The 2019 Clarkson Cup Playoffs are starting this Friday with two Game Ones. The first game of this year’s playoffs features a fascinating matchup between the defending Clarkson Cup Champion Markham Thunder and the lethal offense of Les Canadiennes de Montreal.
- Game One: Thunder at Les Canadiennes | Fri. March 8, 7:30 p.m. et
- Game Two: Thunder at Les Canadiennes | Sat. March 9, 6:00 p.m. et
- Game Three (if necessary): Thunder at Les Canadiennes | Sun. March 10, 1:30 p.m. et/
Game Two will be streamed by the CWHL. Game One and Game Three if necessary will be streamed on Les Canadiennes YouTube.
Les Canadiennes took the season series, 4-2, and outscored the reigning champions, 25 - 8.
Their first regular season series — and biggest blowouts — was in the second weekend of the season. Montreal tagged them for staggering 13 goals in that weekend. After that, the games stayed tight for the most part with the exception of a 6-2 Montreal win.
It’s no secret what a key to a Markham victory here is: keep Montreal’s goal scoring down. The two game they won were 2-1 and 3-2. If the Thunder can contain Montreal’s firepower they have a fighting chance here.
Montreal by far has an advantage on home ice, with an 11-3-1 record. They’ve also outscored opponents 59-25 at home. However, Markham is one of those few home losses for Montreal on Feb. 24, late in the season.
Players to Watch
How do you not watch Victoria Bach? The Thunder rookie finished the regular season with 32 points, tied for fourth overall in the league and the most of any rookie by eight points. She leads the Thunder in points by seven. Her 19 goals on the season tied her for second in the league.
Look for Jamie Lee Rattray and Laura Stacey to bring the veteran firepower as well. They both finished with 25 points this season, and Rattray’s 12 goals tied her for sixth in the league.
Montreal’s depth can’t be understated enough: every skater hit the scoresheet at least once, 11 players finished the season with double digit points, and 20 players scored goals.
Like always Marie-Philip Poulin and Ann-Sophie Bettez are ones to watch. Mélodie Daoust is back from an injury and posted seven points in the final four games (including two three-point games against the Worcester Blades).
Between the Pipes
Emerance Maschmeyer shouldered almost all of Les Canadiennes’ goaltending time, as Genevieve Lacasse was out injured for part of the season. Maschmeyer finished with a league best goals against average of 1.45 and only allowed 29 goals all season. She’s long been a difference maker for Montreal and you should look for her to continue that in this series.
Erica Howe was a solid goaltender for the Thunder, playing 1,149 minutes in net for them. Her stats seem incongruent with her play, as a 2.56 goals against average seems high. Howe will have to pull out all the stops in the series to get the Thunder back to the Finals for a chance to repeat as Clarkson Cup champions.
I think this series will go to three games, but Montreal will win. The depth of Montreal’s line up will overwhelm Markham with the quick short turnarounds of a three game series in three days. Maschmeyer will continue to shut down the Thunder’s offense — Bach only scored in one game in the regular season series.