Thursday, January 29, 2015

Providence Preview

With the biggest athletic event in the entire world looming on Monday night, the Eagles will have to keep the focus on Hockey East tomorrow as a hot Providence team comes to town. The Friars are coming off an impressive home and home sweep of Lowell, a series in which they outscored the River Hawks by a 11-4 margin. It's amazing that even though they're not known as a high scoring team and UML rarely gives up a large amount of goals, the Friars were still able to post that kind of number. However, despite the success last weekend, Providence entered the Lowell series having lost a pair of games to Brown (at home) and UNH, two teams that won't necessarily be gunning for the NCAA title any time soon. I think, like BC, this Friar squad is one that can be really good on some nights and not so good on others. I mean, they totally dominated a Lowell team that is as good as anyone I've seen all year but they somehow lost to a Brown squad that is as bad as anyone I've seen all year. Obviously, these guys handed us a crushing loss in November, a 1-0 battle in which BC recorded 43 shots on PC's star goalie, Jon Gilles, a guy that is certainly the MVP of their squad.

As for the Eagles, this is certainly the definition of the worst trap game ever. Not only is Providence right behind us in the Hockey East standings with two games in hand, they're four spots above us (9th) in the latest pairwise rankings. In reality, BC could probably move up two or three spots if all things played out their way, but it certainly won't be easy coming vs a team that is big and physical. If you remember back to last year, BC suffered injuries to Ian McCoshen and Kevin Hayes just four days before the Beanpot when the Eagles defeated Providence on the road, 1-0. If there is any team I don't want to see three days before the biggest event of the year, it's Providence because they're big, they're nasty, and they are at times, dirty. Other than Gilles, Nate Leaman doesn't have one "superstar" although he does have a first round draft pick in junior Mark Jankowski, someone that has, according to those who watch PC, underperformed in his first 2.5 seasons in Friartown. PC, unlike the Eagles, has four pretty strong lines as opposed to two top lines. Their first unit will likely feature Nick Saracino, Noel Acciari (reigning Hockey East player of the week), and Brandon Tanev. The problem for BC will be who they want to match up with that line and who they want to matchup with their equally as powerful second line which features Jankowski and leading scorer Trevor Mingoia. Amazingly, BC's leading scorer, Adam Gilmour, is a 21 year old sophomore while Providence's leading scorer, Mingoia, is 23 year old junior. Insane.

Anyways, it would be a miracle if BC could win the game tomorrow and come out with no injuries but don't get me wrong, everyone's focus is on what they have to do in order to win this game. I don't think Providence, a team that only scores 2.76 goals per game, is one that BC should have a handful of problems with in their own end, if they avoid turning the puck over. In fact, the only goal the Eagles gave up to these guys in the first meeting was due to a horrific offensive zone turnover. The strengths of PC's team lie, of course, in the net and at the blue line. They have some big but mobile defensemen like Parisi, Gilmour, Walman, and Florentino, all guys that can get up the ice quickly.

Scouting Providence- 

Record- 16-8-1 (9th in pairwise)

Goals per game- 2.76 (27th)

Goals against per game- 2.04 (6th)

Power play- 15 % (37th)

Penalty kill- 86 % (17th)

Shots on goal per game- 32.24 (14th)

Penalty minutes per game- 11.24 (33rd)

Keys for BC- 

1. Don't let bad mistakes lead to their offense. To be honest, BC gives up more goals to teams because of their own miscues than they do because the opponent makes good plays. Whether it's a stupid penalty, turnover, or blown coverage, the Eagles tend to let opponents capitalize on their errors.

2. Get guys to the net. When Gilles sees the puck, he's going to make the save, 99% of the time. When we actually get guys to the net and screen him, his life will be a lot tougher.

3. Don't get caught up in a brawl. Providence likes to try and take the game to a whole other level in terms of physicality. BC can't afford to do that because #1, they'll get stupid penalties and #2, they will risk an injury.

Injury report- Linell won't play...hurt last Saturday. Silk back.

Go Eagles

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