PWHL Returns From International Break as Push for Playoffs Begins

With the world championships over, PWHL hockey is back on. Here's a look at how each team stands.

PWHL Returns From International Break as Push for Playoffs Begins
PWHL teams have just five games to settle into their spot for the first-ever PWHL playoffs.

The PWHL is set to return this week, with players back on the ice Thursday evening. With the end of the regular season less than a month away, teams are gearing up for their final push to the playoffs. All six teams still have a shot at the playoffs, and no team has guaranteed its spot. Each PWHL team has five games remaining: here’s what‘s in store.


Toronto sits atop the PWHL standings, just one point ahead of Minnesota, according to the PWHL website. Toronto will guarantee their spot in the playoffs with just one additional point. Their final stretch of the season will most heavily impact seeding leading into the playoffs. As the top seed, Toronto would have the opportunity to pick their opponent for the opening round of the playoffs. The second seed will play the third or fourth seed not chosen by the first.

Both first and second positions are desirable for Toronto to ensure an opening playoff matchup against a weaker side and home-ice advantage in the series.

Toronto’s Renata Fast, one of their top defenders, is fresh off a great World Championship in which she led Canadian skaters with six points in seven games, according to IIHF statistics. Close behind her was Toronto defence partner Jocelyne Larocque. If the two stay hot together in their return to PWHL ice, they could provide the offence for a smooth ride to the playoffs.

Game to watch: Toronto vs Minnesota, May 1


Minnesota was on a five-game winning streak when the PWHL season paused for Worlds. Minnesota is just a point behind Toronto in the standings, and they’re looking to continue their march to the top. Goal scoring has been consistent for the team and some of the teams’ players like star rookie Taylor Heise are returning from a productive tournament where Heise scored two goals and five assists.

Goaltending this year has been good for Minnesota. Nicole Hensley and Maddie Rooney have split the responsibilities, and both have produced save percentages over .920. Rooney didn’t join the USA at the international tournament, and Hensley only played in one game in which she recorded a shutout against 19 shots. Their play will be critical down the last stretch of the season, as keeping the puck out of the net has been Minnesota’s biggest strength this year. They’ll be tested early with a first game back against Montréal, who is hot on Minnesota’s heels.

Game to watch: Minnesota @ Montréal, April 18


Montréal started the season with a bang but tumbled through the standings with four straight losses before the international break. Marie-Philip Poulin has only scored in five of her 16 games but reminds us of her greatness when she pots three in a night.

Poulin leads the team in scoring but is closely followed by Laura Stacey, who has seven goals, according to the PWHL website. Scoring is going to be critical for Montréal down the stretch. They’ve scored at a lower rate this season than the other three teams currently in playoff position.

Though their group may not have played at the level we have come to expect from Canada’s best but there is something to be said about the stars like Poulin and Ann-Renée Desbiens rising to the occasion of big moments. As long as Montréal makes the playoffs, you can’t count them out.

Game to watch: Montréal vs Toronto, April 20


One of the least predictable teams this season has been Ottawa. They’ve been hot and cold with unexpected successes and underperformances. The team currently sits in the fourth and final playoff spot, five points ahead of Boston.

Daryl Watts has had an explosive second half of her season shooting to the top of team scoring with eight goals, five of which have come in her last four games, according to the league website.

Ottawa’s contingent of Czech players has driven much of the team’s success. Though Czechia lost in the bronze medal game, their resolve and skill were on show, and that includes Carla MacLeod, the coach of Czechia and Ottawa. She’s proven to be a resourceful and creative coach capable of giving technically better teams a run for their money. Hopefully, her Czech players in Ottawa flourish under her leadership, adding to Ottawa’s strength.

Another player who had a phenomenal time at Worlds was Sandra Abstreiter. She led the tournament’s goalies with a 950 save percentage. Emerance Maschmeyer has been Ottawa’s go to netminder through the majority of the season, but Abstreiter will be there to put on the performance pressure.

Game to watch: Ottawa vs Montreal, April 27


Boston is on the hunt. They will be tracking down Ottawa with a dream of passing them and making the playoffs. Unless Ottawa starts a big losing streak, Boston will need to win most of their games to have playoff hopes.

The team has really struggled to score this year. They average two goals per game, the worst of any team in the league, according to the PWHL website. The team picked up forwards Lexie Adzija and Susanna Tapani ahead of the trade deadline to shake things up. Tapani has scored once in her 12 games with Boston. Adzija was picked up much later and has no goals in her two games. If she clicks with her new team, especially after a long break to adjust to Boston, look out other teams. She is an impact player.

In net, Aerin Frankel and Emma Söderberg have been good. Frankel’s .927 has been season-saving for the team, and if she keeps it up or improves, Boston still has a chance to chase down the playoffs.

Game to watch: Boston @ Ottawa, April 24

New York

With only three regulation wins, New York sits at the bottom of the standings. They’ve struggled at both ends of the ice, especially in regulation. Seven of the 19 games played thus far have needed extra time.

It’s hard to understand why things aren’t working for this team. Forward Alex Carpenter is second in league scoring, and neither Ella Shelton nor Jessie Eldridge are far off. Their goaltending hasn’t been poor either.

The team assembled by Pascal Daoust for Howie Draper just hasn’t come together to make something special.

New York could take one of two paths: either push for the playoffs or wait until mathematically eliminated and then play well enough to earn the first overall pick.

It’s a grim reality for a team that will end their season with four straight games against the top four teams in the league.

Game to watch: New York vs Boston, April 20