PWHL FINALS PREVIEW: Boston vs Minnesota

The final quest for the Walter Cup begins tonight. Here's a look at how the teams stack up.

PWHL FINALS PREVIEW: Boston vs Minnesota
Susanna Tapani faces off against Liz Schepers. Photo by Kelly Hagenson/PWHL.

#3 Boston and #4 Minnesota kick off the inaugural PWHL Finals tonight at 5 p.m. EDT. Before the fun begins, it's time to look at how these two stack up.

The Playoffs So Far

All Boston players celebrate with a big group hug in the corner. They're all wearing green home uniforms.
Boston celebrates their series win over Montréal. Photo by Adam Richins Photography.

Starting with Boston, many expected their semifinal series with Montréal to go five games but instead, Boston swept it. Despite the sweep, it was an extremely close series and thanks to every game going to overtime, they played a whopping 246:30, equivalent to just over four games. The main reason Boston pulled it off was the ridiculous play of Aerin Frankel. She faced an astounding 145 shots—many of which were high-danger—and stopped 141.

Full recaps of each game in the series are linked below, plus an in-depth look at the series' main storylines

All Minnesota players celebrate with a big group hug in front of Maddie Rooney's net. They're wearing white away uniforms.
Minnesota celebrates their series win over Toronto. Photo by Alex D'Addese/PWHL.

As for Minnesota, they pulled off an even more surprising reverse sweep of #1 Toronto, who chose them as an opponent. They also have their goaltender to thank, but it’s not the one most expected. Maddie Rooney took over the net from Nicole Hensley in Game 2 and has played her heart out ever since. She was less busy than Frankel, stopping 92 of 94 shots in four appearances, but remarkably secured two shutouts in three potential elimination games for her club.

Full recaps of each game in the series are linked below.

Season Series

Müller (right in green) takes a shot through two Minnesota defenders (left in white). They're all leaning forward with sticks outstretched towards the puck.
Alina Müller takes a shot through Minnesota defenders. Photo by Michelle Jay/The Ice Garden.

These clubs meant five times in the regular season. Boston held a slight edge in the series, going 2-1-0-2. Boston’s regulation wins were on the road and their overtime win was at home, while Minnesota split their wins between home and the road.

Full recaps of each game can be found below


Five Minnesota players celebrate a goal by going down a handshake line at the bench. They're wearing white away uniforms.
Minnesota players celebrate a goal against Boston. Photo by Adam Richins Photography.

A combined 19 goals were scored on 256 shots in the season series. Boston tallied ten goals on 124 shots, while Minnesota notched 11 goals on 134 shots (stats for both teams include an empty net shot and goal). Boston’s offense was more balanced than Minnesota’s in the regular season, but Minnesota’s big guns appeared on the scoresheet more often.

Boston has been the better offensive team in the playoffs, but not by a lot. Each notched seven goals, but Minnesota got shut out in their first two games. Boston fired 102 shots on goal for an average of 34 per game but only cracked 30 once (they just did it decisively, with 52 shots in Game 2). On the other side, Minnesota fired 133 shots on net for an average of 26.6 per game and only cracked 30 shots once (in Game 5). 

Now let’s take a more in-depth look at each team’s offense.

Five Boston players celebrate a goal with a group hug. They're all raising their sticks and are wearing white away uniforms.
Boston players celebrate a playoff goal against Montréal. Photo by Pascal Ratthe/PWHL.

Boston Leading Scorers 

  • Season Series
    • Goals- Alina Müller and Theresa Schafzahl (2)
    • Assists- Jamie Lee Rattray (3)
    • Points- Müller (4)
  • Regular Season
    • Goals- Hilary Knight (6)
      • Lexie Adzija also has six, but five were with PWHL Ottawa
    • Assists- Müller and Megan Keller (11)
    • Points- Müller (16)
  • Playoffs
    • Goals- Amanda Pelkey and Susanna Tapani (2)
    • Assists- Keller, Gigi Marvin, Sidney Morin, and Theresa Schafzahl (2)
    • Points- Pelkey (3)

In the season series, Boston saw 16 players tally points, seven of which got multiple. Throughout the regular season, 23 of their 25 skaters who appeared in a game notched points, and 22 got more than one. Seven of their skaters cracked the ten-point threshold, but only Müller and Keller topped 0.5 PPG. 

Currently, 11 of their 21 skaters have points in the playoffs, and seven have multiple points. Boston’s depth has been highly productive, with their bottom six forwards tallying five of the seven goals. Fourth-line left-wing Pelkey and top-line center Tapani are the only Boston players with multiple playoff goals.

Denisa Křížová transfers all her weight to her front foot while flexing her stick. She is about to take a shot. She is wearing a purple home uniform.
Denisa Křížová shoots during a game against Boston. Photo by Kelly Hagenson/PWHL.

Minnesota Leading Scorers

  • Season Series
    • Goals- Grace Zumwinkle (3)
    • Assists- Taylor Heise, Kendall Coyne Schofield, and Lee Stecklein (2)
    • Points- Zumwinkle, Heise, and Coyne Schofield (4)
  • Regular Season
    • Goals- Zumwinkle (11)
    • Assists- Kelly Pannek (12)
    • Points- Zumwinkle (19)
  • Playoffs
    • Goals- Heise and Denisa Křížová (2)
    • Assists- Sophie Jaques, Liz Schepers, and Stecklein (3)
    • Points- Jaques, Schepers, and Stecklein (3)

Minnesota had slightly fewer skaters tally points in the season series, with 14 skaters getting on the scoresheet. Over the regular season, they also had fewer skaters notch multiple points, with 17 of their 21 point-getters finding the scoresheet more than once. That said, they also had fewer skaters appear for them, with only 23 to Boston’s 25. While they had fewer players produce, many of the ones who did were potent, with five skaters cracking ten points and six players tallying over 0.5 PPG. 

In the playoffs, they have a similar spread to Boston, with 11 of their 20 skaters tallying points, seven of which have gotten multiple. Their depth has also been pitching in offensively, with four of their seven goals coming from their bottom-six forwards and one from a bottom-pairing defender. Third-line left-wing Křížová was also the only skater to get multiple goals past Toronto's Kristen Campbell (one of Heise’s was into the empty net).

Special Teams

Keller celebrates her goal with a group hug with Müller and Gabel. They're all wearing green home uniforms.
Megan Keller and teammates celebrate a power play goal against Minnesota. Photo by Michael Riley/PWHL.

In the season series, 25 penalties were taken (all minors) but only three power-play goals were scored. Lee Stecklein took the most penalties for Minnesota with three, while Kaleigh Fratkin led the way for Boston with four. On the power play, Boston went 2/11 (18.2%), while Minnesota went 1/14 (7.1%). Conversely, Boston’s penalty kill was 93% successful while Minnesota’s was 81.8%.

Outside of the season series, both teams have generally abysmal power plays. Boston was dead last in the league in the regular season with a 7.5% success rate, and they have yet to score a postseason power-play goal in six opportunities. Meanwhile, Minnesota’s regular season power play was marginally better, sitting fifth with an 8.2% success rate, and they tallied two power-play goals in Game 5 against Toronto for a 13.3% success rate through five games. 

As for the penalty kill, Minnesota’s was dreadful in the regular season. They were last by a wide margin after killing 67.2% of their penalties. Yet, they’re perfect in the playoffs, killing all ten of their penalties. Meanwhile, Boston’s penalty kill was fifth in the league in the regular season, with an 80% success rate. Statistically, it’s only been marginally better this postseason, with an 83% success rate. However, they did kill a five-minute match penalty in a Game 2 overtime, and Pelkey scored a jailbreak goal to tie Game 3, so they deserve some bonus points for those.

Barring any sudden changes, neither power play will likely be very active in this series. Neither has clicked consistently and it's doubtful that changes now. That said, considering the looming goaltending battle, even one power-play goal could be enough to change the course of the series so don’t underestimate the value of a sporadic successful power play.


Frankel kicks the puck out to her left while making a save from the butterfly position. She is wearing a white jersey along with her green/white mask and tan pads.
Aerin Frankel makes a save against Minnesota. Photo by Kelly Hagenson/PWHL.

In the season series, Boston started Frankel three times and Emma Söderberg once. Frankel sported a 0.925 SV% and 2.00 GAA, while Söderberg has an eerily similar 0.924 SV% and 2.00 GAA. Meanwhile, Minnesota started Nicole Hensley four times and Maddie Rooney once. Hensley earned a sparkling 0.953 SV% and 1.25 GAA, while Rooney’s one appearance was one she’d like to forget, resulting in a 0.733 SV% and 3.97 GAA.

This series will be a goalie-off, but not between the two goaltenders many would have expected leading into the playoffs. Most would've guessed Frankel versus Hensley, but instead, it'll be Frankel versus Rooney barring an epic collapse by either goaltender. Frankel was the better goaltender in the regular season, with a 2.00 GAA and 0.929 SV% (both third overall) through 18 games. Meanwhile, Rooney had a 2.08 GAA (fourth overall) and 0.915 SV% (tied for seventh overall) through 10 games. Both have been nearly unbeatable in the playoffs, with Rooney holding a slight statistical edge. Frankel carries a 0.97 GAA (third overall) and 0.972 SV% (second overall) through three games, while Rooney has a 0.45 GAA and 0.979 SV% (both first overall) through four games. 

Standard goalie statistics aside, Frankel is currently the goaltender to beat. She faced 51 more shots than Rooney in two fewer games and made numerous highlight reel saves. Rooney was outstanding when needed, but Minnesota’s defensive structure suffocated Toronto so she wasn’t tested as much. However, unless something rattles these goaltenders, both teams will have to find another gear offensively if they want to get anywhere.

The puck drops on Game 1 tonight at 5 p.m. at the Tsongas Center in Lowell, MA. The full schedule and where to watch information can be found on the league's website here.