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NWHL Mid-Season Report Card: Boston Pride

Grading the first half of the 2019–20 season for the undefeated first place team.

Pat McCarthy

After fifteen games of the NWHL season following an offseason of not really knowing what to expect, the Boston Pride sit at 15-0-0. They have played a near perfect game all season and lead the league in almost every positive stat you could find.

While the Pride have always been a dominant team, this is another level we have never seen before and they easily could become the first team to ever win two Isobel Cups and something more. What is the old baseball saying about not talking about a perfect game while it’s in progress? I’ll leave it at that.

Offense: A+

The Pride’s offense lights up a stat sheet like no other. There isn’t a single player on the team with a negative goal differential and as a team are +53. Their captain Jillian Dempsey not only leads the league in all-time goals but leads this season in points while teammate Christina Putigna leads in assists.

Having the big names lead certain statistics isn’t all that’s positive about the Pride’s offense either. It’s the depth the team has in their forwards. There is no easy line to play against and as the Riveters and Whale have learned uniquely, if you let your guard down for even a few minutes thinking whatever line is out there may give you an easy shift, you will be scored on.

The Pride’s third line which consists of rookie trio Lexie Laing, Carlee Toews, and Tori Sullivan have combined for 44 points. Yes, their third line. McKenna Brand who led the league in goals until this past weekend was also named the NWHL’s first ever Player of the Month. That honor was passed on to her teammate Mary Parker the following month as well. To say the least, they have been a dominant team.

Defense: A-

It’s tough to find one downside to this Pride team that haven’t lost a game yet and have only been down in a game twice the whole season. However, if there is one place where the Pride could improve, if only to prevent another shootout or allowance to let a team go up early in the first period, it’s the defense. I still wouldn’t rank it anywhere below an A-, they are undefeated after all.

The Pride are currently posting a 89 percent penalty kill rate which is phenomenal, but shows that they can have a slight weak side if attacked correctly. Just this past weekend, the last place Connecticut Whale were able to earn a point by taking the Pride to a shootout. Though they were able to come out of it with a win, it was a late period goal by Hannah Beattie that forced the overtime.

Teams are learning how to score on them and if they want to keep their perfect season intact, they may have to make adjustments.

Goaltending: A++

Lovisa Selander is no stranger to being the best goalie in her league. After breaking the NCAA all-time saves record, she’s very well on her way to do the same in the NWHL. She’s given up 19 goals, the least of any goalie who has played over 300 minutes, and leads the league with a .941 save percentage.

A key to the success of the Pride this season though, may come in their goaltending depth though. Former Boston University goalie Victoria Hanson is playing back up to Selander which in itself should show just how good they are. Hanson has started four games for the Pride and in almost 300 minutes of play is posting a .931 save percentage, only giving up 8 goals and earning the season’s first shutout. As the All-Star Game approaches, both of these goaltenders make a case for a roster spot.

That being said, Selander has only faced 306 shots on the season which is a testament to the Pride’s defense. However, what she’s done with those shots is provide a highlight reel an hour long.

Overall: A

I’ll admit I was a bit of a harsh grader when it comes to defense, but it’s a season that seems so perfect for the Boston team. Looking for a flaw in this team is incredibly hard and knowing that is the one spot they could, even slightly, improve on allowed me to drop them down just a little bit.

Overall this team is near-perfect and holding almost every record there is and have played pretty evenly against all four other teams. As long as Selander doesn’t stop making the incredible saves, and the forward depth they have doesn’t go cold, the Pride can easily make and win the Isobel Cup championship. Other teams are coming around and beginning to be able to score on them in high pressure situations which may be the only thing they sharpen up on.

After an undefeated half, the Pride are surely looking to repeat that with their remaining nine games and I think they absolutely can.