Pride in the Pack: Strength in Numbers
After the first month of the 2019-20 season, the Boston Pride has established dominance so far in both league standings and statistical categories. Having played three out of the four other teams, the Pride are undefeated heading into the second month of the season. Their 7-0-0 record has created a large gap, as the next best record belongs to the Minnesota Whitecaps with three wins, two losses, and one overtime loss. The Whitecaps only two regulation losses so far have been against the red-hot Pride.
What have been the Pride's keys to success? The most notable takeaway is that they are not afraid to fire pucks on goal. The Pride currently leads the league with 323 shots on goal through seven games, averaging an astonishing 46 shots per game. The Whitecaps follow their lead with an average of 40 shots on goal per game. The Pride also hold the league record so far with shots on goal in a single game with a whopping 61.
This Pride's ability to pepper the opposition's net has led to them dominating the league's offensive statistics. Along with leading in shots on goal, the Pride lead in goal differential, goals per game, and scoring. Their league-leading goal differential comes in at an astounding +23, meaning they have scored 23 more goals than the number of goals scored against them. Boston is the only team to have a player with a positive +/- in double digits, and they have two of them: Jillian Dempsey and McKenna Brand (+11).
Furthermore, Boston is the only team without a single player having a negative +/-. Since they lead by so much in goal differential - the next closest differential is the Whitecaps with +7 - it's no surprise that they also lead the league with 5.1 goals per game. In total, the Pride leads in scoring with 36 goals. With these kinds of statistics, it's easy to see why it's hard for teams to get a shot in edge-wise.
While the seven-game win streak has been a team effort, the Pride's top five-skater unit has been responsible for much of the magic. The offensive line of Jillian Dempsey, McKenna Brand, and Christina Putigna has combined for 119 shots on goal this season. To put that in perspective, the entire Buffalo Beauts team has only two more shots on goal through their five games. When the defensive pairing of Lexi Bender and Lauren Kelly on the ice with the top line, Boston's ability to generate shots reaches another level.
On her own, Brand has 55 shots on goal, that's an average of 7.8 per game. The second and third shots on goal leaders in the league are fellow teammates Dempsey, 42, and Mary Parker, 38. Outside of the Pride, only three players in the league have more than 30 shots on goal. Dempsey, Brand, and Putigna are the league's top-three point leaders with 13, 13, and 11 points, respectively. Additionally, Brand leads the league with seven goals, with teammate Carlee Toews coming in third with five goals. Lastly, Dempsey is tied for first for assists (9), with linemate Putigna coming in second with eight helpers of her own.
Another key to the Pride's success stems from their collective prowess on the faceoff dot. Boston has had success winning draws in the neutral zone and immediately transitioning to rushes as well as creating scoring chances from set plays in the offensive zone. Jillian Dempsey and Lexie Laing established themselves as elite in the first month of the season. Laing holds a 64% success rate on the dot with 71 wins and only 39 losses. Dempsey holds a 59% win record with an incredible 84 wins and 59 losses. Additionally, Dempsey leads the league in takeaways with 14 - the second most takeaways by an individual player is seven.
Behind every great offense is a great defense. For the Pride teamwork truly makes the dream work.
Despite their apparent dominance in puck possession, Boston is tied for most shots blocked in the league with 64. Aside from being scoring machines, the Pride players are also physical and not afraid to get their hands dirty to gain puck possession. One such example is Kaleigh Fratkin, who has taken six minor penalties to lead the team in that category.
Of course, the last ingredient to the Pride's early success has been exceptional goaltending. Lovisa Selander leads every goalie stat category. She's been in net for all seven of Boston's victories and has posted a .949 save percentage and a 1.88 GAA (goals against average). Her numbers to date have been sensational.
Moving forward, the Pride will want to continue to play the fast-paced, aggressive style that has led to them dominating puck possession and suffocating the opposition with shots and scoring chances. Whether or not the rest of the NWHL's teams will be able to adjust to Boston's strategies and style remains to be seen, but the Pride will be a hard team to slow down.
The Pride's next big test comes tonight at 6:30 p.m. EST against the visiting Buffalo Beauts. Tickets for tonight's game and all future Pride home games are available at pride.nwhl.zone/tickets. Tonight's game will be streamed on twitch.tv/nwhl2 and all game streams can be found on game day at nwhl.zone/nwhl-on-twitch.
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National Women's Hockey League Stories from November 16, 2019
- Before Packed Crowd, Brand Scores Twice in 13 Seconds in Boston Victory - Boston Pride
- Pride in the Pack: Strength in Numbers - Boston Pride
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