Wednesday, April 6, 2016
Rand Pecknold's team is coming off an impressive 4-1 win over UMass-Lowell in the East regional final. In the first round, QU used a big third period to skate by RIT. I've watched Lowell five or six times this season and not once did I see them get outplayed like that. Put it simply, QU dominated the final fifty minutes of the game after Lowell got on the board with an early power play goal. It's one thing to score four goals on a team like Lowell, but it's another to keep the puck away from them like the Bobcats did. As was the case with Minnesota Duluth, Quinnipiac is one of the top possession squads in the country, with a 57% corsi for rating, good for fifth nationally. They're fast, deep, and skilled- I mean, you don't lose three games all season by being a flash in the bottle. Although typically listed as the fourth line, the trio of Sam Anas, Tanner MacMaster (a former BC commit), and Craig Martin will pose a dangerous threat to BC's defense. The difference between this team and almost everyone else BC has faced this season is their depth, both up front and on the back end. Ten Bobcat players have recorded 20 or more points, which is slightly behind BC's eleven. Interestingly enough, despite their tremendous record, Pecknold's club boast just two NHL draft picks- defensemen Connor Clifton and Devin Toews. They aren't a "big" team on the defensive side of the puck, but they have a bunch of guys that love to use their speed in order to get up ice and create plays. Clifton and Toews have notched 26 and 30 points, respectively. I don't care what league you play in, producing at that level as a defensemen is outstanding.
The one aspect of their game that jumped out to me while watching QU two weeks ago was their speed. They will be, without a doubt, the fastest team BC plays all season- they made some of Lowell's defensemen look like traffic cones in the defensive zone. The Eagles put an emphasis on their own end for the majority of practices over the past week because they want to avoid those periods where the Bobcats sustain pressure for a minute and a half or longer. Against Duluth, especially early in the second and late in the third, BC was running around their end for large chunks of time and if it weren't for Demko, things may have gone differently. That being said, I don't expect the Eagles to possess the puck more than Quinnipiac- BC is a team that uses it's speed through the neutral zone to strike at any moment while QU wears you out with their puck control. BC can't let Quinnipiac move it around in the offensive zone before firing at will on Demko. They need to keep the puck to the outside, clear it on the wall (this was a problem at times vs UMD), and create odd man rushes. It will be tough for the staff to get the guys they want out there without last change but I expect McCoshen and Casey Fitzgerald to get the majority of shifts versus QU's top line. Sam Anas was hurt three weeks ago against Harvard but he looked more than fine against Lowell. The two weeks off should only help.
The one lineup note to look out for is whether or not Matthew Gaudreau is in. They will keep the same top three units but expect Gaudreau to be fourth line left wing. As always, things could change between now and 5 o'clock tomorrow.
Coach York alluded to this today in his presser- you're never going to be able to play a perfect game in these type of situations because the opponent, no matter the name on the front of the jersey, is a formidable foe. I expect this to be a fantastic hockey between two teams that are more than deserving to be the National Champion come Saturday night.
Record- 31-3-7....only losses were to St. Lawrence, Boston University, and Cornell.
Leading scorers- Sam Anas (24-26-50), Travis St. Denis (22-24-46), Tim Clifton (18-22-40)
Team offense- 3.88 goals scored per game (4th)
Team defense- 1.90 goals against per game (5th)
Power play- 28% (4th)
Penalty kill- 89% (3rd)
Shots on goal per game- 34.88 (4th)
Shots on goal against per game- 24.90 (2nd)
Projected starter- Michael Garteig (1.83 GAA, .926 save percentage)
Keys for BC-
1. Strong play in the defensive zone. Quinnipiac's speed may give the Eagles fits at times but if they're disciplined and able to make plays through the neutral zone, they've got a great chance to win.
2. Get off to a good start. Like every other team in the Frozen Four, Quinnipiac is undefeated (26-0-2) when leading after two periods.
3. Penalties. Both teams are lethal on the man advantage, whomever has the majority of power plays will likely come out on top.
Notes- I expect Gaudreau to be in.
Off to Tampa in the morning. Go Eagles.