PWHL PREVIEW: Boston Faces Tough Test Against Streaking Toronto

PWHL Boston brings their playoff push to a Toronto team riding a 10-game win streak.

PWHL PREVIEW: Boston Faces Tough Test Against Streaking Toronto
Susanna Tapani protects the puck from Emma Maltais. Photo by Alex D'Addese/PWHL.

Following a big shootout win against Ottawa on Saturday, Boston travels to Toronto tonight for a tough test against the league’s hottest team.

The Basics: Wednesday, March 20- Boston at Toronto- 7 p.m. EDT, Mattamy Athletic Centre, Toronto, ON (NESN, Women's Sports Network, Sportsnet Pittsburgh, TSN, PWHL Youtube Channel)

What to Expect

Gigi Marvin and Jesse Compher hunt the puck. Compher is slightly ahead of Marvin. Both are slightly hunched over while skating. Marvin is wearing white, while Compher is wearing blue.
Gigi Marvin and Jesse Compher hunt the puck. Photo by Alex D'Addese/PWHL.

Boston and Toronto have met three times this season. In their first meeting on January 17, Boston started slow but managed to overcome it and win 3-2 thanks to their goaltender and penalty kill. Then, on February 14, Boston got plenty of offensive chances but left their goaltender hung out to dry on numerous occasions and lost 5-3. Most recently, on March 6, Boston couldn’t muster a sense of urgency until it was too little, too late, and lost 3-1.

Boston has been on a roller coaster lately, with two big wins sandwiching a hapless performance against Minnesota. Last Saturday, it may have taken a shootout, but they got the job done against Ottawa to give themselves the inside track for the final playoff spot. They’ll want to keep building on that momentum tonight to continue setting the pace down the stretch run. 

Meanwhile, Toronto has been cruising lately and has won a whopping 10 straight games. They played Montréal in Pittsburgh, PA on Sunday as part of the PWHL’s takeover weekend and walked out with a solid 2-1 win. While they lack Boston’s need for points just to get into the playoffs, a regulation win tonight would help them sit more comfortably in first place and earn the right to choose their playoff opponent.

Kristen Campbell prepares to make a save against Boston. She is crouched down with her glove up and ready. She is wearing her blue pads and mask along with her blue home uniform.
Kristen Campbell prepares to make a save against Boston. Photo by Alex D'Addese/PWHL.

As for goaltenders, expect it to be Kristen Campbell for Toronto. Backup Erica Howe hasn’t played since the winning streak started, and that feels unlikely to change now. After her rough start to the season, Campbell has been outstanding and a big part of why they’ve won 10 straight. She is 9-3-0-4, with a 1.93 GAA (fourth in the league) and 0.925 SV% (fifth in the league).

Meanwhile, for Boston, look for Aerin Frankel to get another start. She didn’t have her best game the last time out against Toronto, but she was excellent against Ottawa on Saturday. Given their need for points, we’ll likely see her again. That said, Emma Söderberg was excellent in relief of Frankel during the third period of their last game against Toronto, so don’t completely rule her out either. It just doesn’t feel super likely given the way head coach Courtney Kessel has been deploying her goaltenders recently and Boston’s light week schedule-wise. Frankel is 3-2-2-5 on the season, with a 2.01 GAA (fifth in the league) and 0.929 SV% (fourth in the league).

Boston's Key to the Game

Jamie Lee Rattray hunts the puck as Toronto players try to defend her. She skating in between Sarah Nurse, who is chasing her, and Lauriane Rougeau, who is skating backwards defending. Rattray is in green, while the Toronto players are in white
Jamie Lee Rattray hunts the puck as Toronto players try to defend her. Photo by Michael Riley/PWHL Boston.

Play the full 60 minutes with urgency. It’s the same key as last time against Toronto because it remains just as vital. Toronto is red-hot, and they will make you pay for slow starts (or really any mistake). Boston found that out in the last game. But, with urgency comes lots of quality chances, and with lots of quality chances, you eventually get rewarded, even if the goaltender is a brick wall. They experienced this when they played New York recently. If they can find a way to bring that same spark, they’ll at least give themselves a fighting chance tonight. If not, Toronto will soon be on an 11-game win streak.