Boston wins Clarkson Cup, Boucher given the boot and Crosby’s Gretzky-like season

The Boston Blades defeated the Montreal Stars 5-2 yesterday to capture the Clarkson Cup and end Montreal’s two-season run as champions of the Canadian Women’s League. Boston was outshot 42-34 in the game, but were able to pull out a victory on the strength of four power play goals on nine opportunities. Genevieve Lacasse stopped 40 shots and, with the game tied at two midway through the second frame, Kelley Steadman proceded to record a natural hat trick to preserve the first Clarkson Cup for Boston. Jenn Schoullis (two goals) and Kacey Bellamy (three assists) also had a big hand in the victory.

The Boston Blades have captured the fifth Clarkson Cup. (Genevieve2/Wikimedia Commons)

The Boston Blades have captured the fifth Clarkson Cup and more importantly continue to make the women’s game more popular. (Genevieve2/Wikimedia Commons)

Boston also had the top regular season record, going 19-4-1, and the league’s top goal scorer as Hilary Knight tied Ann-Sophie Bettez of Montreal with 17 goals. Lacasse was the top goalie of the regular season, leading the CWHL with 13 wins, a 1.26 goals-against average and .925 save percentage.

The victory was just as big, if not more so, for women’s hockey as it was for the Blades. Little by little the women’s game continues to get stronger as more girls are signing up to play this great game. From Adam Proteau of The Hockey News:

But for as happy as Blades players and staff were to win the Clarkson Cup, CWHL brass were just as pleased at the steps forward the league has taken. In addition to the crowd in attendance, Canadian sports TV giant TSN broadcast the game, and rink board advertising and corporate support grew again.

It isn’t as if CWHL players will be paid a living wage anytime soon, but step by step, they are building the infrastructure for future generations to better appreciate women’s hockey. To that end, they’re already succeeding: a large portion of the crowd was comprised of young female players and participation in the women’s game has never been better.

“We’re laying a good foundation for the years that are ahead,” (CWHL president Brenda) Andress said. “We’re branding for the kids and the community, so all the money involved goes back into the sport.”

The Clarkson Cup title capped off a brilliant season for the Boston franchise: leading scorer and American star Hilary Knight was named league MVP and Boston had the CWHL’s best regular-season record – one win better than the Stars. Murphy believes the organization will be able to build on their success and make the women’s game more visible south of Canada’s border.

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The Tampa Bay Lightning have fired coach Guy Boucher today. They struggled since their surprise run to Game 7 of the 2011 Eastern Conference final. Last year’s 10th place finish was chalked up to a depleted defense and aging Dwayne Roloson in net, but they were supposed to be a top contendor this year. Tampa currently sits 14th in the Eastern Conference with a 13-17-1 record and have lost 10 of their past 14 games after starting the season 6-1.

From TSN, here are Lightning GM Steve Yzerman’s comments on the decision to fire Boucher:

“I’m not satisfied with the direction our hockey club is going,” general manager Steve Yzerman told reporters in Winnipeg. “This isn’t a reaction, a desperate act, to try to make the playoffs, although that is still our hope.

“It is done with not only the short term, but more importantly, the long term of our organization, where we’re going and where we want to get to (in mind).”

Boucher’s record in two-and-a-half seasons in Tampa is 97-78-20 in the regular season and 11-7 in the playoffs, including an eight-game win streak

According to Bob McKenzie on Twitter, former Buffalo Sabres bench boss Lindy Ruff is the frontrunner for the job.

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The numbers may be pretty far off, but taking account for the different eras the three have played in, Sidney Crosby is putting up points this season on a level compared to Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun explains why Crosby’s and Gretzky’s numbers aren’t nearly as far off as they appear to be at first glance:

Crosby is scoring at 1.62 points per game, a number that would give him 133 points were this a full season of play. And while that doesn’t seem anywhere near Wayne Gretzky’s record total of 215 points in a season or Mario Lemieux’s best number at 199 points, it does when you take into account the difference in the game Crosby is playing.

In Crosby’s current NHL, there are 5.57 goals scored in the average game. In Gretzky’s 1985-86 season, there were 2.4 more goals per game than currently are being scored. In Lemieux’s 1988-89 season, the average game had almost two more goals than today’s game does. And that’s not even take into account the difference in the quality of goaltending (and goaltending equipment) and the change in coaching.

What Crosby is producing may not be better than anything Gretzky and Lemieux managed, but it’s certainly historical and in the conversation: And it’s ahead, when factoring in the way the game has changed, of just about everybody other than Lemieux or Gretzky who has played before him.

To do the math for you, the 1985-86 season featured 7.94 goals per game, 1.425 times as many goals per game as this season. Taking into account Crosby’s current season pace and the percentage difference, he would be on pace to post 47-143-190 over an 82-game season.

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