PWHL New York
Photo Credit: Chris Liverani

PWHL Preview: PWHL New York Host Boston in Must-Win Game

On Monday, PWHL New York (2-4-3-9) will battle with PWHL Boston (4-4-2-8) at UBS Arena on Long Island. It will be the fourth meeting of the 2023-24 PWHL season between these two clubs, and it can be chalked up as a must-win for PWHL New York, although both teams find themselves in dire straits. New York finds themselves sitting in last place in the PWHL standings with 17 points.

The teams from Beantown and the Big Apple have met three times this season, and New York holds the edge with one win, one overtime win, and one overtime loss while taking six points from a possible nine. PWHL Boston and New York are tied for the fewest goals scored (36) in the league this season. There is not much reason for PWHL New York to fear Boston's offense or their power play, which ranks last in the league. However, New York needs to play this game like the whole season is riding on it, and that means treating the game like they need to score five goals to win.

There are only six games remaining on the season's schedule for both PWHL New York and Boston, which makes both teams desperate. However, Howie Draper's Big Apple squad should be a bit more desperate as they have 17 points on the season compared to Boston's 22 and will need to run the table at this point to have a shot at being one of the four PWHL teams that will make the playoffs come the end of April. 

Here are two keys that PWHL New York will need to take care of in order to win on Monday.

Find a Spark Early

The last time these two teams played each other on Mar. 10, Boston scored in the first period, and New York was held scoreless. New York came back with two goals late in the second period, but it wasn’t enough as they ran out of steam in the third period and lost on a golden goal in overtime. During this seven-game winless streak, New York has not scored first in a single game, not a single game. 

One thing is clear based on that last stat, and that is that New York is not starting their games off with the requisite amount of energy. Of course, PWHL Boston scored first on a lucky bounce the last time these two teams played, but how lucky was it?

When Boston forward Hannah Brandt won a race to a loose puck behind New York's goal line, she threw the puck into the crease, and it went in off of PWHL NY goalie Abby Levy's stick. Brandt scored because she reached that loose puck before a PWHL New York player could.

In the first period on Monday, New York needs to take a page out of Brandt's book. This means relentlessly hunting down loose pucks in the offensive zone and throwing the puck on the net if there's no better option. New York have been outshot in all seven of the last seven games that they are winless in and they were outshot by the biggest margin they have all season in their last game against PWHL Boston (46-23).

This makes it clear that PWHL New York could benefit from holding onto the puck less and shooting more, especially against a team that is not much better than they are at keeping the puck out of the net. PWHL Boston has surrendered 45 goals this season, while New York has surrendered 47. SHOOT THE PUCK.

Don’t Get Outshot by Boston and Defend Better

One of the main reasons why PWHL New York has struggled as of late is they haven’t played well defensively. In fact, they have done terribly. One look at the amount of shots that PWHL New York is giving up per game, and you’ll understand. Over their last five games, New York has given up 34.8 shots per game and has gone 0-0-1-4 in that span. On the other hand, Boston is conceding 24.6 shots per game. That’s a pretty stark difference.

As I said in the previous heading, New York has to find a way to ignite their offense early, whether that’s by having their capable offensive defensemen, Ella and Jaime Bourbonnais, fire rubber on net from afar or their forwards taking care of business, they need to find a way to take more shots on goal in this game than PWHL Boston.

This will help their two goalies play better. On the season, Schroeder has a much better Goals-Against-Average (GAA) than her backup, Abby Levy, but there’s less of a difference when it comes to save percentage (SV%). Levy has a .922 and Schroeder a .935. This shows that if PWHL New York can start defending better in front of both of them, they’ll have a good shot to win the game because both goalies are capable.

On the other side of the ice on Monday, Boston will likely start Aerin Frankel. The Boston netminder is having a very good season because she has posted a .201 GAA and .929 SV %. However, the big difference that the stats don’t tell when it comes to each team's goaltending is the amount of shots they have been facing.

Again, if PWHL New York can find a way to outshoot Boston and keep their shots against under 30, I will give an advantage to the more desperate team on Monday. Look for Corinne Schroeder to start in net and New York to throw everything they have into this game, which could decide whether they have a chance to claw back into the playoff race, or not.

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Anthony Paradiso
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