This weekend, the Eagles will look to become the first team ever to win three straight Hockey East championships but standing in their way will be a tough Providence College team. Why do I say tough ? Well, the Friars responded to being swept by Lowell two weeks ago by turning it around and beating them in the first round of the Hockey east playoffs last weekend. One big reason the Friars were able to beat Lowell was the return of their star forward Tim Schaller. Schaller had missed the previous five games for PC, including their weekend series vs BC three weeks ago. Schaller has recorded fourteen goals so far this season which leads all Friar players. In that weekend series three weeks ago, BC outscored PC by a combined total of 10-0 over the two games. Friday's game was actually a very hard fought game in which Providence was only down one goal to the Eagles heading into the third period. Saturday's game was a different story as the Eagles exploded for five goals in the first period. I think BC has two really big advantages versus the Friars coming into the weekend. The first big advantage I think BC has is that they have a lot of really skilled guys that allow the Eagles to be very deep. The Friars on the other hand are not as deep and will have a very tough time matching up versus BC's bottom three lines. The other big advantage BC has is that they have experience on their roster. Every player on the Eagles has played a game that has a playoff like atmosphere (i.e. the Beanpot) while the Friars have just seven guys that were on their roster when they lost to BC in the 2008 Hockey East quarterfinals (The last time PC was in the playoffs)
If you look at the three meetings between Providence and BC this year, it jumps out to you that the Eagles have dominated the series so far (BC has outscored PC 14-1). BC obviously matches up very well versus Providence as BC's speedy forwards seem to create some real problems for the Friars, especially on defense. Friar goalie Alex Beaudry, who is usually a very reliable goaltender for PC, has really struggled vs BC this season as he has let in ten of BC's fourteen goals. I think the return of Schaller will really help PC in a bunch of areas such as PP, PK, and by looking at minutes he logs for that team he should have a big impact. While Schaller may be a difference maker, I think BC will come in ready to play. I think BC can really create problems for PC by using their speed to create plays in the offensive zone and by continuing to play solid in the defensive zone. This season, BC has done a great job of playing team defense against PC as they have only allowed an average of 25 shots in the three games combined. After all, the Eagles have won ten straight games in the TD Garden dating back to March 2009 so lets hope it continues this weekend.
Keys for the Eagles
1. BC needs to use their speed. I think this is the biggest advantage BC has over a lot of teams but Providence in particular. For one reason or another, the Friars have really struggled containing BC's speed all season.
2. Stay out of the box. With Schaller back, I look for PC's power play to be a little more effective when given the opportunity. If BC can stay out of the box, look for a nice Eagle victory.
3. Limit the second chances for PC. I thought BC did a fantastic job a couple of weeks ago when they really limited Providence's second chance opportunities. Hopefully it continues.
Players to Watch
1. Tim Schaller leads all Friars in goals and is third on the team in points. He missed the last two games versus BC.
2. Ross Mauermann was named to Hockey East's all freshman team. Mauermann has recorded a 10-15- 25 line this season and has the most points on the Friars' roster.
3. Matt Bergland has the most assist on Providence this season. Bergland has recorded a 7-16-23 line so far this season.
All Time Series- BC is 105-45-12 all time vs PC and are also 6-3 all time in the Hockey East tournament. BC is unbeaten in it's last 11 vs PC.
Twitter- Follow me @bchockeyblog1 for updates during the course of tomorrow's game versus Providence.
Injury Note- Brian Dumoulin is good to go for tomorrow night's game.