Sunday, February 10, 2013

Previewing the Northeastern Huskies

Tomorrow night, the Boston College Eagles will look to capture Beanpot #18 versus cross town rival, Northeastern, a team they have beaten twice already this season. This will be the first championship appearance for Northeastern under second year head coach Jim Madigan as they got clobbered by Boston College last season in the first round by a score of 7-1. The Huskies have had a little bit of a rough go of it this season but they changed all that with a thrilling 3-2 victory over Boston University last Monday. The Huskies and the Eagles met nearly three weeks ago on Huntington Ave, a game in which BC needed to win to keep their season from getting out of hand. BC didn't just win that game. They absolutely dismantled the Huskies by a 9-3 count, the most goals BC has scored in over a year. In the other two meetings this season, Northeastern defeated BC on opening night by a 3-1 margin before the defending champs responded with a solid 3-0 victory on Banner Night a week later. Honestly, I don't think the staff will have the players watch too much tape this week because we know them very well and they know us very well. One piece that BC didn't have in it's latest win over NU was start defenseman Mike Matheson who didn't make it past the one minute mark of the first period of that game @ Matthews Arena. As you've seen in the two games since his return, #5 makes a huge difference on both sides of the puck. Like I said yesterday, I expect that him and Isaac Macleod will be paired together to face the powerful line of Kevin Roy-Garret Vermeersch-Vinny Saponari.

As for that big line of Roy, Saponari, and Vermeersch, it's basically the Huskies' three best offensive players bunched into one line. Yes, they have two other lines that score at times but tomorrow they will be tested vs perhaps the top two lines in the country. They played well vs BU's big line because that line is very similar to them. They're talented but their not necessarily quick. Well, not BC quick. Obviously, the big matchup will be to see how our big lines matchup vs their big three. If you watched NU's game vs BU, you saw how dominant Kevin Roy can be when he's got time and space. However, in the last two games vs BC he has been a complete non-factor and his plus minus overall against the Eagles is currently at -2. If you're the Eagles defense, you've just got to find a way to keep him away from the net and be sure to not give him space inside the blue line. As for the other matchups up front, I think BC matches pretty well. The Eagles have two really strong scoring lines that can score at any time and they've got a third line that is starting to play like a BC third line normally does. They get pucks deep, they battle hard, and they're starting to score goals. I look for a big night from the Quinn Smith, Pat Brown, and Brooks Dyroff combination.

If you read my post last night, you'd notice that I kept mentioning how BC needs to attack this Northeastern D. That's basically what's going to be what decides this game for the Eagles. Every time a puck goes into the NU corner and is up for grabs, I look for the Eagles to put a ton of pressure on. Don't give these guys a free pass out of their zone. Send one guy in hard with a trailer and leave someone stranded just outside the faceoff circle. The point is that BC needs to put Northeastern in a position where they don't know what to do with the puck. The Huskies turned it over numerous times three weeks ago vs BC's speedy attack. Hopefully, that continues tomorrow.

Whatever happens tomorrow night, I'm sure it's going to be another classic Beanpot final. Does BC have the advantage ? Yup, but never underestimate what a team can do when the Beanpot rolls around. Northeastern is going to play this game like it's their National Championship. They're going to come out flying in every phase of the game. For BC, they've just got to find a way to control that, much like they did vs Harvard, and once it settles down, take the game over. If the Eagles can do those things, I think you'll see a lot of happy maroon and gold clad people walking out The Garden tomorrow night.

Keys for the Eagles

1. Avoid giving Roy time and space. Keep someone on him and make sure he doesn't sneak by the defenseman.

2. Get shots on Chris Rawlings. If NU is going to have a chance, Rawlings is going to need to play out of his mind. That doesn't happen often. Shots, shots, shots.

3. Win the battle of the special teams. In games like these, power plays and penalty kills are huge. I thought BC moved it around real well vs Harvard. Power plays are huge momentum swingers when they're capitalized on.

Best Opposing line- Roy-Vermeersch-Saponari

Scouting the Huskies-

Pairwise rank- N/R

Hockey East Standings- 10th

Leading scorer- Kevin Roy (15-15-30)

All time series- Boston College is 157-47-14 all time vs NU and is 30-8 all time vs NU in the Beanpot.

Injury Notes- Colin Sullivan is IN.

Go Eagles.

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