PWHL Power Rankings: Week 10 (03/11-03/17)

Grab yourself a sweet treat before settling in for the latest PWHL power rankings installment!

PWHL Power Rankings: Week 10 (03/11-03/17)
Sarah Nurse shoves Erin Ambrose behind the net. Photo by Arianne Bergeron.

Welcome to The Ice Garden’s weekly PWHL power rankings! Check back for new installments every week, and remember: if you think your team is ranked too low, it’s definitely totally 100% because we hate them.

There is zero movement in the power rankings this week for the first time this season. However, that doesn’t mean things weren’t interesting. Good and bad streaks continued for four teams, while Boston and Ottawa continued their scrap over fourth place. This is the final full week of PWHL hockey before the break for the IIHF Women’s World Championships, and only Toronto and Ottawa have more than one game. Points continue to be massive as we near the home stretch of the season, so buckle up for some playoff-like intensity going forward in some of these games.

You may want to grab yourself a sweet treat before getting too deep into these rankings. For this week’s theme, I’ve paired each team with a type of cookie because I have a big sweet tooth and can’t exhaust my precious few pop culture knowledge bases with several weeks remaining. Prepare to be hungry after reading this (I know I was after writing it), and feel free to yell at me for my cookie opinions. That said, just know that if you disagree, you’re wrong (the truth hurts).

#1. Toronto (9-3-0-5, 33 points)

Alex Vasko lines up for the faceoff with a focused, clenched-teeth smile. Gabrielle David is on the other side of the dot, while the ref is to their left about the drop the puck. Vasko is in white, while David is in maroon.
Alex Vasko lines up for the faceoff with a focused, clenched-teeth smile. Photo by Arianne Bergeron.

Last Week’s Ranking: 1 (-)

This Week’s Results:

  • Sun, Mar 17 @ MTL- 2-1 W

Upcoming Schedule:

  • Wed, Mar 20 vs BOS- 7 p.m. EDT, Mattamy Athletic Centre, Toronto, ON (TSN, NESN, Women’s Sports Network, SportsNet Pittsburgh, PWHL Youtube Channel)
  • Sat, Mar 23 @ OTT- 1 p.m. EDT, TD Place, Ottawa, ON (TSN, PWHL Youtube Channel)

Type of Cookie: Double chocolate chip.

As a chocolate lover, double chocolate cookies are the pick of the litter for me. Personally, I like adding some mint chips in sometimes for some extra pizzazz. But, I know that’s highly controversial, so I’ll stick with just a straight double chocolate cookie here. It’s really hard to go wrong with one, and I’ve yet to encounter one I don’t like. Likewise, Toronto is the PWHL’s top dog right now, and it feels impossible to go wrong with them.

The look on Alex Vasko’s face in the above photo seems to encapsulate Toronto’s vibe right now: slightly crazed, so you better think twice before messing with them. Toronto has now won 10 straight games, and Kristen Campbell has won 11 straight starts. It’s hard to believe how bad this team looked at the beginning of the season given where they are now. At this point, I’m not sure what it’ll take from an opponent to finally beat them. They have an easier week (on paper), facing off against Boston and Ottawa, who happen to be the last two teams they lost to before going sicko mode, but a lot has changed since then and they’ve soundly beat each of them at least once. However, both Boston and Ottawa need points, so Toronto needs to be prepared to handle some potentially significant desperation, which could be a bit of challenge given their relatively comfortable playoff position.

#2. Montréal (7-3-3-5, 30 points)

Kristen O'Neill battles behind the net with Rebecca Leslie. O'Neill is about to pin Leslie to the boards from behind in an attempt to retrieve the puck from between her feet. O'Neill is in maroon, while Leslie is in white.
Kristen O'Neill battles behind the net with Rebecca Leslie. Photo by Arianne Bergeron.

Last Week’s Ranking: 2 (-)

This Week’s Results:

  • Sun, Mar 17 vs TOR- 2-1 L

Upcoming Schedule:

  • Sun, Mar 24 @ MIN- 4 p.m. EDT, Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, MN (Sportsnet, Bally Sports North, SN+, TOU.tv, PWHL Youtube Channel)

Type of Cookie: Chocolate chip.

The chocolate chip cookie is the quintessential cookie. Beloved by most, they’re simple, delicious, and overall it’s pretty hard to go wrong with one. While Montréal is currently mired in their worst stretch of the season, it still feels hard to bet against this team too much. They’re perhaps the PWHL’s most complete team, and once they emerge from their current injury troubles, they should go right back to being the quintessential hockey team (or at least the closest thing the PWHL has to one).

Montréal has now lost three straight games in their first losing streak of the season, but I’m not quite ready to knock them down to #3 yet. Their struggles started once team MVP Marie-Philip Poulin got injured, and while they’re battling things a bit right now, they still played a great game on Sunday against Toronto. They have yet to beat Toronto this season, but this was perhaps their best performance of the four. A little adversity tends to be good for long-term success, so don’t be surprised if Montréal emerges from this losing streak better than before, especially when they get Poulin back.

#3. Minnesota (8-3-3-4, 33 points)

Minnesota players celebrate a goal against Boston. There are five of them in a big group hug. They are all wearing purple home uniforms.
Minnesota players celebrate a goal against Boston. Photo by Kelly Hagenson/PWHL.

Last Week’s Ranking: 3 (-)

This Week’s Results:

  • Weds, Mar 13 vs BOS- 4-0 W
  • Sat, Mar 16 vs NYC- 5-1 W

Upcoming Schedule:

  • Sun, Mar 24 vs MTL- 3 p.m. CDT, Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, MN (Bally Sports North, Sportsnet, PWHL Youtube Channel, SN+, TOU.tv)

Type of Cookie: Sugar cookie.

Sugar cookies are the most versatile cookies. You can frost them (with or without sprinkles), you can add just sprinkles, or you can eat them plain. Whatever you desired sweetness, it can be achieved with a sugar cookie. They’re a classic and near-universally enjoyed for a reason. Likewise, Minnesota can be flashy (frosted with sprinkles), gritty (just sprinkles), or just overall solid, even if it’s not the most exciting style (plain). They’re perhaps the PWHL’s most versatile team, and they can always rely on their base of Nicole Hensley and Maddie Rooney, who have been the league’s strongest tandem this season.

Minnesota is on a four game winning streak, and perhaps it’s unfair to keep them at #3. But, this four game winning streak has been beating up on all the teams below them in the standings, and while it’s a great sign that they can do that, I’m not quite ready to move them into the top two yet. That said, there’s not much to pick apart about this team right now. Their top players are bringing it (captain Kendall Coyne Schofield has five points in her last three games), their depth is doing their part, and their goaltending tandem is the best in the league. The team’s overall chemistry is clear, and it could carry them far in the postseason. Minnesota has one game this week and it’s against Montréal, who trails them in the standings by three points. Montréal will be hungry to break out of their slump, so Minnesota will have to bring it their best if they hope to stay in second place.

#4. Boston (4-4-2-7, 22 points)

Hilary Knight scores on Emerance Maschmeyer. Knight is mid-follow through on the shot, with her weight primarily on her front (left) foot and stick in the air. Meanwhile, Maschmeyer is on her knee with her glove outstretched low as the puck sails high over it. Knight is in green, while Maschmeyer is in white.
Hilary Knight scores on Emerance Maschmeyer. Photo courtesy of the PWHL.

Last Week’s Ranking: 4 (-)

This Week’s Results:

Upcoming Schedule:

  • Wed, Mar 20 @ TOR- 7 p.m. EDT, Mattamy Athletic Centre, Toronto, ON (NESN, Women's Sports Network, Sportsnet Pittsburgh, TSN, PWHL Youtube Channel)

Type of Cookie: Half-moon/black-and-white cookie.

Ah, Boston. They went from looking dominant against New York on March 10 to hapless against Minnesota on Wednesday before rallying on for a big shootout win on Saturday. Black-and-white, indeed. Plus, their captain’s last name is Knight, and, well, that's when the moon comes out. I rest my case.

Boston got the job done on Saturday to give themselves the inside track for the final playoff spot. The win was largely thanks to captain Hilary Knight, who has come into her own after a slow start and got both the lone regular goal and shootout winner. That’s the Knight Boston needs to see the rest of the season. They brought her in to be a game-breaker, especially in big moments. That said, Boston still has a lot they need to figure out if they hope to not just make playoffs, but make some noise in them. Their goaltending is giving them a chance to win nearly every game, but the rest of the team has struggled to bring consistent efforts from game to game. Something has to give eventually. They only have one game this week, and it’s a brutally tough test against a streaking Toronto team. However, that means it’s also a big opportunity for Boston to rise to the occasion and start proving doubters wrong.

#5. Ottawa (5-0-6-6, 21 points)

Brianne Jenner takes a shot against Boston. The photo is taken from behind. She has her weight on her left (front) foot as she follows through on the shot. The puck is just above to leave the frame. Jenner is wearing white.
Brianne Jenner takes a shot against Boston. Photo courtesy of the PWHL.

Last Week’s Ranking: 5 (-)

This Week’s Results:

  • Sat, Mar 16 @ BOS- 2-1 SOL

Upcoming Schedule:

  • Wed, Mar 20 @ NYC- 7 p.m. EDT, Total Mortgage Arena, Bridgeport, CT (TSN, MSG, TSN+, PWHL Youtube Channel)
  • Sat, Mar 23 vs TOR- 1 p.m. EDT, TD Place, Ottawa, ON (TSN, PWHL Youtube Channel)

Type of Cookie: Snickerdoodle.

Snickerdoodles are good cookies, but they’re not the most exciting ones out there. They’re more exciting than sugar cookies thanks to the cinnamon, and you might even get one with a legitimate spice kick here and there, but overall, they’re solid yet non-threatening. Similarly, Ottawa has had a couple of genuinely impressive efforts this season. But, for the most part, they’ve been a solid team with a remarkable ability to shoot themselves in the foot, so they haven’t felt legitimately threatening.

Ottawa is still right in the fight for the fourth playoff spot since they only lost to Boston in the shootout, but they’ve gotta start stringing together some wins. They haven’t won consecutive games all season, and if they don’t start soon, they will not be able to sneak into the playoffs. Getting a point out of 65% of your games sounds great, but considering they’ve gone to overtime six times and are winless in it, it’s not as impressive as it sounds. Sure, there’s no 3v3 overtime in the postseason, so that problem will go away should Ottawa manage to make it. However, considering the volume of games going past regulation this season, their inability to get the extra point is significant. Ottawa will have a good opportunity to bank some points against a floundering New York team this week before facing Toronto, who is currently riding a 10-game win streak.

#6. New York (2-4-3-8, 17 points)

New York players sit in dismay after losing in overtime to Boston. Abbey Levy is laying flat after trying to make a save, while Micah Zandee-Hart is on her knees behind her. Meanwhile, Hannah Brandt is celebrating in front of them after scoring. The New York players are in white, Boston in green.
New York players sit in dismay after losing in overtime to Boston. Photo by Michael Riley/PWHL Boston.

Last Week’s Ranking: 6 (-)

This Week’s Results:

  • Sat, Mar 16 @ MIN- 5-1 L

Upcoming Schedule:

  • Wed, Mar 20 vs OTT- 7 p.m. EDT, Total Mortgage Arena, Bridgeport, CT (MSG, TSN, PWHL Youtube Channel, TSN+)

Cookie Type: Oatmeal raisin that you thought was chocolate chip.

As someone who thinks oatmeal raisin cookies can be acceptable under certain circumstances, this is not merely a shot at oatmeal raisin cookies. However, you cannot deny that if you grab a cookie thinking it is a chocolate chip, and then you take a bite only to find out it is oatmeal raisin, it is an incredibly disappointing experience. Likewise, on paper, New York looked like they would be a great team this year. But the reality? Pure disappointment.

Things are bleak in New York. They got walloped by Minnesota this week, losing 5-1 while stretching their losing streak to six, and it frankly could have been worse. The above photo, while from last week, is emblematic of their season: the goalie laying defeated after doing everything she can to win her team the game, while the players look on in utter dismay. They are five points back of a playoff spot with seven games remaining and while that’s not technically an impossible gap to overcome, there is nothing about how the team is operating that inspires any sort of confidence. It certainly feels like they’ll be following the Gold Plan all the way to the #1 pick in this year’s draft.

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