Saturday, January 4, 2014

Previewing the Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Whether you like it or not, the Boston College Eagles will hit the ice at Fenway Park tomorrow night to take on Notre Dame for the first time in Hockey East action. The Eagles defeated the Irish last November by a 3-1 count @ Conte Forum. Notre Dame will enter tomorrows contest with a 10-7-1 record and currently sit in 8th place in Hockey East. This will be their first game since a 3-2 loss at the hands of UMass on December 7th in South Bend. Like BC, the Irish also had a few guys competing for the World Jr Championship in Sweden. Forwards Thomas DiPauli and Vinny Hinostroza are expected to be back in time for the game.

Let's take all the shenanigans about Fenway and throw it out the window. Tomorrow is a huge game that could propel BC into first place in Hockey East and more importantly, into the top four in the pairwise standings. As of now, Boston College is 5th in the pairwise while Notre Dame sits at 14th. Say what you want about it being too early to discuss the NCAA tournament but in my mind, if you win these types of games that are going to have a huge impact on you in March and April, why not talk about the importance it has ?  

This is a Notre Dame team that is very front heavy with some star forwards such as Mario Lucia, TJ Tynan, and Hinostroza. Compared to ND teams we have seen the past, these guys have more quickness and that could pose a few problems for the Eagles. The Irish's first line throughout much of the season has been Tynan centering Jeff Costello and Bryan Rust. The one matchup I think could present some problems for us is their third line of Lucia, Hinostoza, and Austin Wutchrich. Since BC is the "home" team, they will have last change so I would expect to see the Fitzgerald line up against these guys for the majority of the night. 

On the defensive side of things, expect Scotty Savage to be the odd guy out with McCoshen and Santini returning. I don't know if it's the best decision in the world because I've always been a fan of Scott but I think McCoshen and Santini are probably more ready for the big stage after competing in Sweden. With the harsh conditions, I expect it to be a low scoring affair and the number one job the defensemen will have is to avoid turnovers. This is not going to be a very exciting game to watch. I think BC has got to get away from firing the puck cross ice to create a lot of odd man rushes. Instead, they have to get it over the red line, get pucks deep and force these guys to turn it over. The snow and wind is not going to allow for a crisp ice surface for tape to tape passes. If BC is smart with the way they posses the puck, I think they've got a great shot. 

I know BC has been playing well and all but this is not going to be a beat down. Notre Dame will come to play. I think it's a bit intriguing that they haven't played a game in almost a month but they will come to play. They know this is a big game for their program on a national level and they will do everything they can to bring the victory back to South Bend. 

Keys for BC-

1. Avoid stupid mistakes. Tomorrow has to be all about playing a smart 60 minute hockey game. No dumb penalties, no awful turnovers, and most importantly, get out to a lead and build on it. That is the strength of this club. 

2. Continue to improve on the power play. Last weekend was a huge step in the right direction in terms of the man advantage. The staff was extremely pleased with the way both units looked. It should only improve with McCoshen returning to the point on the first unit. 

3. Get anything and everything to the net. The puck can do really weird things during games like this. Let's just test this goaltender early and often and see if he can make some big time stops. 

Scouting the Irish- 

Pairwise rank- 14th

Record- 10-7-1, 8th in Hockey East 

Best Win- vs Minnesota 

Worst Loss- vs UMass 

Offense- 3.00 goals per game (21st) 

Defense- 2.11 goals allowed per game (11th) 

Power play- 19 % (29th) 

Penalty kill- 84 % (16th) 

Top scorers- TJ Tynan (3-12-15), Vince Hinostroza (3-11-14), Mario Lucia (9-4-13) 


1. Coach Brown, McCoshen, Santini, and Demko will be back and in the lineup tomorrow night. 

2. BC will be wearing new jerseys. I'll have a picture up soon. 

3. 7:35 puck drop. 

4. Brian Billett will be in goal.

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