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The Boston Pride Closing In On First

The Fins are way, way down.

@TheBostonPride

The Boston Pride officially have the Connecticut Whale on the ropes.

(Or, should I say...on the hook).

With Boston’s convincing 5-2 victory at Chelsea Piers on Sunday evening, the Pride have pulled within one point of the Whale and are threatening to overthrow them for first place. Of the four games remaining in the regular season, the Pride will face off with the Whale in two of them, on February 14 at home and again the following weekend on the road. The Pride are on a three-game win streak, led by Hilary Knight and Briana Decker, who have combined for 13 points in those three games. Highlight reel from Sunday:

And even though she allowed two goals, Brittany Ott was brilliant as always.

Meanwhile, the Whale have been dealt two straight losses at the hands of the Pride and seem to be in a free-fall. They are dealing with a multitude of issues, most recently the resignation of former head coach Jake Mastel and the quick and questionable hiring of Heather Linstad to replace him.

On the ice, the Whale’s defense has been dismantled by the Pride over the past two weeks, and they must face the unpredictable Buffalo Beauts this weekend, who now hold sole possession of third place.  Assuming that both the Whale and the Pride can beat the Beauts and the Riveters, the season comes down to those final games between the two teams to decide who will claim the #1 spot heading into the playoffs.

As Dani Rylan announced during media availability at the NWHL All-Star Game two weeks ago, the playoffs will take place on March 4-6 and 11-13.  Each series will be the best of three, with the #1 and #4 teams and the #2 and #3 teams facing off and the winners advancing to the second weekend. If the season ended today, it would be Whale v. Riveters and Pride v. Beauts.

The locations of the playoffs have not been announced yet, but presumably the higher seed would have home ice. Personally I would prefer to have as many games at Bright Hockey Center (and on NESN?) as possible before the season comes to a close, but we'll have to wait and see.