We all got our first look at the 2014-15 version of the Eagles last night as they opened the season on a high, defeating a strong New Brunswick team 6-4. Like I said yesterday, there really isn't much you can take away from these games but there were certainly some bright spots along with a lot of areas for improvement. Here are the the top five things I took away.
1. Cam Spiro might be a diamond in the rough. There are a lot of people out there on Twitter that have always been messaging me about why the staff doesn't give him more playing time but I think that is going to change this year. He was BC's best bottom six forward last night but his line mates, Danny Linell and Matty Gaudreau, weren't too bad either. Not many teams in Hockey East have a fourth line that consist of three high quality skaters so hopefully they can build off this performance.
2. Tuch was sensational. He isn't one of those guys that's going to jump out at you right off the bat but he just seems like he's a solid all around player with a lot of size and skill. He scored his first goal by setting himself in front of the net on a power play before taking a nice feed from Adam Gilmour, which he was able to bang home after a nice move. His second goal was an absolute rocket of a shot, one of his many intangibles. He can play down low and up high (because of shot) on the power play which is something the staff could experiment with in the near future.
3. Penalty kill wasn't great. I'm not really a huge fan of giving opposing team's defensemen all day to look around and make a play with the puck while on the man advantage. I've always felt that if they're constantly being bugged, then the chances of a turnover are much higher. It seems like BC wants to pack it in between the dots. Obviously we lost our two best killers last season in Pat Brown and Billy Arnold but guys like Linell, Smith, Sit, Spiro, Fitzgerald, and Cangelosi should be able to compliment the defense.
4. Defense had a couple of sloppy mistakes. New Brunswick's first goal, a power play tally, was a total defensive breakdown as no one covered the guy flying in from the far side. Their second goal was a breakaway late in the middle stanza during a BC power play. That should never happen. BC looked a bit out of sorts for a large portion of the game and a lot of that has to do with the fact that they haven't practiced much and some guys are adjusting to new positions. The backbone of this team is going to have to be their defense and their goaltending. The goaltending was fine last night, the defense at times, was not.
5. They didn't play Hanifin much. After the second UNB goal, for which Noah was out there for (not sure it was totally his fault, would have to see tape) it seems the staff played Travis Jeke a lot more than Noah. Make no mistake, #7 is going to be on the ice Friday night vs Lowell but I'm thinking that the staff is going to ride the hot guys this season, especially on defense. When your deep on the blue line, such as BC is, you have the ability to play some guys a lot more and some guys a lot less.
Top four BC players- Spiro, Matheson, Tuch, Barone, Gilmour