PWHL Power Rankings: Week 8 (02/26-03/03)

Journey back to Middle-Earth for this week's power rankings

PWHL Power Rankings: Week 8 (02/26-03/03)
Mélodie Daoust celebrates her goal against Boston. Photo courtesy of the PWHL.

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.

This week’s power rankings feature minimal movement, as teams largely performed how we expected them to at this point in the season. However, this upcoming week could see some big swings in the league standings. In particular, Boston (fourth place) and Toronto (third place) each have two huge games this week. Boston and Toronto kick their respective weeks off against each other, and then Boston goes on to face New York (tied for fifth place with Ottawa), while Toronto hosts league-leading Montréal.

For this week’s theme, I returned to Middle-Earth. After doing a Fellowship of the Ring-themed rankings back in January, I decided it was time to do one based on the Company of Thorin Oakenshield (plus honorary member Gandalf) from The Hobbit. The Hobbit is perhaps my favorite standalone book of all time, and while the movies are hotly debated among Tolkien fans, I have a big soft spot for them too. Without further ado, journey with me back into Middle-Earth and look at how each PWHL is doing.

#1. Montréal (6-3-3-2, 27 points)

Montréal players celebrate a goal against Boston. They are in a group hug, and all are wearing maroon home uniforms.
Montréal players celebrate a goal against Boston. Photo courtesy of the PWHL.

Last Week’s Ranking: 1 (-)

This Week’s Results:

Upcoming Schedule:

  • Wed, Mar 6 @ NYC- 7 p.m. EST, Total Mortgage Arena, Bridgeport, CT (TSN, MSGSN2, TSN+, TOU.TV)
  • Fri, Mar 8 @ TOR- 7 p.m. EST, Mattamy Athletic Centre, Toronto, ON (Sportsnet, NESN,  SN+, TOU.TV, PWHL Youtube Channel)
  • Sun, Mar 10 vs OTT- 4 p.m. EDT, Place Bell, Montréal, QC (Sportsnet, SN+, TOU.TV, PWHL Youtube Channel)

Member of Thorin’s Company: Balin

Balin is the wisest member of the Company. Out of all the dwarves, he was Thorin’s most trusted advisor and was a voice of reason. While Thorin may be the King Under the Mountain, Balin is the all-around best/least flawed dwarf. Likewise, Montréal isn’t necessarily the best team at any one thing, but they are good at everything and the all-around best team in the PWHL.

Montréal only played one game this week, but they kept on rolling. There’s not much new to say about this team. They’re just good, and they show no signs of slowing down. This week is their busiest yet, with three games in five days after never playing more than two in a week. So, it will be a good test to see how this team does with lots of travel and little time to practice.

#2. Toronto (6-3-0-5, 24 points)

Toronto players celebrate their win against Minnesota. They are in a massive group hug, and wearing their white away uniforms.
Toronto players celebrate their win against Minnesota. Photo by Kelly Hagenson/PWHL.

Last Week’s Ranking: 2 (-)

This Week’s Results: 

  • Tue, Feb 27 @ MIN- 4-3 OTW
  • Sat, Mar 2 @ OTT- 5-2 W

Upcoming Schedule:

  • Wed, Mar 6 vs BOS- 7 p.m. EST, Mattamy Athletic Centre, Toronto, ON (TSN, NESN, Bally Sports North, PWHL Youtube Channel)
  • Fri, Mar 8 vs MTL- 7 p.m. EST, Mattamy Athletic Centre, Toronto, ON (Sportsnet, NESN, SN+, TOU.TV, PWHL Youtube Channel)

Member of Thorin’s Company: Bilbo Baggins

Bilbo Baggins started the journey to Erebor frightened. He frequently wished he was back in his cozy hobbit hole. Only Gandalf thought he belonged in the Company. However, he eventually proved to everyone, including himself, that he belonged. He may have still occasionally wished to be back in the comforts of home, but he had also unlocked the adventurous part of him. Likewise, Toronto started this season off horribly. They couldn’t do much right and looked like the worst team in the league. Yet, here they are now, on a seven-game win streak. There may still be times when they look held together by Kristen Campbell, Natalie Spooner, and scotch tape, but it’s getting hard to argue that they don’t belong here.

Toronto keeps proving the doubters wrong. A seven-game win streak is nothing to sneeze at in any professional league, much less one as competitive as the PWHL. After starting the streak out purely on the backs of Spooner and Campbell, they’re finally starting to get some secondary scoring to help them out. However, the streak is bound to end at some point, and how the team responds will be a good test of who they really are.

#3. Minnesota (6-2-3-4, 25 points)

Sophie Jaques celebrates one of her goals against Toronto with Lee Stecklein. Jaques has her arms up and open, waiting for Stecklein to arrive for a hug. Both are in their purple home uniforms.
Sophie Jaques celebrates one of her goals against Toronto with Lee Stecklein. Photo by Kelly Hagenson/PWHL.

Last Week’s Ranking: 4 (+1)

This Week’s Results:

  • Tue, Feb 27 vs TOR- 4-3 OTL
  • Sun, Mar 3 @ NYC- 2-0 W

Upcoming Schedule:

  • Tue, Mar 5 vs OTT- 7 p.m. CST, Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, Minnesota (Bally Sports North, NESN, TSN, PWHL Youtube Channel)

Member of Thorin’s Company: Dwalin

Dwalin doesn’t get a whole lot of attention. But, he’s fiercely loyal to Thorin and the rest of the Company, and he’s one of their finest warriors. Meanwhile, Minnesota got a lot of attention during their win streak at the beginning of the season, but they seem to be flying under the radar since. Yet, they are one of the best teams in the PWHL and sit second in the standings. They managed to keep up even with star forward Taylor Heise missing several weeks, and now that she's back, they are one of the last teams I would want to mess with.

Minnesota has battled some adversity and is emerging on the other side second in the PWHL. They are a solid team with top-notch goaltending that is feeling good about themselves. That said, they have played the most games in the PWHL this season. They have just one game this week against struggling Ottawa while everyone else has at least two, so other teams will have the opportunity to catch up in the standings. But, that will not change the fact that this team is good. Watch out for them.

#4. Boston (4-2-2-5, 18 points)

Hilary Knight takes a shot again Montréal. The puck is just about to leave her stick. She is wearing a white away uniform.
Hilary Knight takes a shot again Montréal. Photo courtesy of the PWHL.

Last Week’s Ranking: 3 (-1)

This Week’s Results:

Upcoming Schedule:

  • Wed, Mar 6 @ TOR- 7 p.m. EST, Mattamy Athletic Centre, Toronto, ON (NESN, TSN, Bally Sports North, PWHL Youtube Channel)
  • Sun, Mar 10 vs NYC- 3 p.m. EDT, Tsongas Center, Lowell, MA (NESN, MSG, Bally Sports North, PWHL Youtube Channel, GEM)

Member of Thorin’s Company: Thorin Oakenshield

This pairing seems a little odd at first, but hear me out. Thorin Oakenshield is the King Under the Mountain. He is undeniably a great dwarf, but he is flawed. His greed, particularly for the Arkenstone, and thirst for revenge led to reckless decisions. He never realized his full potential as king, as he died in battle defending his kingdom after his greed nearly destroyed it. Conversely, Boston has all the makings of a great team and has sporadically shown that they are. They have their hearts set on the Unnamed PWHL Cup (which I now vote we name the Arkenstone), and they built the most skilled team they could on paper to get there. However, that may have come at the expense of a balanced roster. Skill isn't everything when it comes to winning a championship, just like possessing the Arkenstone isn't the only part of being King Under the Mountain. Boston has lacked a killer instinct and willingness to score from the dirty areas in many of their games, and it has kept them from realizing their full potential. Thorin ran out of time to fix things, but it's not too late for Boston. I rest my case.

Boston lost the only game they played this week in an iffy showing from the team. They played fine most of the game but reverted to their old ways of bad starts, which cost them. Luckily, both Ottawa and New York also lost their games this weekend. So, Boston remains in fourth place, two points ahead of both teams with a game in hand. This week is huge for Boston, as they play the teams on either side of them in the standings. They must find a way to dig deep and bring some urgency, or they’ll put themselves in a difficult position moving forward.

#5. New York (2-4-2-6, 16 points)

New York players scramble to prevent an Ottawa goal. Two players are trying to get the puck, while goaltender Corinne Schroder is down on her stomach. All are wearing white away uniforms, while Schroeder is also wearing a plain white mask and Statue of Liberty themed pads.
New York players scramble to prevent an Ottawa goal. Photo by Andrea Cardin/Freestyle Photography/PWHL.

Last Week’s Ranking: 5 (-)

This Week’s Results:

  • Wed, Feb 28 @ OTT- 4-2 L
  • Sun, Mar 3 vs MIN- 2-0 L

Upcoming Schedule:

  • Wed, Mar 6 vs MTL- 7 p.m. EST, Total Mortgage Arena, Bridgeport, CT (MSGSN2, TSN, TSN+, TOU.TV)
  • Sun, Mar 10 @ BOS- 3 p.m. EDT, Tsongas Center, Lowell, MA (MSG, NESN, Bally Sports North, PWHL Youtube Channel, GEM)

Member of Thorin’s Company: Gandalf the Grey

Another odd pairing on the surface, but again, hear me out. Gandalf is wise and extremely powerful. But, he had a knack for disappearing in their most trying moments. Sure, he had reasons for disappearing, and he often reappeared just in the nick of time. But, things would have been much simpler if he just hung around. Likewise, New York has, at times, been a great team. But man, do they have a knack for disappearing in big moments. For example, after Boston lost on Saturday, New York had the opportunity to overtake them in the standings with a win against Minnesota yesterday. Instead, they laid an egg and now find themselves on the losing end of the fifth-place tiebreaker with Ottawa. It remains to be seen if, like Gandalf, they can reappear just in the nick of time.

New York probably deserved to be a little higher last week, and now they probably deserve to be in the basement. But, at #5 they remain because, throughout the season, they have shown just a bit more hope than Ottawa. However, they are at the bottom of the standings for a reason. Outside of Corinne Schroeder’s brilliance, this team cannot seem to find any consistency. They face two tough tests this week against league-leading Montréal and a Boston team desperate to stay ahead of them in the standings. They cannot afford to lose both these games if they hope to keep pushing for the playoffs, so it’s crunch time in New York.

#6. Ottawa (4-0-4-6, 16 points)

Emily Clark makes a play on the puck while falling, with Ella Shelton defending. Clark is nearly flat on the ice with her stick outstretched, while Shelton is still skating. Clark is in a red home uniform, while Shelton is in a white away.
Emily Clark makes a play on the puck while falling, with Ella Shelton defending. Photo by Andrea Cardin/Freestyle Photography/PWHL.

Last Week’s Ranking: 6 (-)

This Week’s Results:

  • Wed, Feb 28 vs NYC- 4-2 W
  • Sat, Mar 2 vs TOR- 5-2 L

Upcoming Schedule:

  • Tue, Mar 5 @ MIN- 8 p.m. EST, Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, MN (TSN, Bally Sports North, NESN, PWHL Youtube Channel)
  • Sun, Mar 10 @ MTL- 4 p.m. EDT, Place Bell, Montréal, QC (Sportsnet, SN+, TOU.TV, PWHL Youtube Channel)

Member of Thorin’s Company: Bombur

Bombur has his uses, and he is a surprisingly agile and strong fighter. But, ultimately, he is most frequently mentioned as the butt of a joke. He is also a massive inconvenience to the Company at one of the most difficult moments, as they had to carry him through Mirkwood after he fell into the enchanted stream. Likewise, Ottawa has shown some potential to be a good team, but more often than that, they have found a way to make a fool of themselves and lose. It is getting hard to take this team super seriously.

It is hard to say what the problem is in Ottawa. There’s no one thing they’re doing especially poorly. They just can’t seem to figure much out on any sort of consistent basis. They play well and win one game but then turn around and find a way to lose in some spectacular way the next. With just four wins on the season, it is really difficult to see this team making playoffs. They might be able to start changing that perception if they can pull off a solid win this week. But, given they face perhaps the deepest teams in the league, that will be a tall task.

Could not load content