Boston Pride notebook: Looking beyond the Four Nations break

With all of their national team members coming back with gold from Four Nations, the question remains: Can the Pride keep up their incredible play?

The Boston Pride will be back in action on Saturday as the NWHL resumes after a two week hiatus. Boston will be back at home at Warrior Ice Arena to face the Connecticut Whale, the lone team they are yet to play this season. While the Pride have been rolling all season, they still have a few things to address, such as injuries and a lacking power play.

  • Is Hilary Knight about to return? She played well in the Four Nations Cup, scoring twice in the final, but has yet to don a Pride sweater this season. The Pride have found offensive success anyways, and have yet to lose a game, but to bring back the co-captain would change the entire dynamic. Brianna Decker also had a strong tournament with four assists, and the co-captains back together would make the Pride a force.
  • Can the rookies keep it up? Alex Carpenter and Lexi Bender have been huge parts of this Pride team since joining the roster. If Knight gets back in the lineup, does Carpenter see the same amount of ice time? This week against Connecticut will be interesting to see. Meanwhile, Bender is already a leader on the blueline and has played well with fellow former Boston College Eagle Blake Bolden. The duo of Boston rookies have impressed in a year where BC grads are littering the league.
  • Pride goalie prospect Ann-Renée Desbiens is having herself a season with Wisconsin. Now 11-0, the Badgers goalie is having a historic year after she earned her 44th career shutout, the most for any collegiate goalie, male or female, ever. The record came after a 6-0 victory over Bemidji State for her sixth shutout this season alone. The Pride are in good hands with Brittany Ott, but if Desbiens arrives, there’s going to be some competition.
  • Six Pride players return from the Four Nations Cup, more than any other NWHL team, but there’s still plenty of players who just had two weeks off from hockey. It will be interesting to see what kind of affect that had./

As mentioned in a column earlier in the week, second periods have been the Pride’s biggest weapon, but one of the biggest weaknesses has been the power play. Despite having the highest output in the league with 17 goals, the Pride have just one power play goal all season. Would Knight returning help that? Or do they need to reinvent how they play? The team will have a couple of practices this week before facing the Whale to work it out.