Last night, Boston College didn't just lose to UMass-Lowell 4-2, they lost star forward Kevin Hayes for the remainder of the season due to a leg injury suffered in the second period. Hayes was immediately rushed to St. Elizabeth's hospital to undergo major surgery, which ended up being successful (thankfully). Obviously, this one is going to sting. I thought Kevin played really well through the first 40 minutes last night and it was clear that BC was a better team with him on the ice. Without him, every game from here on in is going to be a grind.
I'll get into some Lowell recap stuff later but right now, I think it's more important to look at the state of this team. I said last night that I wasn't worried at all because Lowell is a really good team and BC wasn't 100 %. Then I found out about Hayes' injury. It's really going to hurt this hockey team because they're already very thin on the offensive end. BC's third line of Pat Brown, Brooks Dyroff, and Quinn Smith, which had been playing really well as of late, struggled big time last night. Yes, Lowell is a very deep hockey team but BC can only get so far with their first two lines.
Remember the 2008 team that came into the Hockey East tournament as a team that was pretty good, but certainly didn't appear to be a National Championship team ? Well, this team is as close to that as you're going to get. Are my saying this team is going to win a championship ? No, because they just are not deep enough to win games when a guy like Johnny G is off. How did the 2008 team win everything you may ask ? Two words. Nathan Gerbe. How is this team going to win anything this season ? Two words. Johnny Gaudreau. Yea, this team has talent around him that can really play but to be honest, this team goes as Johnny G goes. When he is on, this is a team that can win any game it wants to. When he isn't, then it's going to be really hard to win games.
That being said, I always say that every weekend is big in this league and while that may be true, none is bigger than this upcoming weekend for the Eagles. In fact, I'd dub Friday's game as the biggest game of the season for the Eagles. They need 4 points this weekend. If they can win @ Merrimack and compete with that Lowell team for 17 minutes in the third period without Hayes, then they can beat this Providence team (who will also be without it's third leading scorer Shane Luke and maybe defenseman Myles Harvey).
My thought on this team is this: They have just got to find a way to make it to the NCAA tournament as a 1,2, or 3 seed in Providence or Manchester because from there anything can happen. I look at this weekend as a huge opportunity for this team. Two wins, astonishingly, gets them right back in the hunt for a Number 1 seed with just one week left in the regular season. If you ask me, I'd much rather be a 1 seed playing a team like Notre Dame or Niagara in the East than be a 3 seed and play a team like Denver in the first round.
Look, the bottom line is that BC needs two wins this weekend. I can't say it enough. Two W's basically clinches an NCAA berth for the Eagles, no matter what happens over the course of the next two/three weeks. They've got to find a way to do it.