This league is making power rankings really difficult. Every team has beat a team that has beat your team. There is not a club without at least three or four superstars and there’s no bottom of the barrel for clubs to beat up on. Wins are built on who’s on their game, who’s creative enough to find opportunities, and who has the greater fighting spirit.
By the way, in this holiday season post, I just want to say how thankful I am to have a fanpost section here. Lately, I’ve found myself having really strong hockey opinions, and it’s so cool to have this outlet. If you’re on the fence about posting or commenting, do yourself a favor and give it a shot! So thank you, Ice Garden, not only for your amazing reporting, but also for these opportunities to join the conversation.
Records: (Regulation Win - Overtime Win - Regulation Loss - OT Loss)
1. Boston Pride (Record: 5-2-2-0) (Last rank: 1)
There are so many reasons one could dislike the Pride, like always being at the top, scooping up unreasonably good talent every year or, after a mediocre regular season, suddenly winning in a playoff weekend. But there’s one part of Boston that no one can hate: Jillian Dempsey. The highest scoring player in the history of the PHF recently got her first (how is this possible?) hat trick. Of course the third goal was the game winner. Dempsey is all class: a competitor and a leader that everyone respects. Her teammates tweet about how much they love playing with her and wear shirts with her name on it. And that’s my post on why the Pride are still number one in the power rankings.
2. Toronto Six (Record 6-1-1-2) (Last rank: 2)
This team just finds goals when they need them. I’m sorry if you wanted to win this game, but Brittany Howard has decided you really don’t need to. Toronto’s identity has always revolved around great chemistry, and it just seems like it’s on another level this year. Their puck possession makes it hard for other teams to get offensive time, and then when they don’t have the puck, they put on a lot of pressure. Everyone is stepping up precisely when they’re needed, and it’s allowing their talent to shine through.
3. Metropolitan Riveters (Record 3-1-6-0) (Last rank: 4)
Welcome to team chaos. Against Minnesota, they managed to turn a four-on-three power play into a three-on-five penalty kill. But they’re also the first club to defeat Toronto at home. And they looked really good against Connecticut on Saturday. I’ve read Mike Murphy’s "Film Room" on Minttu Tuominen at least three times (check it out, it’s really good), and I’m starting to realize that I seriously underestimated the Rivs new talent. Sprinkle in a mid season Katie Burt signing and this team is officially scary. There have been some bumps along the road, but the Riv’s ceiling is as high as any in the league.
4. Minnesota Whitecaps (Record 4-0-4-2) (Last rank: 6)
This is more like the Minnesota Whitecaps we know: fast and furious. Defense, quick question, would you rather the nonstop train that is Jonna Albers crashing your corner, or get your pocket picked by Sydney Brodt? Don’t cough it up or Natalie Snodgrass is going to snipe. In a Christmas sweater. On her birthday! So why only 4? First, there are no ties in power rankings, and second, I feel like the Caps are a little one dimensional. Whitecaps hockey begins and ends with speed and pressure. Now, the Whitecaps are really good at this, and when a team can counter this strategy, they still have to deal with Lev. So, while, yes, the Caps swept the Rivs, if I were a coach planning to play a team, I feel like I would have an easier time preparing for Minnesota, than I would for Metropolitan, because I have a much better idea of what to expect. Then again, perhaps consistency, and knowing your identity is a good thing. Either way, the Whitecaps are definitely trending in the right direction.
5. Connecticut Whale (Record 3-0-3-1) (Last rank: 3)
You know who the Whale remind me of? The Boston Pride from last year. That team had expectations of dominance, but they really struggled in the regular season. And, just like this Whale team, they put tons and tons of shots on net while struggling to actually score goals. Now, we’re seeing glimpses of last year’s brilliance. Their last game before break was huge, but it was also a struggle. Their first game back, they play Metropolitan. I think that will give us a good sense of what direction they'll be moving in this year.
6. Montreal Force (Record 2-2-4-0) (Last rank: 5)
The most consistent team in the league is finding wins, but they’re also finding losses. Going .500 has left them losing ground in the standings. They’re a really interesting study in this more complicated points system. If all wins were counted the same, they would be ahead of the Whale and Riveters in the standings. As it stands, they know how to win a shootout, but all their losses have been in regulation. That being said, what this team really needs is to find two wins in a row, a very difficult achievement in this league. In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying catching their games because, if nothing else, the Force keep it exciting.
7. Buffalo Beauts (Record 1-0-4-1) (Last rank: 6)
We finally have Buckey’s first goal, and, of course, it was sensational! But what if, now bear with me here, the Beauts had consecutive weekends of games to start the season and we got it way earlier? Think of how this team felt after that first weekend against Montreal. Imagine if they had the opportunity to carry it into the weekend that followed, and then another after that? The thing is, even if their games against Connecticut weren’t postponed, the Beauts still would have had a seriously spread out schedule. I guess they’ll make up for it with six games between January 14 and January 22. Enough complaining about the schedule. While the Beauts couldn’t force overtime against the two best teams in the league, they didn’t make life easy for them. Three out of four games were close. Giving up the lead against Toronto hurts though. At this point, it’s pretty simple: they need wins. They have the talent. They have games to play. It’s time for the Beauts to show the league what they can do.