Buffalo Beauts (3) vs. Connecticut Whale (2) — at Chelsea Piers in Stamford, CT
SCHEDULE (best of three)
Game #1: Friday, March 4 at 7:10pm ET (Stream: Cross-Ice Pass)
Game #2: Saturday, March 5 at 7:30pm ET (Stream: Cross-Ice Pass)
NEED TO KNOW
1. The Whale hold both the top penalty kill (85.3%) and power play (21.3%) in the NWHL. They also have the record for the most shorthanded goals against at 8. Conversely, the Beauts have the distinction of scoring the most shorthanded goals for at 6. Half of Buffalo’s shorties came against the Whale.
2. In the 18 game NHWL season, Connecticut got out to the best start. In the first nine games, they were 8-1-0. For the back nine, they came down to earth with a 5-4-0 record. Three of the four losses came after the Whale made a coaching change.
3. The first period is where Buffalo struggles the most. This season, they’ve scored only 12 goals and allowed 23 goals against in the first period through 18 games. Connecticut has 19 first period goals for and only 11 against. Where the two teams even up is in the second and third periods. The Beauts goals for-against in the final two periods are 43-42 and the Whale are at 42-40.
4. Kelley Steadman is a non-roster (i.e. not paid) player for the Beauts. She has a life and a job outside the rink leaving her to play in only 13 games for the team this season. Steadman has 20 points in those 13 games, ranking her fifth in the NWHL points scoring race. She is dangerous. 5 of her 13 goals came against the Whale. Sitting above Steadman in the scoring race are Kelli Stack and Kelly Babstock of the Whale with 22 point each.
5. Through her own admission, Buffalo’s Brianne Mclaughlin has had a tough season. She really didn’t find her way until the second half of the year when her coach told her to shape up or give up her goaltending spot to her backup. On the opposite end is Jaimie Leonoff. She holds a 7-3-0 record and the best save percentage in the league at .936.
PREDICTION: WHALE IN 3. Buffalo has the propensity to come back, but they tend to dig themselves in a deep hole before they do.
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