Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Merrimack Preview

There are games you probably should win, there are games you probably have no business winning, there are games that could either way, and then there are games that you absolutely 100% have to find a way to win. Tomorrow is one of those must wins for the Eagles. If BC had lost to BU, Sunday would have been a must win but to be perfectly honest, coming out of that brutal scheduling quirk 1-1 isn't that bad, IF they can beat Merrimack at home tomorrow night. I've always been under the belief that BC should never, ever lose a Hockey East game at home, perhaps sans BU because they always play well here but anyone else, not good. It's been seventeen years since Merrimack last won a game at Kelley Rink, Halloween 1997 to be exact. Amazingly, perhaps none of the 20 plus trips the Warriors have made here since that game will be as important as tomorrow with MC sitting at 13th in the pairwise and BC sitting at 19th. A win would bump the Eagles up to 18, a loss would knock them down to 20th.

Merrimack comes into Chestnut Hill fresh off a home and home sweep of #20 Quinnipiac and is in the midst of winning three out of their past four games, that streak includes an extremely impressive 3-2 victory @ Minnesota on January 2nd. Whatever you want to say about the way Merrimack plays or the age of their players, the bottom line is they are playing as well as anyone in the country and you have to give them credit. Interestingly enough, this was supposed the be a real down year for the blue and gold as they were projected to finish 10th by the Hockey East coaches but as of today, they're sitting in 9th with three or four games in hand over everyone else in the league. Leading the way for MC has been freshman Brett Seney, sophomore Hampus Gustafsson, and junior Brian Christie, the only three Warrior forwards that have recorded more than 10 points thus far. As is usually the case with Merrimack, they live and die off their defense as they rank 4th in the country with just 1.95 goals given up per game. On the offensive side of things, the Warriors tend to struggle a bit as they average just 2.62 goals per game, good for 36th in the country.

Not much I can say other than this is a must win for BC, no ways around it, the Eagles have to find a way to win this game. Let's assume Merrimack continues to play well the rest of the way and is right around the bubble come tournament time, probably the same spot BC will be in, wouldn't it help if the Eagles took at least 3 of 4 points from those guys? Obviously. Expect sophomore Austin Cangelosi to return to the lineup after sitting out Sunday's contest at Maine. I don't know what others think but I like the way Austin has been playing lately and even if he isn't playing his very best at times, his speed adds an element to that second line that I think scares opponents. I watched the BU tape and I really didn't see anything he did that was absolutely horrible but I'm certainly no expert. Hopefully he gets back to playing at a high level tomorrow because BC will need it.

Scouting Merrimack-

Record- 13-6-2 (13th in PWR)

Leading scorers- Brett Seney (10-11-21), Hampus Gustafsson (6-11-17), Brian Christie (9-7-16)

Team offense- 2.62 goals per game (36th)

Team defense- 1.95 goals allowed per game (4th)

Power play- 16 % (34th)

Penalty kill- 90% (4th)

Shot on goal margin per game- + 1.09 (31st)

Penalty minutes- 11.32 minutes per game (32nd)

Keys for BC- 

1. They have to win. No keys, just win. They have to.

Go Eagles

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