Sunday, February 24, 2013

Preview the Merrimack College Warriors

Tonight, the #4 Boston College Eagles will travel up to North Andover to face a red hot Merrimack team in a game that will go a long way in deciding where BC will be placed in the NCAA tournament. Last weekend, the Eagles fell in overtime to a Warrior team that was rewarded with 9 power plays, including one in the overtime that eventually resulted in the game winning tally. That's  going to be the biggest key for BC tonight. Just stay out of the box. They're a better team than a lot of teams in the country when it comes to 5 on 5 hockey. The problem is they take way too many penalties. I've been saying this for a long time and to be honest, the penalties cost BC three or four points last weekend. They have got to find a way to stay out of the box. Now, besides the penalties, I thought BC played rather well vs the Warriors last Friday night, especially in their own end. If that continues and the Eagles can score like they did vs a fantastic UNH team last Sunday, then they should be able to pick up a win tonight. One thing BC did in both games last weekend that have not done all year was lose (or tie) a game after scoring the first goal. The Eagles are 13-1-3 this season when they are able to score the first goal. It is extremely important that they are able to score the first goal in this game. As you probably know by now, Parker Milner really struggled last weekend vs UNH. Actually, it was the first bad game he has played in quite some time so I'm not really that worried. I can tell you though that he has worked extra hard this weekend to tune up his game, so expect him to be ready to go.

As for Merrimack, they currently sit in first place in Hockey East (tied with Providence) and are 5-1-1 in their last 7 games. What Merrimack does real well is that they play their style of hockey. Last weekend, BC couldn't really get anything going on the offensive end because Merrimack dictated the style of play the game was played at. To change that, BC is going to have to get out in the open ice and skate. That's where they're at their best, not when they're playing a dump and chase defensive style of hockey that Merrimack likes to play. Unfortunately, BC will once again be without Kevin Hayes who continues to serve his suspension for an off ice issue. Look for guys like Quinn Smith and Destry Straight to get more playing time in his absence.

The bottom line is that this is a huge game. A BC win would put them back into a #1 spot in the NCAA tournament while a loss would put them back a couple of spots. A win would also go a long way in helping BC clinch home ice in the Hockey East playoffs. The Eagles are currently holding on to the fourth spot in the league but they have two games in hand on everybody else and a win would put them back in the #1 spot. Yea, this is a big one. Let's hope the guys are ready to go and are able to pick up a big road win up in North Andover.

Keys for the Eagles-

1. Staying out of the penalty box. It killed this team last weekend. They lost and tied because of the penalties. Maybe a reversal of fortunate could help the visiting team this time.

2. Scoring early. Merrimack doesn't score a lot of goal but they don't give up a ton either. Getting out to a quick one or two goal lead is crucial.

3. Not letting Merrimack have sustained pressure in the BC end. I thought there were too many times last weekend in which BC allowed Merrimack or UNH to posses the puck in their end for a long period of time. Let's see if that changes tonight.

Note- The game is on CBS College Sports. Puck drop is @ 4.

GO Eagles !

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