Winners of four straight, the #1 Boston College Eagles will come into this upcoming weekend as not just the hottest team in Hockey East, but the hottest in college hockey. The problem for the Eagles ? This may just be the ultimate trap game weekend. A week from Friday, BC will host school rival Notre Dame before facing arch nemesis Boston University on Sunday. With maybe the biggest weekend in school history approaching, two games vs a pair of teams that have combined for 0 league points this year may concern some Eagle fans. Why are my concerned you may ask ? Well, I'm not really, but I don't think that these two games will be complete beatdowns like the results we have seen in the past three games (besides Friday). While Maine is by far the worst team in this league and maybe one of the worst in the country, they always play well at Alfond Arena for games versus teams like Boston College. With the intense atmosphere and the fact that they will be facing off against a team that will surely be hungry to beat the best team in the league, this young BC team needs to stay poised and continue to do what it has been doing. When it comes to the first two lines, Maine has zero chance of stopping them and unless they get outstanding goaltending, they won't keep BC's first two lines off the board. The concern for BC however is that while BC's third and maybe fourth line will most likely outplay Maine's bottom two lines, they need to start scoring and they need to start quickly. I do believe that the first two lines are enough firepower to beat any team in this league, let alone Maine, but as the season goes on and BC faces teams like UNH and BU, the third and fourth lines need to score. What better weekend to start putting the puck in the net than against the two worst teams in the league ?
On the defensive side of things, it is great to see guys like Teddy Doherty and Mike Matheson, both freshman, playing outstanding hockey. Like I said on Sunday, I think Teddy Doherty is by far and away the most improved player from day one to today. It was fantastic to see him set up two Kevin Hayes goals on Sunday (one being on the power play) and to see him start to play much better in his own zone (he is +2 for the year). The one problem I have right now with the defense is that they are taking way to many penalties. Pat Wey and Mike Matheson have combined for a stunning eighteen minutes in the box this year including six total minutes in Sunday's game versus UMass-Lowell. Besides the penalties, you've got to be happy with the fact that each and every defenseman is playing solid hockey right now and the unit as a whole is playing much better than we thought they would at this point.
In terms of Parker Milner, I don't have to say much besides the fact that he has been phenomenal. Ever since that BC Invitational win last February, his play has been exceptional in every game he has played in. The fabulous goaltending has certainly made up for any mistakes the young defense has/may have made during this season.
All in all, this weekend is what I like to call a "four point must". If BC wants to show that it is the best team in this league, they can't be losing games to lowly teams like Maine and UMass. With the Eagles playing great hockey as of late, I don't fear a letdown of any sorts but just because the opponent has had a bad year up to this point doesn't mean it can't catch BC on a bad night.
Maine preview coming tomorrow.
GO EAGLES !