After a rocky few games, PWHL Boston returns to action tonight as they face off against Ottawa for the first time this season. Here’s everything you need to know before the puck drops.
The Basics: Wednesday, January 24 @ OTT- 7 p.m. EST, TD Place, Ottawa, ON (TSN, PWHL Youtube Channel)
What to Expect
Last week was a roller coaster for Boston. They got outplayed by Toronto for most of the game Wednesday but ultimately found a way to win, and then they outplayed New York for most of the game Saturday but found a way to lose. The team is not happy with their inconsistency so far this season, and they’ll be looking to start righting the ship tonight against Ottawa.
Meanwhile, Ottawa is coming into this game on the second half of a back-to-back after beating Toronto last night 3-1 (including an empty-net goal). They’ve looked good in their four games so far and are undefeated in regulation, but they’ve had a bit of a problem closing out games and sit 2-0-2-0 on the season. Ottawa is not a team to take lightly, and it will require a full 60-minute effort from Boston to walk out of this one with a win.
It is unclear who will be in goal for Ottawa tonight. It is a bit difficult to believe they would start star goalie Emerance Maschmeyer in both games of a back-to-back, but goaltending depth could be a problem for this team. Sandra Abstreiter has been backing Maschmeyer up, and while she was great for Providence College and ECDC Memmingen back home in Germany, it is unclear how she will handle this level of talent. Her international numbers aren’t the best, but Germany also isn’t a highly competitive team, so while it bears mentioning, it’s hard to pin it all on her. Regardless, their goaltending depth is the biggest question mark on the roster. They need to start Abstreiter - or third goaltender Rachel McQuigge - eventually and there’s no better time than in a back-to-back, but there’s still a chance they go back to Maschmeyer.
As for Boston, expect Aerin Frankel to get the start. Emma Söderberg was pulled in Saturday’s game; although it appeared to be a move to get the team’s attention more than anything, it would be surprising to see them return to her tonight. That said, it isn’t impossible. Head coach Courtney Kessel surprised many by starting her on Saturday, so she could have more tricks up her sleeve, especially with Minnesota coming to town this weekend. But at the end of the day, Frankel is their number-one goaltender. They trust her the most, and Boston could use a win in this game to start building some confidence, so it simply makes sense to start her.
Boston’s Key to the Game
Play a full 60 minutes. This was an easy choice. Boston has yet to give a full 60-minute effort, and it has come back to bite them several times. The starts of many of their periods, and especially their second periods, have been slow. They have made nothing easy on themselves in this young season. Players and coaches alike were frustrated by it after Saturday’s game, and it was surely a focus in practice this week. Boston has shown flashes of what they are capable of when everyone is playing to their best abilities, but it’s time to start stringing that together for a full game. If they can’t do that, they won’t leave Ottawa with a win tonight.