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2019 Clarkson Cup Preview: Calgary vs Montréal

Two heavyweights face off in the finals

Shanna Martin-Book/CWHL

For the third time in four years, the (1) Calgary Inferno and (2) Les Canadiennes de Montréal will face off in the Clarkson Cup final.

How to watch

  • When - Sunday, March 24 at noon ET/9 a.m. PT
  • Where - Cola-Cola Center in Toronto
  • Broadcast - Sportsnet, TVA Sports, NHL Network

The game had previously been announced as on Sportsnet, as it was last season. On Tuesday, Les Canadiennes announced in a press release that TVA Sports will also be broadcasting the game but in French. On Thursday, the CWHL released the game will also shown on NHL Network, allowing fans in the US the ability to watch as Sportsnet is typically geoblocked.

Working the game will be an all-female broadcast crew of Toronto Furies forward Natalie Spooner, Jennifer Botterill, Leah Hextall, Cassie Campbell, Nikki Reyes, and Caroline Cameron.

Showing the game live on all three channels is huge, especially the addition of NHL Network. Not only does it allow US fans to watch, but it has the potential to open the door to a new fan base. NHL Network picked up the TSN feed for the Rivalry Series, so expect to be shown the Sportsnet feed in the US as well.

Season Series

The Inferno hold the season series edge 4-2, Les Canadiennes’ two wins came in the first and last meetings of the season and were half of the Inferno’s total losses on the season. Les Canadiennes lost six games on the season, with the majority of them obviously coming to the Inferno.

The goals are much closer at 16-14, with Calgary in the lead.

In Clarkson Cup finals, the teams are tied as each has won against each other once. In 2016, their first meeting and the Inferno’s first cup appearance, Calgary won by a commanding score of 8-3. The next year, Montréal avenged their loss winning, 3-1.

Both of these teams saw mid-season coaching changes, though weren’t slowed down by it. On November 26, 2018, Montréal’s Dany Brunet stepped down from the team. On December 5, 2018, the team named Caroline Ouellette and Daniele Sauvageau as associate coaches. On December 6, 2018, Shannon Miller left the Inferno, only five months into her first season with the team. Ryan Hiddleman stepped into finish the season, leading to his nomination for Coach of the Year.

Players to watch

Marie-Philip Poulin is always a player to watch, but this time it’s to see if she’ll play. Poulin was injured in Montréal’s final game of the season and didn’t dress at all in their semifinal series. With the IIHF World Championships on the horizon, it will be interesting to see if the captain comes back for the trophy game or is still out with the lower-body injury. She’s scored five goals and notched five assists — including three multipoint games and two two-goal games — when these two teams met in the regular season.

Even without their captain, Montréal’s depth is incredible — 14 of their skaters hit the scoresheet in their semifinal series. Leading the way was Hilary Knight with eight points (4g, 4a). However, against Calgary and her Team USA teammates, Knight has struggled only putting two points in the season series (1g, 1 a).

Ann-Sophie Bettez was quieter in the semifinal with only one assist in three games after a regular season that saw her put up 48 points in 26 games. In the regular season series, Bettez put up 10 points (3g, 7a). In eight of those instances, Poulin was involved as well. But bet on Bettez to still find a way in the big game.

Rebecca Johnston, the Calgary’s captain, has been on fire against Montréal. She found the back of the net four times against them in the regular season. In the semifinal series, she had two points (1g - 1a).

A premier passer and goal scorer, Brianna Decker, will line up against her longtime teammate Knight for the first time in a championship game. Her two goals and three assists in the regular season game are second-best on the team against the Montréal. Her 26 points and 12 goals in the regular season tied her for third in Calgary in each category.

Between the pipes

Alex Rigby started every game between these two teams in the regular season. Her first season in the league was impressive — she finished was a save percentage of .916 and a goals against average of 2.04.

Emerance Maschmeyer started all but one of the game against Calgary — she had a league-best 15 wins this season and a save percentage of .935. Her goals against average is 1.45. In short, she’s been lights out this season.

In the semifinals, the two were separated by .002 percentage points in save percentages. They saw almost equal shots — 50 for Maschmeyer and 49 for Rigsby — and each only let up four goals.

Prediction

Honestly, I have no idea who is going to win. I think it will be a goaltending battle with a low score. The season series of goals were close, and all of the games were decided by more more than two goals. Someone is going to win, 2-1, and that’s the most predicting you’ll get out of me.