Thursday, February 19, 2015

Lowell Preview

Tomorrow night will commence the most important stretch of the season for the maroon and gold as they will kick off a campaign that will likely make or break their NCAA tournament chances when the UMass Lowell River Hawks come to town. As you probably know, UML defeated BC in the first game of the season @ Tsongas Center by a 3-1 score but ever since Christmas, Norm Bazin's team has been in a bit of a slump. After defeating Merrimack in the finals of the Mariucci Classic on January 3rd, the Hawks are just 3-7-1, a record that currently has them on the wrong side of the NCAA tournament bubble. However, while they may be struggling as of late, Lowell is coming off a 7-1 victory over arch rival UMass on Saturday night, a win that kept them in the conversation for one of the four Hockey East home ice spots.

I did a little bit of math and by my calculations, if BC wins 3 of it's final 4 regular season games and avoids a disaster in the first round (meaning a sweep), they should be on their way to a 6th straight NCAA tournament appearance but a loss tomorrow night would most likely drop them back down to 13th while a win could move them up as high as 9th. Everyone always talks about how we need team X and team Y to lose but if we take care of our own business, we will without a doubt have a chance to compete for a National Title. Another big aspect of tomorrow's game is the race for one of the top four spots in Hockey East. As it stands now, BC, Providence, Notre Dame, Lowell, and Northeastern are all realistically in the hunt for three of the four available spots (BU is pretty much set in stone to be a top 4 team).  Not only would that mean a home ice playoff series but the Eagles would have two full weeks to rest up and get prepared for the upcoming stretch run. We all know how banged up they are and a win tomorrow night would go a long way in cementing a lot of important scenarios for the them.

As I said earlier, Lowell comes into this game in a bit of rough stretch but they're only three spots out of the NCAA tournament so obviously they know how much their  hopes rest on this game. I would tell you that I think it's probably going to be another one of those defensive style contest but I also thought last Saturday would be to and look how that turned out. In order to win, BC has to do a couple things a lot better than they did a week ago. First of all, they're going to need their best player to be their best player. Demko certainly wasn't at his best vs the Catamounts but you can certainly attribute a lot of that to BC's poor defensive zone play. Too often, our defensemen are forgetting to pick up their assignments and are getting beat to the net (i.e. UVM's OT goal). They wouldn't have to be running around like a bunch of chickens with their heads cut off if they did a better job of getting the puck out of the zone and avoiding turnovers. I've said this all year and I'll say it again, 90% of the goals that this team gives up are because they shoot themselves in the foot with either a stupid turnover or ill advised penalty. Hopefully they can shore those things up for tomorrow.

Scouting Lowell- 

Record- 17-10-4 (18th in pairwise)

Leading scorers- CJ Smith (freshman 13-17-30), Evan Campbell (9-13-22), Joe Gambardella (8-14-22)

Top line- Smith- Gambardella- Edwardh

Team offense- 3.42 goals scored per game (8th)

Team defense- 2.65 goals allowed per game (35th)

Power play- 19.5% (21st)

Penalty kill- 78.3% (47th)

Goalie- Kevin Boyle 91.3 save percentage (47th)....he may not start but that is who I would bet on.

Keys for BC- 

1. The weaknesses of this Lowell team are exactly what their strengths were a year ago. They are not real deep on the blue line, struggle on the penalty kill, and have been horrible in goal so far. Take advantage.

2. BC goes where Demko/first line goes. When those four guys are on, BC can beat anybody. When they are not playing as well, BC is in danger of losing. I'd like to see Gilmour have a big night.

3. Stay. Out. Of. The. Box.

Notes- Silk and Linell didn't practice this week so both are highly doubtful. Doherty playing forward.

Go Eagles

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