Just how good are the Boston Pride?

It seems obvious to say, but the Boston Pride – the runaway leaders in the National Women’s Hockey League – are quite good.

Posting a 16-0-0 record, with just one game remaining of the shortened NWHL regular season, there is a very good chance that the Pride will round out the season undefeated. They weren’t even this good on their way to the Isobel Cup last season.

So why are they so effective? Why can’t anyone beat them? Do they have any weaknesses? Let’s take a look.

Scoring

It is the most base of hockey facts that if you score more goals than the other team, you win the game. But, it is one that the Pride have taken to heart.

Goals For Per Game Goals Against Per Game
Boston 4.44 1.62
vs Boston 1.62 4.25
Rest of league average 2.95 3.79
Next best Connecticut Whale (3.35) New York Riveters (3.18)

It’s not just that the Pride are outscoring their opponents, and conceding less goals, it’s that they’re doing it at a much better rate than the league average – scoring just less than 1.5 more goals a game and conceding over two goals a game less than the average totals of the rest of the league.

Even their closest rivals in both departments are well behind – the Whale score 1 goal a game less, and the Riveters concede 1.5 goals more a game.

Shot generation

Behind all good scoring teams is a good generation of scoring chances, and a reasonable shot percentage rate. The Pride have both, in abundance.

Shots Per Game Shot Percentage
Boston 35.31 12.21
vs Boston 23.875 6.81
Rest of league average 28.01 10.52
Next best Connecticut Whale (30.88) New York Riveters (11.58)

Seven more shots per game against the league average, with a two-percentage-points higher scoring rate than the rest too. More impressive is the way they manage to suppress the opposition. They manage to restrict their opposition to having 11.5 less shots per game, and of those, half the rate of their own goes past their own netminder. They are a mighty fine two-way team.

Goaltending

Behind every good team is a goalie who can get the job done. In Brittany Ott and Lauren Slebodnick, they have two.

Goaltending
GAA Sv% GP
Boston Team 1.61 0.932 16
Brittany Ott 1.82 0.927 12
Lauren Slebodnick 1.22 0.942 7
vs Boston 4.21 0.88 16
Rest of league average 3.75 0.88 16.67
Next best Individual Katie Fitzgerald (NYR) – 3.09 – 14GP Sojung Shin (NYR) – .898 – 5GP
Team New York Riveters 3.13 0.894 17

In their tandem, Boston have what is comfortably the best in the league. Slebodnick has proven a very capable understudy for Ott, and nobody comes close to touching them. We have spoken before about the heroics of Katie Fitzgerald, but she sees more ice time, and more pucks, than either of her Boston counterparts.

As mentioned above, the Pride face fewer shots than anyone else per game, but when they get through, their goalies are more than capable of keeping up their end of the bargain.

Special teams

A good powerplay and a good penalty kill will set you well on your way to being a good hockey team. Again….you know the drill.

Powerplay % Penalty Kill %
Boston  16.1 89.2
vs Boston  10.8  83.9
Rest of league average  18.77  79.5
Next best  Buffalo Beauts (22.2)  Buffalo Beauts (82.1)

In a startling revelation, the Pride do not have the best powerplay in the NWHL. That honour goes to the Buffalo Beauts. In fact, the Pride’s powerplay is below the league average. That said, 16.1% is nothing to be sniffed at, especially when paired with the league-leading penalty kill.

The penalty kill lead isn’t even close. Seven percent higher than the second-best, almost 10% higher than the rest-of-league average. If you score on a powerplay against the Pride, fair play, because you’ll have deserved it.

Scoring leaders

To be the best, you’ve got to have the best players right?

Goals Assists Points
Boston Brianne Decker 13 Alex Carpenter 19 Brianne Decker 30
Beauts Corinne Buie 8 Kourtney Kunichika 9 Emily Juniga, Kourtney
Kunichika, Corinne Buie
11
Whale Haley Skarupa 11 Nicole Costa, Haley Skarupa 10 Haley Skarupa 21
Riveters Janine Weber 9 Amanda Kessel 13 Janine Weber 21

Surprise, surprise, the Pride have the leaders in goals, assists and points. The trio of Brianne Decker, Alex Carpenter and Meghan Duggan are some of the game’s true greats, and along with Amanda Kessel are the stars of the league. Fortunately for the others, the four don’t combine, what with Kessel being in New York, but the three together do enough damage on their own.

I’m now imagining a powerplay unit of Kessel, Decker, Carpenter, Duggan and Janine Weber and I’m scared, guys.

How do you stop them?

The one chink in the armour is their powerplay. So, I dunno, take some penalties?

Honestly, they’re 16-0 for a reason. They’re bloody good.

#StopBoston2017 has one more call – a road game in New York on Sunday. Failing that, they will have home seeding in the playoff semi, and will likely make it to the final, looking to make it two for two in the Isobel Cup final.

If someone manages to stop them in the playoffs, they’ll deserve their names on the trophy.

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