The GIST - Special Edition: Hiya Barbie

Let the first ever PWHL playoffs begin ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌
Special Edition
From The GIST Team

Hello again!

And happy start to the PWHL playoffs. The inaugural postseason begins tonight with four of the league’s six teams competing to hoist the Walter Cup. Without further ado, here’s everything you need to know before puck drop.

Quote of The Day
Quote This is what you want.
Hilary Knight smiling, wearing a Boston jersey

— PWHL Boston captain and Team USA women’s hockey legend Hilary Knight, on preparing to take on fellow face of the game and longtime rival, Montréal’s Marie Philip Poulin, in the first round. Talk about star power.

The Breakdown

🏒 How it works

Brittany Howard #41 of Toronto and Marie-Philip Poulin #29 of Montréal skate after the puck during the third period in the PWHL game
Source: Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Twenty-four regular-season games each, one international break, and just over four months later, the four-team playoff picture features No. 1 seed Toronto, No. 2 Montréal, No. 3 Boston, and No. 4 Minnesota.

But this isn’t your typical No. 1 vs. No. 4 and No. 2 vs. No. 3 semifinal — the league added an extra layer of spice and allowed the No. 1 seed to choose the No. 3 or No. 4 team as their first opponent.

  • Toronto stuck with the standard and selected Minnesota, surely extra fuel for Minny’s fire.

As for the road ahead, the best-of-five semis start tonight, with Toronto and Montréal hosting Games 1 and 2 before the series shift for Games 3 and 4. If a Game 5 is necessary, it’ll be hosted by the better seed.

  • From there, winners advance to the best-of-five final with the inaugural Walter Cup on the line.

Postseason rules notably differ slightly from the regular season: Should the game be tied after the three 20-minute periods, the teams will then play 15-minute overtime (OT) periods until someone scores. Similar to the NHL, it’s heart-pumping sudden death, so the team that scores first wins. *bites nails*

🏒 The teams

PWHL Toronto huddles before a game
Source: TSN

🟦 Toronto: After a sputtering start, Toronto went on to dominate, notching a record-setting 11-game win streak across February and March. And while they bring it on offense, boasting the league’s top two scorers and leading the league in goals scored, they also have a shutdown D that’s allowed the fewest goals in the PWHL. Terrifying.

🟥 Montréal: This squad gave their record-setting crowds plenty to celebrate, playing consistent hockey to hover near the top of the standings all season long. However, the team’s OT record (3-5) is cause for concern, especially given the increased pressure of the postseason.

🟩 Boston: Call an ambulance, but not for them. Boston went on a tear at the end of the regular season, winning four of their last five games to move from fifth in the standings to third. That said, offensive production is a big red flag for this squad, who scored the fewest goals of any team in the regular season.

🟪 Minnesota: It’s been an up-and-down season in the State of Hockey. Minny started the year by setting a women’s hockey attendance record (which has since been broken) and rattled off a five-game win streak before the international break in March.

  • But they’ve faltered as of late, losing their last five games. Which team will show up now that they’ve squeaked into the postseason? TBD.
Together With The GIST

⛳The GIST’s Book Club: Reviewing Fangirl Down

The GIST Book Club's review of Fangirl Down by Tessa Baile
Source: The GIST

Fangirl Down is the spicy golf book we didn’t know we needed.

A bad boy golfer falls for his number one fan after hiring her as his caddie. Not only is their chemistry adorable, but author Tessa Bailey weaves in commentary on male friendships, chronic illness, and how sports media portrays women. *golf claps*

If you’ve ever crushed on an athlete, this book is for you. Plus, we can’t wait for the hockey spin-off!

May’s book club read is Night Shift by Annie Crown. Read along on Fable, and join our book club list to stay up-to-date.

💪 Players to watch

Montréal’s Marie Philip-Poulin skates against Toronto’s Natalie Spooner
Source: Mark Blinch/Getty Images

Natalie Spooner, Toronto, Forward: Spooner led the league in points (27) and goals (20) this regular season…and it wasn’t close. To put her jaw-dropping campaign in perspective, the MVP front-runner has scored seven power play goals, while Minnesota’s entire roster has five. Must be that mom strength.

Marie Philip-Poulin, Montréal, Forward: They don’t call her Captain Clutch for nothing. Montréal’s fearless leader and hometown hero sits near the top of the league in both goals and assists — a testament to her enduring, game-changing impact. Plus, she lives for the big moment, as evidenced by her countless legendary plays. Truly magnifique.

Aerin Frankel, Boston, Goalie: Frankel was a major part of Boston’s success down the stretch, posting an impressive .945 save percentage in April. And given Boston’s aforementioned scoring struggles, the local NCAA product will need to stand on her head all postseason long.

Kendall Coyne Schofield, Minnesota, Forward: It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s supermom. The fastest woman in hockey relished the opportunity to compete in a league of her own. If she can continue putting defenders on their heels, Minny might just overcome that late-season slump.

📺 How to tune in

Record crowd celebrates at Montréal’s Bell Centre
Source: Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

As mentioned, the fun begins tonight when Toronto hosts Minnesota at Coca-Cola Coliseum (a venue move which sees an increase in seats from 2,600 to 8K+) for Game 1 at 7 p.m. ET. Montréal and Boston then start their series tomorrow at 7 p.m. ET from Place Bell (a 10K-seater).

  • Canadian viewers can tune in on TSN4, while those outside of the Great White North can watch for free on the league’s YouTube channel. Let’s do that freakin’ hockey.
The GIST's Picks

Peep our squad’s MVPs (Most Valuable Picks):

📚 What to read

This article on the long women’s hockey history that led to the formation of the PWHL. Record-setting inaugural seasons don’t just happen overnight.

🛍️ What to shop

This PWHL mug. No better way to start your mornings than with the perfect cuppa in your new favorite mug.

🌈 What to watch

This double proposal during a recent PWHL Boston game. We’re not crying, you’re crying.

Fun and Games

Question of the Day

Now that you’re primed on all things PWHL playoffs, which team do you think is going to take home the Walter Cup?

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