Monday, February 29, 2016

Weekend Lookback: No Bye

Player of the Week
Charlie McAvoy
(Photo by Matt Dresens)
This past weekend, I was not in South Bend but, I did get to watch Saturday's game on tape delay in the middle of the night Saturday. Well, I think by the time I watched it was more like early Sunday morning, but whatever. It was a busy weekend. Anyway, from what I was able to watch, BU looked snakebitten in game two. 

They had a lot of good chances to get on the board, but Cal Peterson had an answer for everything that night. BU did everything but score when they pulled Sean Maguire in the final minutes for the extra attacker. That is one of the promising things I'm going to take out of that game. They had a good minute and a half set up 6 on 5, which a playoff game very well could come down to. 

Maguire looked as if he had not missed a beat after sitting out the UNH weekend. BU, as a whole, looked a hell of a lot better than just a week ago. Having everyone back clearly makes a huge difference. 

Having their full roster is absolutely critical going into the playoffs. Right now, everyone is back, healthy and good to go. Unfortunately, the way things played out on Saturday has BU playing UMass in the first round of the Hockey East Playoffs. A win over Notre Dame on Saturday would have seeded them in third and a first round bye. So instead of getting a week off to heal up, BU is thrown right back in to the fire and get to play a team that they have pretty much rolled over already. In the two prior matchups this season, BU beat UMass 7-2 and 6-3. 

Charlie McAvoy
Somehow a kid who could very easily go late in the first round of the NHL draft (hey Bruins) this summer has flown a bit under the radar. In years past, guys like Colin Wilson, Brian Strait, Dave Warsofsky to name a few, have played on the USA WJC team and have come back better than ever. McAvoy's name is the next to be added to that list. Was he a bad player before the tournament at the begging of the calendar year? Hell no. 

That's not to say he hasn't improved a lot. Being the youngest player in college hockey McAvoy had to adjust to a completely different game speed  and in the second semester, he has really ramped up his play. He looks way more confident on the ice. Early in the year, he seemed to struggle a bit defensively. The offensive flare was there from day one. He was on the power play opening night in Union and even scored his first collegiate goal that night. Now, he looks much more sure of himself defensively. He is stepping up and pinching in the right places and playing strong in front of his own net. Playing along side Matt Grzelcyk doesn't hurt either. 

Looking Ahead 
As stated before, BU will play in the opening round of the Hockey East Playoffs as they host UMass. BU has never hosted an opening round playoff game since Hockey East expanded their playoff format in 2014. That season, BU finished 9th and played at Notre Dame. Last year the Terriers were the number one seed and did not play in the octo-finals. 

The last time BU faced UMass in the Hockey East tournament was 2006. BU won that series in two games en-route to the Hockey East Championship.  

The rest of the octo-finals look as follows: 
11. Maine @ 6. Northeastern
10. New Hampshire @ 7. Merrimack
9. Vermont @ 8. UConn

At The Polls
BU was once again ninth in the USCHO poll. Quinnipiac was one, North Dakota jumped up from fourth to second. BC fell back a spot to three from two, while Providence jumped up one peg from fifth to fourth. Finally, St. Cloud rounded out the top five. 

BU was all the way up to 7th in the PairWise after winning on Friday, but fell back into a tie with ND at 9th. 

Around Hockey East
Friday: Boston College dropped Lowell 3-1 at home… Northeastern took care of Maine 5-3 at Matthews… Providence dropped UMass at the Mullins Center 4-1… UConn fell New Hampshire 4-1 in Hartford… Merrimack got past Vermont 4-1 at Lawler… BU beat Notre Dame 3-2 in South Bend.

Saturday: Northeastern steamrolled Maine 7-1 at home… Providence completed the sweep of UMass with a 6-0 blanking… Lowell edged BC 3-1 at Tsongas… UConn swept UNC with a 5-4 overtime win… Merrimack shutout Vermont 2-0… Notre Dame also shutout BU 1-0. 

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