NWHL update: Boston loses win streak, Minnesota goes for the Cup again

Allie Thunstrom of the Minnesota Whitecaps flies up the ice in a game against the Boston Pride where she puts an end to the longest winning streak in NWHL history. (Photo courtesy of The Hockey News)

This upcoming weekend, the NWHL will host the 2020 All-Star Skills Challenge on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET, followed by the 2020 All-Star Game on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET. Both events will be held at Warrior Ice Arena in Boston, featuring an opportunity for fans to skate with players before the game on Sunday. Jillian Dempsey of the Boston Pride and Madison Packer of the Metropolitan Riveters will serve as captains of their respective teams.

Now that we’ve reached the league’s All-Star break, it’s a good time to look at the current standings and gauge each team’s prospects heading into the final stretch of the regular season. While every team will be given a chance to compete in the postseason, the Isobel Cup Playoffs’ seeding is relatively clear now. We can expect most teams to remain in their current positions, but there are ongoing implications for the postseason’s play-in game.

1. Boston Pride (20-1-0)

The Pride had their perfect season shattered by the Minnesota Whitecaps in a 4-3 loss, ending the team’s win streak at 19. They bounced back in a 4-2 win against the Whitecaps one day later, but it must’ve hurt for Boston given they were five wins away from an undefeated season. With three regular-season games remaining, two against the Connecticut Whale and one against the Riveters, the Pride will look to head into the playoffs on a four-game win streak.

2. Minnesota Whitecaps (13-5-2)

It may have only been one game, but the defending Isobel Cup champions proved they’re capable of defeating the league’s top team. If the Whitecaps eventually meet the Pride in this year’s Isobel Cup Finals, it will also be decided by a single, all or nothing game. Minnesota returns to action on Feb. 22 and 23 with a pair of games against the Buffalo Beauts on the road, followed by two games against the Whale to wrap up their regular season on home ice.

3. Metropolitan Riveters (8-9-2)

In their most recent weekend of action, the Riveters fell short in a 2-1 shootout loss against Connecticut, but quickly rebounded in a 4-2 win the next day. They’re currently five points ahead of Buffalo for the third seed, but the Beauts have one game in hand. The Riveters have five regular season games left in their attempt to avoid the postseason’s play-in game, all of which will be played on home ice, including four crucial matchups against the Beauts.

4. Buffalo Beauts (6-11-1)

Despite having more games remaining than any other team, this is an uphill battle for the Beauts if they hope to leapfrog the Riveters. They haven’t played since Jan. 12, which can be seen as either beneficial rest or a burden in shaking off the rust. With four road games against the Riveters and two home games against the Whitecaps, there’s a lot of work for Buffalo if they hope to prevent a matchup against the Whale in the postseason’s play-in game.

5. Connecticut Whale (2-16-2)

While it’s mathematically possible for Connecticut to finish as high as fourth in the NWHL standings, they would need to win all of their four remaining games, while the Beauts would need to lose all of their six remaining games in regulation. The likelihood of this is quite bleak, meaning the Whale will probably be the visitors for the postseason’s play-in game. Their schedule is also unfavourable, including a pair of games against both the Pride and Whitecaps.

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