Thursday, January 31, 2013

Previewing the University of Vermont Catamounts.

The conversations I've had with people about this BC Hockey team over the course of the past few weeks have gone like this. I tell them I'm worried and all that..they reply with, "They'll be fine, they always play well this time of year". Last year, it was this very weekend where the guys got hot and didn't lose another game for the rest of the season, winning the coveted Beanpot, Hockey East championship, and eventually, the NCAA title. Anyone can do anything when they have confidence in themselves. That is what this club needs to try and develop tomorrow night vs Vermont. They need to get their swagger back. The Eagles have lost two in a row and three of their past four games but all hope is certainly not lost, especially with a victory tomorrow night. Last weekend was just full of defensive breakdowns, no continued offensive pressure, and poor special teams (especially the PP). Star defenseman Mike Matheson has missed three and a half games over the course of the past couple weeks and with him getting healthier day by day, I look for BC's defense to improve. Actually, no, it has to improve. Without Colin Sullivan (upper body), I expect that the staff will play 5 defenseman and maybe dress 6 (not sure about McMullen...either way he won't play). Defensive zone play has to become a priority for this team tomorrow night. No bad turnovers in the neutral or defensive zones and keep the Catamount offensive zone rushes to a bare minimum.

On the offensive side of things, the Eagles will go with some new lines, of which I cannot report to you tonight but be sure to check in tomorrow afternoon for them. I can't tell you the combinations but I can say that they were put together so that BC can have 3 scoring lines, not just two lines that can score and two that do nothing offensively. The offensive production last weekend was close to horrendous and the blame shouldn't go to the bottom 6 guys because their job is not to put up 3 goals per game. No. Some of BC's big guns like Mullane, Johnny G, and Hayes really struggled vs Maine and if they aren't scoring any goals, then well, this is a very average hockey team. Billy Arnold and Steven Whitney continue to play at a high level but with out the help of the other three, goals will be very hard to come by for this squad. One guy that I really hope starts to improve for tomorrow and Monday is Johnny G. We have seen what he can do when he is on but Maine completely shut him down last weekend. He made some good plays here and there but he just hasn't been himself. When he is playing like he was before the break, this is one of the top teams in the country. When he isn't, this is not a great hockey team. Plain and simple.

Tomorrow night's opponent, Vermont, is also in a bit of a slump as they have lost 5 of their last 6 games with the one win coming last Saturday night vs UMass. On the road in Hockey East this season, the Catamounts are 1-3-4 and in the overall standings, they currently sit in 8th place. Up front, UVM is led by senior Chris McCarthy (6-12-18) and sophomore Jacob Fallon (7-9-16). UVM ranks 9th in goals scored per game (2.25) and goals allowed per game (3.12) as freshman goalie Brody Hoffman is last in the league in GAA, giving up an average of 2.96 goals per game. I hope that BC learned their lesson last weekend when Maine came down here and beat them. Any team in Hockey East can beat any other team. BC had two really off nights last weekend and the Black Bears took advantage. That being said, I really hope that the Eagles are able to put together a full 60 minute game tomorrow before the big one on Monday. I think the return of Matheson should help the defense and special teams, the power play especially. In the end it doesn't come down to what UVM does. It comes down to the effort that BC brings to the table and if it is 100 %, then the chances for victory are high. If it isn't, well, you saw what happened last weekend.

Keys for BC-

1. Need to score the first goal. BC plays well when they have a lead. They don't play well from behind. This team isn't built to come from behind. They have got to find a way to get on the scoreboard first tomorrow night.

2. Have to find a way to finish chances. There were so many grade A chances for the Eagles last weekend and they rarely capitalized. That needs to change this weekend.

3. Finish periods strong. I don't know the exact numbers but it appears to me that this team is giving up a lot of late period goals. They gave up two vs Maine last weekend, one vs UMass, and one vs UNH. I'd like to see them finish periods a bit stronger.

Scouting Vermont-

Pairwise Rank- Not Ranked

Hockey East rank- 8th

Leading Scorer- Chris McCarthy

Power Play rank-8th

Penalty kill rank-10th

Best Wins- vs Union, vs Providence

Worst Loss- Penn State

Go Eagles.

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