Last weekend of the PWHL regular season — What to expect as it all shakes out

The IX: Hockey Friday with The Ice Garden, May 3, 2024

Happy weekend everyone! It’s Emma Sullivan from The Ice Garden here to bring you the latest women’s hockey news for Hockey Friday. This week we’ve got some insights on what to expect from the PWHL in the last weekend of the regular season, plus some happenings overall from the hockey world over the last week. Let’s get right into it, shall we? 

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So, what should we expect this weekend in the PWHL?

This weekend is the last set of games of the inaugural PWHL season (how has it gone by so fast?) and to celebrate, we’re gonna take a look at some of the biggest storylines going into the last three games of the year. 

Who will secure the final two playoff spots? 

Toronto and Montréal have already locked down their spots in the postseason, with New York securing the first overall pick after missing out on the playoffs a few weeks ago. Two more spots are up for grabs — with three teams remaining. So who gets the last spot? 

Minnesota arguably has the best shot, with 35 points overall and a game at New York on deck on Saturday. The team from the State of Hockey is coming off a 4-1 loss against Toronto this past Wednesday, and NY is riding high after taking down Ottawa at home the day before. Minnesota needs just one point to secure their spot in the playoffs and I think they can do it. But it all comes down to Saturday, and just maybe New York is able to play spoiler. 

Ottawa and Boston are tied at 32, with games against Toronto and Montréal on deck respectively. Boston will have a chance to play at home, but that doesn’t give as much of an advantage considering they have just two regulation wins at home this season in 11 games played. The teams haven’t played since March 2, with Montréal snagging the win 3-1 at Verdun Auditorium. Boston will be looking for revenge after the team from Quebec beat them in OT the last time they met in Massachusetts. Combine playoff aspirations and the current Boston hot streak, and we might just see the team leapfrog up into a playoff spot in their last game of the regular season.

If Boston is hot, Ottawa is lukewarm, with two wins and two losses since the international break. The team has been looking to clinch a playoff spot since those two wins however, and have fallen short in their last two contests — including coughing up a 2-0 lead to lose 4-3 against New York on Tuesday. They’re also still on the road, going into Toronto to play a team that hasn’t lost at home since January 17.


Ottawa will need to score and score early if they want to take down the team from Toronto. The only other time they played at Mattamy Athletic Center they secured a 5-1 win, and have three wins and just one loss against Toronto all season. There’s a good chance they secure another win on Sunday — and the playoff seeding very well could come down to it. 

It’ll be a thrilling weekend of hockey no doubt, and the playoff race is just one part of it. 

Leading scorer — Can MPP or Carpenter take over Spooner? 

With one game to go, it looks as though Natalie Spooner is about to come away with the scoring title, leading the league in both goals (18) and points (25). 

But then you look at the names behind her, Marie-Philip Poulin and Alex Carpenter, who both have 22 points themselves. 

Carpenter, on the aforemention eliminated New York team, is one of just two NY skaters to be in the top 20 in points altogether (Ella Shelton is tied for seventh with 18 and is the highest scoring defender in the PWHL this season). The forward has played in all 23 games this year, but has gone without a goal in the PWHL since February 21. If she can notch a goal on Saturday, plus add in a couple assists, there’s a good chance she can challenge Spooner for the first-ever scoring title. Wouldn’t that be something? 

Then you have Poulin — is anyone surprised she’s this high on the list? The Montréal captain missed three games this season before the international break, but still is tied for second in scoring league-wide. If there’s anyone who can put up a four or five point game, it’s her. Regardless, she’ll end the season at over a point per game and will be one of the only players to do so. 

Keep an eye on Poulin to truly challenge Spooner, but otherwise it looks as though the Toronto forward is heading home with both the points and goal scoring titles in her pocket. 

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The power of goaltending

It’s a pretty safe bet that Montréal second-string netminder Elaine Chuli is going to run away with the best save percentage in the league this season, but what about the rest of the goaltenders in the PWHL? 

No one is catching Kristen Campbell in wins with 15 overall this season, six clear of second place Emerance Maschmeyer in Ottawa. However, can the Toronto goaltender keep her goals against average beneath two? She’s one of four netminders to have a sub 2.0 goals against average, however at 1.99 overall it’ll be tough to keep that down against the high-scoring Ottawa offense. 

In their quest for the playoffs, Boston has relied heavily on both Aerin Frankel and Emma Söderberg. Frankel’s .930 save percentage is tied for second best in the league, and she has a real shot to hop over Corinne Schroeder of New York for sole possession of second place by the end of the weekend. Of the goaltenders with over 15 games played, the Boston starter has the lowest goals against with 32 — just one behind Ann-Renée Desbiens in Montréal. A close eye should be kept on Boston to see if Frankel can stand strong potentially against Desbiens herself at the Tsongas Center this weekend. 

Regardless, if there’s one thing to take away from this season, it’s that goaltending is not lacking in the PWHL. Every netminder that took the ice this season was outstanding, as they all finished saving 90% or more of the shots they faced. The shakeup of the offseason is fast approaching, but overall 2024 has proven to be the year of the goaltender — and the playoff questions rely heavily on the shoulders of the three starters whose teams are vying for those last two spots. 

It’s going to be a fun weekend, so be sure to tune in! 

The latest in the game

PWHL playoffs set to start on May 8  — The Ice Garden

Looking for all you need to know for the Walter Cup Playofs? TIG’s Alyssa Turner has you covered. From start dates, to first round locations, to ticket sales, this piece has it all, so be sure to check it out before the end of the regular season. 

PWHL Draft 2024 prospect rankings The Athletic

With the PWHL draft set to be held in Minnesota some time this offseason, The Athletic did their first rankings of the best players available to be drafted in 2024. They highlight their 30 best players available, and who they expect to go No. 1 overall. 

Hungary leap frogs France for promotion — The Hockey News

With the end of the World Championships comes relegation and promotion. In Division I, Norway secured their first place finish to bump back up to Group B, while Hungary beat out France in a tightly fought contest to send them back to the top division for just the fourth time ever. The Hockey News has a full breakdown of what went down in Division I.

PWHL New York vs. Ottawa recap: The Victory Press 

Following their disappointing loss to Toronto on Sunday, New York beat out Ottawa at the Prudential Center in order to secure the first overall pick in the 2024 draft. It’s been a disappointing season for the team from NY, but this win over Ottawa puts them in a great place to rebound next season already. For more, be sure to check out the recap linked above. 

P-Dub in Twenty – Episode 12 The Ice Garden

Looking for some audio content? The latest episode of P-Dub in Twenty is live now on The Ice Garden’s website, focusing on all things from the playoff picture to the pregame outfit game to Madison Packer of PWHL New York. Check it out for more!

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