New York at Toronto – 7:00 p.m. ET – Mattamy Athletic Centre
Watch on Linear TV: TSN, MSG Networks
New York last played on January 20 on the road against Boston. They won by a score of 4-1. Their Points % is .444
Toronto lost another close one on January 23 on the road against Ottawa, 3-1 in regulation after an empty net goal. Toronto's Points % is .238.
New York has two regulation wins and one win in overtime out of six games so far. This is a nice simple example of how the three point system of the PWHL makes winning in overtime a small consolation. New York sits below .500 with half their games as wins.
New York's top skaters by points are Alex Carpenter and Ella Shelton, and Jessie Eldridge is third in the league and first on the team with four goals.
Corinne Schroeder is second in the league in Save % with .949 and Abigail Levy, New York's number two, is eighth with .910. League average is now up to .920.
Toronto continues to break new ground on the concept of never scoring. They have 11 goals on 224 shots for a lovely 4.9% rate. Their problems are not universal, however. Natalie Spooner is shooting 13%, Hannah Miller and Alexsa Vasko both have 16.7%. Jocelyne Laroque's single goal is a respectable result for a defender. The top goal-scoring defenders in the league only have two so far.
The problem starts with the goalless Blayre Turnbull who, with 26 shots, is responsible for 11% of the offence. Jesse Compher hasn't scored on 13 shots. The defenders have 55 shots between them or over 1/4 of the shots and just that one goal to show for it.
Those first two things are likely just runs of shooting variance – hitting a hot goalie on an extra hot day with some plain dumb luck thrown in. But to have the defence doing all this shooting, and it's mostly the top pair of Larocque and Renata Fast, you need your top lines to be driving the net for rebounds. Defenders just don't score much so their shots have to be a part of team offence. And so far, if there's a criticism to be made of how Toronto plays, it's in that team offence.
Of course, without game state information, we can't know how much of that defence shooting is on the power play. Toronto has 19 power play opportunities so far, and only the one goal, so they've had a lot of time for the PP point shot to be contributing to this tilt towards the D.
Not everyone agrees that a lot of shots from the defence are a problem. A lot of traditional hockey systems employ the low to high pass to the points in an effort to break up defensive coverage and a lot of people think the "quarterback" on the power play needs a big shot. But I don't think it's a good sign unless your defender is a very unusual player who has genuine shooting skill.
New York's Shelton is one of two defenders in the league with two goals so far and is also a big shooter.
Toronto needs offence that creates scoring chances. And with their defensive issues and the bottom two goalies in the league, they need to start cashing in on all that shooting. Erica Howe moved ahead of Kristen Campbell with a stronger, but losing, performance last game.
Come on Toronto, coming close is not what we're here to see. Score some damn goals.