PWHL PREVIEW: Boston Takes on Montréal in Final Regular Season Game

Boston keeps their playoff hopes alive with at least a point in their regular-season finale.

PWHL PREVIEW: Boston Takes on Montréal in Final Regular Season Game
Boston and Montréal players battle over the puck. Photo courtesy of the PWHL.

It’s another do-or-die (and maybe die anyway) game for PWHL Boston today, as they take on Montréal at home in their regular-season finale. A regulation loss eliminates them from the playoffs, but any other result at least keeps them alive another day.

The Basics: Saturday, May 4- Boston vs Montréal- 3:30 p.m. EDT, Tsongas Center, Lowell, MA (NESN, Sportsnet Pittsburgh, RDS2, PWHL Youtube Channel, GEM)

What to Expect

Brandt (left) and Bujold (right) battle for positioning at the top of the crease. Both are watching a play to their right and have their sticks at their waists. Brandt is in white, Bujlod in maroon.
Hannah Brandt and Sarah Bujold battle for positioning. Photo courtesy of the PWHL.

This is the fourth and final regular-season meeting between these two. On January 13, Boston spoiled Montréal’s home opener by taking them down in overtime, 3-2. Then, on February 4, Montréal flipped the script and left Lowell with a 2-1 OT win. Finally, on March 2, Montréal earned the series’ only regulation win, 3-1.

There are two paths to the playoffs left for Boston. The first takes place today. A Boston regulation win combined with a Minnesota regulation loss clinches them a spot since they hold tiebreaker #4 over Minnesota (most regulation + overtime wins, excluding the shootout). The second scenario leaves Boston waiting to learn their playoff fate until tomorrow. They need to out-point Ottawa to clinch a spot over them since Ottawa holds the tiebreaker. So, any point gained today will keep Boston alive, but the more they get, the better their odds will be.

This will be a bit of a different game for Boston. Their season all comes down to this, but for once, they’re playing someone with nothing left to fight for. Montréal has locked in the #2 seed, so Boston is the only one the result impacts. They must use that to their advantage and play with fire for 60 minutes while keeping their emotions in check and not cracking under pressure. Luckily, they have experience in that area, as their season has largely been on the line in every game since the international break. Their only game at home since then was a phenomenal 2-1 win over Toronto, so look for them to bring that same energy today.

As for Montréal, it can be difficult to get up for a game like this, especially since they already have their first two playoff games scheduled for next week. However, this will be a great test of the team’s self-motivating ability, and they have a wealth of experienced players to lean on. So, despite the result being irrelevant, look for them to put together another solid game as they gear up for playoffs.

Chuli crouches while tracking the puck behind the net. She is wearing a cream away iniform, white pads, and a maroon and off-white mask.
Elaine Chuli tracks the puck during a game against Minnesota. Photo courtesy of the PWHL.

In goal, look for Elaine Chuli to start for Montréal. Both goaltenders have been lights out this season, so Montréal is safe with either. However, Chuli is unlikely to see playoff time unless something goes wrong with Ann-Renée Desbiens, so getting her in the last regular season game is smart. Plus, even if Chuli wasn’t playing as well as she has been, the meaningless result makes this the perfect time to rest Desbiens.  Chuli is 5-1-1-1 on the season, with a 1.61 GAA and 0.949 SV% (both first overall).

As for Boston, look for Aerin Frankel to get the nod. Emma Söderberg was lights-out last game and would still give Boston a chance to win, but it would be a surprise to see them not go with Frankel in potentially the last game of the season. She’s a huge part of how they are still alive in the playoff race, and she hasn’t played in ten days, so she should be fresh. She is 5-2-6-7 on the season, with a 1.94 GAA (second overall) and 0.930 SV% (tied for second overall).

Boston’s Key to the Game

Müller (right) and Poulin (left) turn to get back into the play. Müller is facing the camera, while Poulin is back-to. Müller is in green, while Poulin is in cream.
Alina Müller and Marie-Philip Poulin turn to get back into the play. Photo by Michael Riley/PWHL Boston.

Stay in the moment. As usual, Boston needs to play an urgent 60 minutes to give themselves the best chance to win. They’ve eeked out some wins even when they don’t, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. However, the bigger challenge today will be staying in the moment. It will be easy to let in the noise that this could be their last game of the season and that they won't control their fate even if they win in regulation. However, they must find a way to block most of it out. They need to be aware of how important a win is, but not let it consume them, or it will lead to disaster.