Monday, February 2, 2015
If you look all throughout the world, you will find dozens of terrific sporting events such as the World Cup, Super Bowl, World Series, FA Cup, Stanley Cup, etc and don't get me wrong, they're all terrific sporting events that attract viewers from all over but let's get one thing clear, there is nothing like the Beanpot. It's the biggest tournament there is. If you win it, you're happy for 365 days. If you lose it, your miserable for 365 days. Before every season starts, no one ask who the #1 team in the country is or who's going to win Hockey East, nope, it's who is going to win the Beanpot? Thankfully, the past five years have been pretty smooth thanks to some unbelievable efforts by a lot of terrific players. Ok, you get the point, I love the Beanpot.
Tomorrow night, the Eagles will have a chance to play for a 6th straight title if they can get past they always pesky Northeastern Huskies, a team BC went 1-0-1 against this year. Surprisingly, BC's win over Northeastern three weeks ago is the only game NU has lost since December 3rd and the Huskies are playing as well as anyone in the country at the moment. NU swept a struggling Notre Dame team two weekends ago but have yet to play a game since then (it will amount to a 9 day layoff for them). I'm not sure whether the pause in play for NU will favor BC at all but it may take the red and black a few minutes to get their legs under them. One thing that the Eagles have done in the past few years in the first round is get off to really good starts, in fact, they haven't trailed after one period in the Beanpot semis since 2009, when they trailed NU 2-1 after one. Since it's the late game, I expect that the building will be packed and which ever team can get the crowd on their side earlier will probably take control of the game.
When we take a look at this NU team, one question mark, as it always seems, is their goaltending. They have been rotating between Derrick Roy and Clay Witt ever since Witt played played both games against BC so it remains a mystery as to who the Huskies will be starting in net. The consensus among the NU fan base seems to be that Witt will start given his Beanpot experience but he really struggled last time out vs the Eagles. With the "lack of experience/talent" in goal for the Huskies, it is absolutely essential for BC to get guys to net. In the finals vs these guys last year, we got a boatload of shots but we didn't get traffic in front of Witt, allowing him to stop almost everything until we finally got some guys to block his view. One thing we did well two weeks ago was cycling the puck down low in their zone. NU's weakness, outside of their suspect goaltending, is their slippery defense. They don't have anyone that can "shut down" an opponent's top line and they often struggle with simple things like breaking the puck out and preventing teams from possessing the puck for a long period of time. I know this is usually a basketball phrase but BC needs to use it's size to it's advantage when it comes to getting bodies to the net and cycling the puck below the goal line. The more we come at these guys with speed and size, the quicker they will ware down. Another thing BC must do is avoid the stupid penalties. If they continue to play the way they have been, there isn't one team that can beat them 5 on 5 but that all changes if BC starts running around trying to take people's heads off. Northeastern always seems to take advantage of our stupidity in this tournament and we never fail to give them their share of power plays. If we take less than three penalties, I would say their is a very small chance of us losing the game.
Anyways, nothing but a tremendous opportunity for these guys here tomorrow night. With all the hype surrounding the other three programs, how awesome would it be to go into this tournament and come away with that trophy once agin. How ironic is it that we get to be the villain in one of Boston's most told tales. Whether you believe it or not, there won't be a lot of people in that building rooting for the maroon and gold tomorrow night. They all want to see a cinderella story in Northeastern, a story of rebirth from Harvard, or the crowning of a so called "wonder boy", but it's this BC team that has the opportunity to go five miles down the road and clinch a spot in a game next Monday night that would undoubtedly be one of, if not the biggest, games in the history of this program.
Record- 10-11-4 (27th in pairwise)
Projected lines- Aston-Reese- Szmatula- Snyderman, Roy-Hedges-McMurtry, Stevens-Stevens-Collier, Sikura-Pond-Jamieson.
Top defenseman- Matt Benning (Bruins draft pick, one of just 4 draft picks on team)
Offense- 2.48 goals per game (40th)
Defense- 2.84 goals allowed per game (39th)
Power play- 20% (18th)....scored one power play goal vs us.
Penalty kill- 74% (56th)
Shots on goal margin- 1.28 (38th)
Penalty minutes- 11.68 minutes per game (27th)
Keys for BC-
1. No stupid penalties. For what ever reason, we have a tendency to take a lot of penalties in this building, especially in the third period when we have a lead. Although BC's penalty kill has been great the last three games, this Northeastern power play is as good as any BC will face all year.
2. Get bodies in front of the net, puck support down low. We have to get these guys on their heels in their own zone and some of our bigger bodies to the front of the net. The more traffic, the less Witt (or Roy) will be able to track down the puck. Don't give these guys anything in their own zone, pressure, pressure, pressure.
3. Use the last change to our advantage. I think the staff will try and put Sit's line out there vs Roy early on and see how it works. With the TV timeouts, expect the staff to roll three lines for much of the game. I don't think the fourth line got any shifts in the third period on Friday.
Notes- Silk is out, Linell is doubtful.
Go Eagles and Go Crimson !!!