PWHL PREVIEW: Boston Visits Ottawa With Playoff Dreams On the Line

It's nearly do-or-die for Boston tonight, as a regulation loss would push them to the brink of elimination from the playoff race.

PWHL PREVIEW: Boston Visits Ottawa With Playoff Dreams On the Line
Chaos ensues in front of Aerin Frankel as she prepares to make a save. Photo courtesy of the PWHL.

Boston’s playoff dreams hinge heavily on the outcome of tonight's game, as they visit fourth-place Ottawa. A regulation win would momentarily catapult them over Ottawa (although Ottawa still has a game in hand), while a regulation loss brings them just one point away from elimination. 

The Basics: Wednesday, April 24, 2024- Boston at Ottawa- 7 p.m. EDT, TD Place, Ottawa, ON (NESN+, TSN3, TSN5, PWHL Youtube Channel)

What to Expect

Adzija body checks Marvin behind the net as they battle for the puck. Adzija is wearing a white Ottawa uniform, while Marvin is in a green Boston uniform.
Ottawa's Lexie Adzija checks Boston's Gigi Marvin behind the net during the February 19 game. Photo by Michael Riley/PWHL Boston.

This is the fifth and final meeting between these two teams. Boston is 2-1-0-1 against Ottawa this year. In their first meeting, Boston handed Ottawa their first regulation loss as they rode a strong start and excellent goaltending to a 3-2 win. Then, they faced off twice in three days in February, with Ottawa taking the first one 4-2 and Boston taking the second 3-1. Finally, the two teams met in Detroit during PWHL Takeover Weekend, and Boston walked away with a 2-1 SOW.

Tonight, it’s do or die for Boston. I know I’ve been the woman who cried big game lately, and they have all been important as Boston looks to dig out of the hole they put themselves in. However, tonight is the biggest game of the season so far. If this game ends in regulation, it will be a six-point swing for either team’s odds, and Boston must win to stay alive. 

Boston is coming off a 2-1 win over New York on Saturday in which they didn’t always play their best, yet still found a way to win. However, in their first game back from the break on Thursday, they gave one of their most complete performances of the season to take down Toronto. Look for them to bring that replicate Thursday’s energy tonight, knowing that the points are the most valuable they have ever been.

As for Ottawa, they’re coming off a strong 4-0 win over Minnesota on Saturday. It was their first game back from the break, but they didn’t look like they missed a beat. Captain Brianne Jenner led the way with a hat trick, while Emerance Maschmeyer was a brick wall in goal. Look for them to bring that same energy, knowing that a win all but secures them a playoff spot.

Maschmeyer makes a save against Boston from the butterfly position. She is kicking the puck to her left, as an Ottawa defender pushes a Boston player out of the play. The Ottawa players are wearing red home uniforms, while the Boston player is wearing a white away uniform.
Emerance Maschmeyer makes a save against Boston on January 24. Photo by Andrea Cardin/Freestyle Photography/PWHL.

In goal for Ottawa, look for Emerance Maschmeyer to get the start. As important as this game is for Boston, Ottawa needs it nearly as badly. They want to secure a playoff spot as soon as possible, not be fighting tooth and nail to the end. Maschmeyer has started all but two games for Ottawa this season and appeared in all but one, so there’s no reason to believe she won’t start tonight. After a rockier start, Maschmeyer has been outstanding lately, although her numbers are still recovering a bit. She is 8-0-5-6, with a 2.20 GAA (sixth overall) and 0.918 SV% (eighth overall)

As for Boston, look for Aerin Frankel to get another start. Even if Emma Söderberg had dressed for the past two games and her status was known, it would almost certainly still be Frankel tonight. This is, in essence, a playoff game for Boston, and Frankel is their number one. When the lights are brightest is usually when she’s at her best, so this is her time to shine. Frankel has been phenomenal this season, going 5-2-6-6 with a 1.94 GAA (second overall) and 0.931 SV% (third overall).

Boston's Key to the Game

Tapani leans toward the trailing and reaching Tejralová to shield the puck from her. Tapani is wearing a green home uniform, while Tejralová is in a white away uniform.
Susanna Tapani protects the puck from Aneta Tejralová on February 19. Photo by Michael Riley/PWHL Boston.

Play urgent yet disciplined hockey for 60 minutes. Ottawa’s power play is the best in the league, converting on 26.3% of their chances. Meanwhile, Boston’s PK is fifth in the league with an 82.1% success rate. So, they must avoid going to the box at all costs tonight. Beyond that, they also have to show up and play hard for the full 60 minutes. They can’t get away with a performance like they had on Saturday. However, when Boston plays to their ability, they can beat anyone in the league. So, if they show up with urgency from the first puck drop to the final buzzer and stay out of the box, they’ll have a good chance of keeping their playoff hopes alive.