After capturing a second straight Hockey East regular season championship on Saturday vs Vermont, the Eagles will now turn their focus to a team that has beaten them twice already this season, UMass. BC will faceoff vs the Minutemen in the first round of the Hockey East playoffs for the third straight season and BC has yet to lose one of those six games vs UMass. I think that everyone in that locker room knows that this is not your typical #1 vs #8 matchup as the Minutemen have a lot of guys like Syner, Hobbs, and Perriera, that play a very similar style of hockey to what BC brings to the table. UMass is a fast team that can really beat you with their speed and if they get good goaltending, they could definitely take one or two games rom the Eagles. As for the pairwise rankings, which are the rankings that determine the NCAA field, BC currently sits at #1 followed by Michigan and Lowell. While BC has all but assured themselves a spot in the NCAA tournament, the two most important tasks remaining are to win a Hockey East tournament championship and even more importantly, lock up the #1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament. If you look at last season, the Eagles were not the #1 overall seed and because UNH hosted the Northeast regional, the Eagles had to go out west and face a very good Colorado College team.
Although the Eagles swept UVM and picked up another trophy, the team really needs to play better here on out if they want to beat really good hockey clubs. I thought the team played much better on Saturday night compared to Friday night when they just looked dead for the better part of that hockey game. A couple of positives are that Parker Milner is playing out of this world right now and the special teams look like they are in tip top shape (Especially the PK). I think it is great that certain players like Destry Straight, Danny Linell, Patch Alber, and Quinn Smith are playing their best hockey of the season right now. If the fourth line can continue to play like they have been, this team can be even more dangerous in the offensive zone with all four lines being an offensive threat. My biggest concern however is the health of Brian Dumoulin. Dumoulin played this weekend but you could certainly see that the bruised knee is nagging him a little bit when he is skating. Being one of the best defenseman not just in the league but in the country, he needs to be healthy come next weekends games vs UMass.
With all of that said, I like this teams chances to win another Lamoriello trophy. I think the first round matchup vs UMass is going to be much closer then people expect, especially if BC plays like they did this weekend. I think it is going to be two (or three) very exciting hockey games because both of these teams play a fast, uptempo style of hockey (Vermont and Providence do not). The one problem for the Minutemen is that they have to come to Conte Forum. No Hockey East team besides BU wins at Conte Forum (It kills me to say that). Say what you want about Alfond and Lawler being the toughest places to play but if you look at the records, the toughest place to win a Hockey East game is Conte Forum. UMass has not won a game at Conte since November of 2007 and let's hope the streak doesn't end this weekend.
Happy championship season,