PWHL Boston visits a struggling Toronto team tonight, as they look to build momentum after a huge overtime win in Montréal on Saturday.
The Basics: Wednesday, January 17, 2024- Boston at Toronto, 7 p.m. EST, Mattamy Athletic Centre, Toronto, ON (NESN, TSN, PWHL Youtube Channel)
What to Expect:
Boston won their first game of the season Saturday night in a massive comeback effort against an excellent Montréal team. It was just their second game of the season and came 10 days after they dropped their home opener 3-2 to a Minnesota team that has yet to lose in regulation. Meanwhile, Toronto has struggled to start the season. They’ve lost three of their four games, with their only win coming against New York, who has had an up-and-down start to the season.
One of Toronto’s biggest struggles has been speed. They haven’t been able to keep up with most teams, and they’ve been largely unable to adjust their systems accordingly. Meanwhile, Boston is still forming an identity, but they’ve shown they can hang with any team. Both teams have tinkered with lines in practice this week, as Toronto looks to shake off a sluggish start and Boston looks to unlock what could be a high-flying offense. Neither coach would reveal what lines they’re going with tonight, but if Boston plays like they did against Montréal, they should be fine.
According to Matt Porter of The Boston Globe, Emma Söderberg will get the start tonight for Boston.
This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone, as she likely would’ve gotten in against Ottawa had that game not been postponed last week. But, Boston understandably wanted to keep Frankel fresh, and they had probably planned on starting her against Montréal even before the postponement, so Söderberg’s debut was delayed. However, tonight she finally gets the chance to show why Boston has the league’s apparent best goaltending tandem, and it’s hard to imagine her disappointing.
Yesterday, Toronto head coach Troy Ryan confirmed to the Toronto Sun that he plans on going back to Kristen Campbell in net barring any unforeseen circumstances. Campbell has started all four games for Toronto this season, going 1-3-0 with a 3.63 GAA and 0.879 SV%. Those numbers are not good, but it isn’t all on Campbell, who has not had much support from the team in front of her. She was pulled last game after letting in three goals in the first period, and Erica Howe made her debut. Howe performed a bit better, letting in two goals over those 40 minutes and ending with a 3.00 GAA and 0.867 SV%.
Campbell is supposed to be their ace, and understandably Ryan doesn’t want her to stew over a bad performance. So, it’s not surprising he’s going back to her tonight. However, it may be beneficial to give Campbell a break sometime soon and let Howe get a full game under her belt before it gets too far into the season.
Boston’s Key to the Game: A strong forecheck. One thing Toronto has done pretty well this season is possess the puck. They can’t turn that possession into many grade-A chances, hence why they’ve scored just five goals (tied for last with Boston, who has played two fewer games), but other teams can’t score if they don’t have the puck. However, this possession breaks down under a heavy forecheck, and they have struggled to adjust on the fly. As a result, they have let up a league-high 14 goals. So, if Boston can forecheck hard and keep Toronto from possessing the puck like they want, they should walk out with a win.