They're Still My New York Team

"This is a completely different New York team; you can tell because they're still in the game."

It's the season opener for the New York Riveters against the Boston Pride. The Pride are the current Isobel Cup champions and are once again favorites with their insanely stacked roster. With a bit over 11 minutes to go in the third period, the Riveters have just cut the Pride's lead to 5-3, and the announcers declare that it is now a hockey game. Then one of them makes the above comment.

I, admittedly, sort of lost my cool. It felt pretty disrespectful coming from neutral announcers.

I'm not blind to the situation: The Riveters didn't have a great inaugural season. They ended up 4-12-2, and they were outscored 78-41. I know they had a lot to address over the summer, and then a lot to prove on the ice. There are a lot of new players on the team, the most promoted of whom is Amanda "Best" Kessel, and both our new forwards and blueliners are meant to be upgrades in our system.

Yes, it's a very different New York team this year. But a lot of players came back, too, and to suggest that the Riveters being "in the game" is something new and unheard of is really disrespectful.

Last season, the average goal differential per game was -2. I think most hockey fans would agree that a 2-goal lead is hardly secure in any particular game. Three of their four worst games, in terms of being outscored, were against the Pride. Overall, the Pride outscored the Riveters 29-10, with an average goal differential of -3.2. Even being 3 goals down isn't an impossible gap to bridge.

Adding to this differential is a large number of empty net goals scored on the Riveters. With my research partner, the irreplaceable Mike Murphy, we've done what we could without last year's official box scores available and found 6 empty netters in the regular season against the Riveters. Three of them turned a one-goal game to a two-goal game. Coach Wiseman deployed the extra forward often, always believing that his team had the chance to tie it up.

And then there's the piece that is conveniently forgotten: Half of the Riveters' wins—their first two for the season—were 3-2 wins over the Pride. The Riveters also beat the Buffalo Beauts twice, and they earned a point against the Connecticut Whale in a shootout loss. But they beat the Pride—twice. They were each one-goal victories, but they were regulation wins. (For comparison, the Pride went 14-3-1 last season, with losses against the Whale in regulation—right after the 2 losses to the Riveters—and against the Beauts in overtime. They then swept the postseason. They're a good team, I guess.)

So you take all that, and you see that the Pride—which is essentially the USWNT—lost twice to this "lowly team". There were some blowouts, but there were also some close games. The Riveters, with far less skill and star power, often held their own.

This is a different New York team. But the proof of that isn't in the fact that they kept a game close against a team that is not only stacked with talent but also practices together a lot more often with their Team USA duties. It's a different team because, like the other three teams in the league, some players left, and some new players came in.

And it's the same New York team, too. It's a team that thinks of itself as blue-collar hard workers. It's a team that doesn't. give. up. Even when they're down by 3 goals and pulling the goalie to try to get it down to 2 goals. They didn't give up last year, and don't expect them to do it this year.

Returning fans, you know who the Riveters are. So far, things aren't looking too different in the heart of the team, not with Captain Ashley "Stretch" Johnston leading them. This year, the addition of some skill, speed, and confidence should help support that heart, and soon everyone else will stop being so surprised when the Riveters are "in the game".


Note: This was posted to both Blueshirt Banter and The Ice Garden fanpost pages, because I'm crazy for attention, apparently.