RIVS TALK WITH FALK: HOME SWEET HOME
By Matt Falkenbury
After two months of either not playing or playing on the road, the Metropolitan Riveters are back home on Saturday to take on the Boston Pride at 7:00 p.m. EST. This game will mark the fifth meeting of the 2019-20 NWHL season between the two Founding Four franchises.
With the Riveters coming off a tough 2-1 win on the road against the Whale, they are counting on home ice advantage and the support of their loyal fans to help them slay the dragon that is the 10-0-0 Pride.
It won’t be easy, but this franchise has given the Pride its first loss in every season since the league started, so anything is possible. It's also worth noting that the Riveters are the only team to hold a lead over Boston this year — and they've done it twice.
Here are my three keys to the matchup on Saturday.
The Riveters have had issues all season long with allowing teams to dominate puck possession and in turn, having goalie Sam Walther get peppered with shots. Walther has faced 280 shots in seven starts, which averages out to 40 shots against per game. That number doesn’t include shots that were blocked, missed the net or hit the post.
Controlling the puck, keeping the Pride to the outside when they gain the offensive zone and even potentially trying to jam the neutral zone are things that the Riveters need to do on Saturday. Boston's ability to fly up the ice through the neutral zone leaves little room for error.
DEFENSE INTO OFFENSE
Other than Rebecca “Moose” Morse, no other defender on the Riveters has scored a goal. Moose is also the only defender with more than one point on the season. In years past, getting offense from the defense was a calling card for the franchise, but so far, that hasn’t been the case in 2019-20.
To pull off an upset, you sometimes need players you wouldn’t typically expect to come through with a big play or a big goal. A big game from one of the Riveters defenders in the offensive zone would go a long way towards upsetting the Pride on Saturday night.
ANOTHER BRICK IN THE WALTHER
Sam Walther has been an absolute revelation for the Riveters this season. Before the season began there were questions about how she would handle being a full-time starter and she has answered them all. The overall numbers don’t jump off the page, but she is the reason the Riveters have two wins and have generally been within shouting distance of the Pride a couple of times.
There will be a time this season where Walther has an otherworldly game and completely steals the show. When you watch her play, it seems like an inevitability. Maybe it happens on Saturday.
Matt Falkenbury is the play-by-play broadcaster for the Metropolitan Riveters. Catch Matt and the Riveters all season long on the NWHL on Twitch.
Photo Credit: Kate Frese