the Toronto Furies @ 11:00am
Boston Blades 4-3 win over the Calgary Inferno @ 7:30pm
Clarkson Cup Final, Saturday, March 22, 2014
Boston Blades 4-3 win over the Montreal Stars @ 2:00pm
The late season additions of Hilary Knight, Meghan Duggan, Kacey Bellamy, Kelli Stack and Genevieve Lacasse will help to differentiate Boston from Toronto and Calgary. However the Montreal Stars will add the gold medal winning captain of Team Canada, Caroline Ouellette back into the lineup as well. Even with the development of Ann-Sophie Bettez as the top offensive threat in the CWHL this season, the Stars offense may be outmatched with the Blades in the final.
The Stars had eight players with 10 or more points prior to the return of Ouellette, while the Blades had nine players with 10 or more points prior to the return of their Olympians. Knight is likely the best player in the Clarkson Cup Tournament and is good for a point per game pace. While Duggan, Bellamy and Stack would all provide at least 10 points over the course of a CWHL season.
Granted the following numbers are from the regular season without the aforementioned players for both teams. However they do paint a picture of the relative strengths of Boston vs. Montreal.
Montreal has been the class of the CWHL this season in terms of puck possession. They have 63% shots for as opposed to Boston’s 48% shots for (shots for % is the best measure of puck possession in the CWHL currently).
The Stars have also been the most disciplined team this season taking nearly half as many penalty minutes as the Blades. The Stars have taken -2.9 penalty minutes per game over the league average and the Blades have taken -1.5 minutes.
The last indicator of that Montreal has the edge over Boston is their special teams. In the Bowman Rating (PP% plus PK%) the Stars were at 113% while the Blades were 96%, so there is a clear advantage for Montreal in this area.
If the Blades are to take down the Stars their goaltending and returning Olympians will need to be the difference in this game.
Through the regular season Boston’s Brittany Ott started 17 games providing 10 wins and 76% quality starts, with a 2.63 GAA and 0.921 SV%. When adjusted for quality of competition she was the best goaltender in the CWHL with a 2.56 ADJGAA and 0.916 ADJSV%. Granted with the return of Geneviève Lacasse the Blades may opt to go with the Olympian in the Clarkson Cup Final.
The Stars best goaltender was Catherine Herron through 18 games getting 14 wins and 56% quality starts, with a 2.11 GAA and 0.908 SV%. When her stats are adjusted for quality of competition she has a 2.09 GAA and 0.902 SV%, good for sixth out of 12 goaltenders in the CWHL.
While the numbers from the regular season point to a Montreal Stars victory, the potential return of five key Olympians for the Boston Blades should tilt the scales to their favor and have them repeat as Clarkson Cup Champions.
Regardless of the outcome, this is sure to be a great end to the CWHL 2013-14 season. Be sure to tune into the live stream of every game and watch the Clarkson Cup Final on TSN.