With one fourth of the season already past us, I think the best thing this club can do is take what they can from it and try to play one game at a time from here on out. These first 9 games have taught us a few things but mainly it has showed our lack of depth, it's highlighted the power play and penalty kill struggles, but most notably, it exposed this team's lack of depth and speed. I'm not trying to sound like the Devil's advocate here because I know there is a way this team can win games but it is going to involve a totally different style of hockey than what we are used to. For this first quarter, I think the staff thought they could "push" these guys into the previous system and obviously, it hasn't worked. That's not their fault at all, there is a system that has been in place here since the early 2000's and it' been highly effective throughout the years. Unfortunately, the personnel on this club isn't built to play that high octane, north/south style. I do however, think this team can be successful if they do the following things.
1. They have to change up the power play both systematically and player wise. We've always had three forwards low and two defenseman high and it's obviously worked well for a long time because we had forwards that could make plays like no one else in the country could. Things are different this year. We need to use our mobile defenseman in an umbrella formation that basically allows a right shot at his one-time position (Tuch), a guy with a powerful shot at the top (McCoshen), and a left handed one time guy in his one time spot (Hanifin). Too often, there are three left handed shots at the top of umbrella, when they do go into that formation. That won't lead to goals. I think the two units should be #1- Fitzgerald, Gilmour, Tuch, Hanifin, and McCoshen. #2- Sanford, Cangelosi (he has struggled), Spiro, Matheson, and Doherty.
2. They have to get more aggressive on the penalty kill. If you look at the tape of Harvard's first power play goal, you'll notice that Kerfoot had all day to walk in and fire a wrist shot top shelf. That should never have happened. BC is trying to pack the zone and block shots instead of jumping out to the perimeter and forcing the defenseman to make quick decisions with the puck. We need to start attacking our opponents like they attack us. The more aggressive team won on Tuesday, it won on Friday, and it won on opening night.
3. They have to start rolling three lines at important junctures. For some reason, they had the Cangelosi line out against Harvard's top guns, all NHL draft picks and it resulted in a 10 point night for Vesey, Kerfoot, and Crisculio. It should be Calnan's line against the other team's top line with McCoshen and Hanifin, every time. In the third period of close games, just roll three lines as much as you can. It sounds stupid but the more the "higher end" guys are out there, the better chances we have of scoring goals but those higher end guys have to start playing like "high end" guys or the staff will have nothing to work with.
4. I expect BC to have a very passive forecheck tomorrow night @ MSU because I know for a fact they're looking to change up their style of play after these past four games. We shall see how it works but it's not going to do anything if guys get lazy in the neutral zone and forget where their man is. It's all about match ups, in my opinion. I will be interested to see how they approach the forecheck tomorrow night.
I am not out in East Lansing but I'll certainly be keeping track from Chestnut Hill. Let's pray they get a win tomorrow. They need it....badly.