Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Monday Thoughts: A Step Below

Players of the week
Wade Megan and Ahti Oksanen
Megan posted three points
(1g, 2a) vs Merrimack. Oksanen
also scored against MC and
played his best defensive game
of the year against BC.
(Photo by Matt Dresens)
I'm looking at this loss to Boston College like the Patriots loss to the St. Louis Rams in the regular season back in 2001. The Pats put together a strong effort and almost knocked off (at that time) the best team in the league. The game did more than preview the Super Bowl a few months down the line, it showed that the Patriots could hang with the team at the top.

Fast-forward to Sunday night's BU loss to BC and I feel the same way. BU played very well, but BC's second goal was the back breaker. Now, the rest of this comparison is still yet to be determined as BU and BC will square off on the last day of the month. I think we all know how the Pats fared against the Rams the second time around... Hopefully BU can do the same.

Special Teams
BU's power play may have been the reason they did not win the BC game. Then again, their penalty kill kept them in it. Lets start with upside. BU killed off all six of BC's power plays including 1:38 of five on three. BC came into the weekend with the Nation's best power play. Notre Dame and BU combined to shut out the Eagles on the man advantage over the course of BC's two game weekend.

Now to the power play. BU had a number of power plays in the first period that would have tied the game at 1-1 and failed to convert on any of them. Finally, in the final two minutes, BU did something they needed to do all night: make quick passes to break up the aggressive BC pk. Two slick passes from Matt Nieto and Ahti Oksanen set up Alexx Privitera with an open shot that he scored on.

Matt O'Connor 
O'Connor kicks away a shot on a
Merrimack power play Friday night
(Photo by Matt Dresens)
Week in and week out, OC has stood tall in the BU net. This weekend was no different. Over the course of two games, O'Connor stopped 54 of 58 shots he faced. He was one of the main reasons BU was able to kill off all the BC power plays. You know what they say "your goalie is your best penalty killer".  O'Connor suffered his first loss Sunday night, but still boasts very impressive stats. In five games, he has a .931 save percentage with a 2.04 goals against average and an .800 win percentage. I know it's only six games, but it sure does look like this team has a strong goalie.

At The Polls
BU remained at the 11 slot in the USCHO poll. Boston College was a unanimous number one, receiving all 50 first place votes. Denver was two, Minnesota three and Miami and New Hampshire rounded out the top five.

Over in the Pair Wise (still too early to mean anything) BU jumped up a few slots to five, while undefeated Dartmouth was one, BC two, Denver three and UNH was fourth.

Around Hockey East 
Friday: Lowell topped Maine 2-1 at home... UMass blanked Providence 4-0 at the Mullins Center... Boston College topped Notre Dame 3-1 at home... BU upended Merrimack 3-1 at Lawler Rink.

Saturday: Maine actually won a game! Defeating Lowell 4-3 at Tsongas Center... New Hampshire shutout Vermont on the lake they call the Whittimore Center... Northeastern skated by Alabama Huntsville 3-0 in a game which I attended... Merrimack lost to UConn 3-1 at home.

Sunday: NU completed an unimpressive sweep of UAH with a 3-1 win at home... BC dropped BU 4-2 at Agganis.

Matt Grzelcyk was named Pro-Ambitions Rookie of the Week by Hockey East. He scored his first collegiate goal Sunday vs Boston College.

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