PREVIEW: Boston's Search For First Home Win Continues Against Minnesota

Boston's first rematch of the season comes this afternoon against Minnesota.

PREVIEW: Boston's Search For First Home Win Continues Against Minnesota
Boston players celebrate the first goal in franchise history. Photo by Cassie Froio/The Ice Garden.

Boston will look for their first home win of the season this afternoon, as they take on one of the PWHL’s best in Minnesota.

The Basics: Saturday, January 27, 2024- Boston vs Minnesota, 4 p.m. EST, Tsongas Center, Lowell, MA (NESN, Bally Sports North Extra, Sportsnet, PWHL Youtube Channel, SN+)

What to Expect

Clair DeGeorge, wearing her white away uniform, crashes into Aerin Frankel, wearing green home uniform.
Clair DeGeorge crashes into Aerin Frankel. Photo by Cassie Froio/The Ice Garden.

For the first time this season, Boston is playing an opponent they’ve already seen. Last time out against Minnesota was the season opener, and Boston lost 3-2. They played a sloppy opening two periods before waking up and dominating the third, but it wasn’t enough. 

Boston’s last game against Ottawa was a big step in the right direction. They still did not play a full 60 minutes, but they finally managed to start both the game and every period on time. Even when they were getting outplayed by Ottawa, they kept the grade-A chances reasonably low. If they can build on that today, they’ll put themselves in a good position to win their first home game. It will also help if their big guns get going, like captain Hilary Knight, who still doesn't have a single point this season.

Meanwhile, Minnesota is fresh off their first regulation loss of the season, which came Wednesday against Montréal. After a ridiculous start to the season, Minnesota has slowed down a little bit over the past few games, but they are still excellent hockey. They will likely come out hard after suffering their first regulation loss and dropping two of their last three overall, so Boston will need to start on time.

Nicole Hensley, in her white away jersey and Minnesota pads, pushes Hilary Knight, wearing her green home uniform, out of her crease.
Nicole Hensley pushes Hilary Knight out of her crease. Photo by Cassie Froio/The Ice Garden.

It is unclear who will start for Minnesota this afternoon. Nicole Hensley has played four games to Maddie Rooney’s two, but both goalies have been excellent. However, Hensley is Minnesota’s clear number one, so on the surface, she makes the most sense. That said, Hensley has started the last two games after she and Rooney rotated for the first four, so they may want to give her a break. Minnesota heads to New York tomorrow, so who starts will come down to who they deem the more dangerous offensive team.

Boston’s goaltending situation isn’t any clearer. If it wasn’t for the last game against Minnesota, there would be little doubt that Boston would start Aerin Frankel. She was outstanding on Wednesday and a huge part of why Boston won that game, so it would make sense they’d go right back to her.

That’s not to say Emma Söderberg has been bad, as she was excellent in Toronto and the New York game was far from all her fault, but Frankel is their number one and Minnesota has been one of the best teams in the league this season. However, Minnesota had Frankel’s number in the first game. They knew exactly where her weak spot was, and got three nearly identical goals out of it. So, Boston may want to give Söderberg a look instead in hopes of avoiding a similar scenario. That said, still lightly pencil Frankel in for this one, with the caveat that it wouldn’t be completely shocking to see Söderberg.

Boston’s Key to the Game

Hannah Brandt, wearing a green home uniform, and Sophia Kunin, wearing a white away uniform, battle for positioning.
Hannah Brandt and Sophia Kunin battle for positioning. Photo by Cassie Froio/The Ice Garden.

Yet again, the key to Boston’s success will be finally playing a full 60-minute game. They played a bit closer to a complete game against Ottawa, but it still wasn’t a full 60 minutes. They will need to figure it out today to sneak past Minnesota. That was already proven in the first game these two played against each other: Boston didn’t really wake up until the third, and even though they nearly came back, it was too little, too late. Knowing this, look for them to start this one fast, just like they did last game against Ottawa.