As we arrive at the midpoint of this season, it is quite clear that the Eagles have a lot of things going for them in a lot of ways but even at 11-2-1, they, as a team, have lots of areas in which they need improvement. I'll start tonight with the play of the special teams and how I would asses their play so far this year. Tomorrow, I'll do defenseman and later in the week, I'll do the forwards.
As we sit here today, BC currently has the number two power play in the nation, converting at a solid 27 percent so far this season. While 27 % is a good number, I'd say the majority of the goals came at the beginning of the season. As of late, I have become a bit concerned with the play of both units, but the last couple of games vs BU and Providence were a bit better (especially the second BU game). Having Mike Matheson running the first unit has been a big help but finding a defensive partner for him has been tough. The staff has tried Alber, Whitney, Wey, and now even Brooks Dyroff but for some reason, it hasn't been clicking as well as it was at the start of the year. The best news for BC is that they have been missing Destry Straight, a key player on the second unit, for the past month and have clearly missed him. When Straight and Johnny G (who will be back after the WJC) are both back, I look for the power play to get back to that high gear in which they were in at the start of the year. It's encouraging to see that Billy Arnold and Kevin Hayes are among the league leaders in terms of power play points but I think once BC is back at 100 %, both units are going to get drastically better. I don't know what the staff will do in terms of personnel but the first unit of Matheson-Whitney, Johnny G-Mullane-Linell, was actually looking pretty good. Once Straight went down, both units had to be rearrange and it has obviously had an effect on everybody.
Grade for the first half- B+
The Eagles have the number two penalty kill in Hockey East and are in the top ten in the country but are not playing as well as they were at the end of that year. From the Beanpot until the NCAA's I think BC allowed something like just two power play goals. This year, it hasn't been consistent enough vs the better power plays in the league such as BU's. I like the way some guys are performing on the kill but it is clear that others, who did not kill penalties a year ago, have struggled adjusting. I continue to think that Arnold, Whitney, and Mullane are three of the best penalty killers in the league but when they're not out there, it has been a bit of a struggle, especially vs potent power plays. In the second half, I hope they continue to play like they have the last two games because in order to win games in the Beanpot and NCAA's, you need to have an effective penalty kill.
Grade for the first half- B
Defenseman tomorrow or Wednesday