Thursday, January 3, 2013

Previewing the #17 Yale University Bulldogs

Boston College will look to get back to it's winning ways this weekend when they face off vs ECAC foe Yale Friday night at Conte Forum. As we all know, the Eagles got smashed last weekend in Minnesota as they fell to the host Gophers by a score of 8-1 in what was a pretty horrendous display of hockey. The best news is that the Eagles will be facing off against what is a solid Bulldog squad but is certainly nowhere near the same caliber of the Golden Gophers. Unfortunately, BC will once again be without Johnny G who continues to shine out in Russia during the World Jr Championships. I don't expect that the staff will make many lineup changes if any for this game but I wouldn't be surprised if you see some lines get a lot more playing time than they normally do. On the defensive end, the Eagles will have defenseman Isaac Macleod back from a shoulder injury so that should help smooth out the play in the defensive end. Look, I know lots of people are freaking out about the five freshman defenseman and all that but in reality, I do think it's going to take a lot of time for them to fully adjust but they will.  Parker Milner played his worst game of the year last weekend but I don't think the staff is too concerned with his play because he has certainly proved his worth over the course of his career at BC. If you ask me, the biggest problem right now is BC's penalty kill. Known for usually having the top PK in the country, BC's PK has been struggling since the start of December when they gave up a few vs the Terriers. The key to having a good penalty kill is having a goalie that can make some tough saves and usually Parker Milner does that but it certainly wasn't evident vs the Golden Gophers. Hopefully, everyone killing penalties tomorrow night snaps out of this funk and plays well.

While BC was having a rough time out in Minnesota last weekend, the Bulldogs didn't have much luck of their own back here in New England as they got stunned by Holy Cross on Saturday night. Besides that bad loss, Yale actually has some pretty quality wins over teams like Denver, Colorado College, and UMass so they certainly can't be taken for granted (especially in Johnny G's absence). So far this year, Yale ranks 5th in the ECAC with a 3-3-1 record in league and a 7-4-2 record overall. Leading the way for the Bulldogs so far this year is junior Kenny Agostiono who has currently racked up 7 goals and 10 assist. Also carrying the load up front, are seniors Andrew Miller (5-8-13) and Antoine Laganiere (9-7-16). In terms of team stats, Yale ranks 15th in the country in offense as they have averaged 3.15 goals per game and have allowed an average of 3 goals per game which ranks 45th in the nation. On special teams, the Yale power play ranks in the middle of the pack at 18th in the country scoring at about a 17% for the season. Their special teams and scoring are a bit above average but their team defense and goaltending, which has killed this team in the past, have not been great . They don't have a goalie that ranks in  the top 30, in either save percentage or in shutouts.

It certainly goes without saying that tomorrow night is going to show a ton about this Eagle team. Sunday was a disaster for everyone involved but hopefully the guys learned from it and can play well in front of a home crowd where they have not had a lose in over a year. I look for a game that is going to come down to the final 20 minutes and is going to be won with solid goaltending and special teams. I expect that Parker Milner will be back on his game and playing at a high level which should certainly help out the struggling penalty kill. One thing that I think would be a real positive for BC tomorrow would be scoring early. In games that they've won and played well in, the Eagles haven't just scored first but they've scored early and often. I think a tally in the first couple of minutes tomorrow night would go a long way in working towards a W.

Keys for the Eagles-

1. Not letting up a power play goal. I have been pretty disappointed in the play of the PK unit but I think tomorrow is an opportunity for some guys to redeem themselves. Need to win the battle of the special teams.

2. Getting off to a fast start. It didn't happen vs the Golden Gophers but it certainly needs to vs the Bulldogs. Getting a lead after the first period would be huge.

3. Everyone needs to give a better effort. If BC plays like they did on Sunday, a loss is probably imminent. I look for everyone from the bottom up to play at a higher level than they did last weekend.

Scouting Yale-

Key players- Kenny Agostiono, Antoine Laganiere, and Andrew Miller.

Best Wins- @ Denver, @ Colorado College, vs UMass.

Worst Losses- vs Holy Cross, vs RPI.

Pairwise Rank- 10

Injury Report- Macleod in, Alber out.

Go Eagles !

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