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Could poor discipline doom the Pride?

Early showings of penalty kill leave more to be desired from Isobel Cup champs

Boston’s tendency to find themselves in the penalty box could be their weak link this season.
Al Saniuk

The Boston Pride are a pretty solid team. They boast an offense that includes names like Hilary Knight, Brianna Decker, Meghan Duggan and Jillian Dempsey. They have a defense stacked with the likes of Lexi Bender and Gigi Marvin, among others. Their goaltending trio of Brittany Ott, Lauren Slebodnick and Natalie Robinson could be mistaken for a brick wall or three. With a team that boasts the kind of skill and talent that the Pride have, it's hard to imagine them having any weaknesses.

But a chink in the Pride's armor may have showed during the preseason, when the Pride struggled on the penalty kill, allowing three power play goals in games against Team Russia and Boston College.

Penalty Pattern

Now, it should be noted that Boston is no stranger to time in the box. Last season the team combined for a total of around 180 penalty minutes. When you divide that by the number of games played in the regular season (18), you get an average of 10 penalty minutes a game.

This preseason, the Pride had 24 total penalty minutes. That's an average of 12 a game. The first two games of the season, they had a combined total of 20 penalty minutes, an average of 10 a game. So far, it keeps up with their pattern from last season (but keep in mind we're only two games into the regular season).

Something or Nothing?

Whether down a man or full strength, the roster is still a dangerous one. Coach Bobby Jay seems to have his systems in check, and he knows what unit should play at each shift. It's still too early to tell if giving up so much time on the penalty kill will hurt the Pride. Right now, they seem to be holding on fine. However, a pattern's developing, and it's developing early. We're seeing a handful of the same players head to the box each game (we’re looking at you, Meghan Duggan). In both preseason and regular season, key players like Kacey Bellamy, Alyssa Gagliardi and Gigi Marvin have gone to penalty box frequently, which doesn’t only leave the Pride a player short, it takes a key player off the bench who could kill the penalty off.

Preseason and regular season included, save for one game, they've given up at least one power play goal to their opponents so far. Chink in the armor exposed, it wouldn't be hard at all for teams to capitalize on this visible weakness and figure out a game plan to make Boston's penalty kill work against them.

Fans may take comfort in the fact that with last year's penalty trouble the team turned out fine. However, this is the sophomore season. Pieces have shifted. What the Beauts, Whale and Riveters couldn't capitalize on last year maybe they can this year. Pride fans may also take comfort in the fact it's still early, and there's plenty of time to turn things around.

It's something to watch as the season goes on. If the Pride is the league's equivalent to Superman, this could be their Kryptonite.