Coaches and players hit the ice today for the first time @ Kelly Rink and a new season of Eagle Hockey is set to begin. This year, perhaps more so than other in the past five years, is full of question marks, especially up front. The Eagles return star goaltender Thatcher Demko as well as the nation's best D core but with the loss of the big three plus the last minute ditch by he who shall not be named, the forward depth is average at best.
I'll do more previews and stuff as the season gets even closer but I kind of like the fact that there are so many unknowns. Everyone looks at that as a bad thing but why not give guys like Tuch, Sanford, and Calnan a chance to step up and play big time minutes? A summer full of training plus more experience plus more playing time with higher quality players plus an "average" Hockey East could make for a nice jump in points for some guys. The bottom line is that certain guys, especially Calnan, Gilmour (not as much), and Spiro will need to step up and play consistently solid hockey.
Here are some questions.
1. Final forward spots. Like I said, we are not very deep this season but our talent level on the front end ranks in the top three of the league along with BU and Providence. I'm not going to get into positions now because the staff still has to try and figure out what guys are going to move and so fourth so bear with me.
Locks- Tuch, Sanford, Gilmour, Calnan, Cangelosi, Fitzgerald, Linell, Smith, Silk, Gaudreau
Bubble- Straight, Spiro, McMullen
This year, more than any other, I expect the staff to constantly roll three lines, especially when we play teams like Minnesota, Denver, and Providence.
2. First power play unit. Fitzgerald, Gilmour, and Cangelosi will be the first forward unit, to start. Matheson will be on one point but the question is who will be on the other. They have two good options, Scotty Savage and Noah Hanifin. I think they will start with Savage on the first unit meaning the second unit will be Tuch, Sanford, Calnan, Hanifin, and McCoshen. Not bad.
3. Who will be first line right wing, Calnan or Cangelosi? Of the top six forwards, all of whom could be moved to any position, I would think they will have to put both of these guys at right wing because I don't think either could play center very well. Cangelosi could probably adjust on the fly but they like Calnan's play on the boards. Hopefully he improves his skating and produces. Cangelosi first line, Calnan second....to start.
4. Out of Smith, Sit, Spiro, Linell, Straight, and Silk, who will get the most playing time? Because of the lack of depth, one (maybe two) of these guys is going to have to play a lot more minutes than he did last season. I really liked the way Silk progressed in his sophomore year but he's not the most skilled guy on the ice. Personally, I've always been a big fan of Cam Spiro, he had like 30 goals in his senior season @ Tabor and he has manifested his speed and skill during practice and the few games he's had a chance to play in.
5. How much will the style of play change this year? Not really a position question but I think the staff is going to change the way this team plays hockey. A year from now, we will be stacked and play that open, fast paced, north/south style we love to play. This year, I think it's going to be more defensive, a little bit more passive forecheck, and much less goals/shot totals. As long as they win, I could care less if they score one goal and then throw the puck around the rest of the game. Whatever gets more goals on the board than the opponent.
Ryan Shea committed to Northeastern yesterday. Would have been nice to see him go to BC but really wasn't going to work out, unfortunately. Anyways, that's all on the recruiting front.