Thursday, March 13, 2014

Previewing the Notre Dame Fighting Irish

No team has had more success in the Hockey East tournament than the Boston College Eagles have enjoyed since the league's inception in 1984, BC has taken home 11 tournament titles, more than any other school. This year, a new but familiar foe entered the battlefield in the form of ancient rival Notre Dame. In fact, the Irish accomplished what no other Hockey East team has done all season just a couple weeks ago, they defeated BC @ Kelley Rink. Actually, Notre Dame has been quiet successful @ Conte Forum, going 8-8-1 all time on the road vs BC. I don't think you would find one college hockey pundit out there that believes this will be an easy series win for the #1 seed. This is not your ordinary eight seed, I'd venture to say they're certainly a top ten club in the country, not just the league. I expect this to be one heck of a series. 

Like I said last night, it's a game of two totally different playing styles. One team is going to try and speed up the pace while the other is going to try and slow it down. The faster the game goes by, the better the chance BC has of winning. We say this all the time but in the playoffs, your best players really have to be on top of their games. Why do we remember Nathan Gerbe and Brian Gionta so much ? Not because of the way they played in regular games vs Lowell or Merrimack, but because of the way they played in the NCAA's and Beanpot vs BU. This weekend is a chance for Johnny G, Kevin Hayes, and Billy Arnold to show the country why they're the three best forwards the nation has to offer. If you can make plays and score goals on this team, you can score on just about anyone. 

When we played these guys two weeks ago, I thought the biggest matchup problem for us was their second line vs our second line. BC's at it's best when they have two lines that continue to pressure the puck and generate chances in the offensive end. Two Saturday's ago, that didn't happen. Not only did the second line not generate much, the big three were held in check for pretty much the entire game with the exception of G's ridiculous goal. ND is a great defensive team that is led by their All-American candidate goaltender, Steven Summerhayes. We're not going to score "garbage" goals on this guy. The team that works harder to generate odd man rushes in the neutral zone will be the one that gets the quality scoring chances, and thus, will probably win the game. 

All in all, this is going to be a heck of a series between two teams that have legitimate shots at a National title. In terms of lineup changes, the staff wants to try and get the quickest possible lineup out there which means Danny Linell will be playing on a line with Quinn Smith and Mike Sit while Destry Straight will be benched. Isaac Macleod was out of practice this past Sunday but he has returned and will be a full go tomorrow. 

Scouting Notre Dame- 

Pairwise- 9th (21-12-2) 

Leading scorers- TJ Tynan (8-25-33), Mario Lucia (15-13-28), Vince Hinostroza (7-21-28)

All time series- BC leads 18-14-2

Team offense- 2.97 goals scored per game (24th)

Team defense- 2.00 goals allowed per game (4th)

Power play- 18 % (28th)

Penalty kill- 86.5 % (7th)

Penalty minutes- 11.80 per game (36th) 

Keys for BC- 

1. Making the game up-tempo. This involves a lot of aspects, check out last nights post for a full run down

2. Winning the first period. Notre Dame is 2-8-1 when trailing after the first twenty minutes. When ND gives up the first goal, they're 3-9-1

3. Gotta capitalize on the PP. This may be the tipping point in the series. Whatever power play is better may the difference between who plays next week and who doesn't. 

Go Eagles !!

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