Thursday, October 20, 2016

Denver Lookback

Kieffer Bellows scored his
first collegiate goal on
Saturday night as BU lost
(Photo by Matt Dresens)
It’s been a busy week over here at the blog headquarters, so I’ll keep the revision of last weekend to a minimum.

BU lost not one, but two games at Denver and really did not look good doing it. There were moments where their pure skill was on display, but other times their inexperience showed.

Penalties were again a big issue. Denver had 14 power plays in two games, but only scored twice on the man advantage. While at the end of the day that doesn’t look horrible, penalty killing obviously takes a lot out of a team.

The other negative was the goaltending. I'm not one to sit here and blame everything on goalies. Far from it… but Jake Oettinger can’t give up the goals like the first one he allowed in game two. A bad angle shot from far out that went up over his shoulder is inexcusable, especially in that type of low scoring game. Granted, Kieffer Bellows scored off an equally horrendous angle later in the game to tie it. The goaltending needs to be more solid than it was.

Oettinger, like the other eight freshmen are going to take time to adjust to the college game. I think especially for Oettinger, who is just 17, it might take a little longer. It is certainly a lot to ask of a 17-year-old freshman to step in and take over the starting job in net.

Look, not all the kids are going to be Jack Eichel. I don’t care how high and how many first round picks the team has, it's going to take time to adjust. Look how dominant Colin Wilson was in the second half of his freshman year. It took him time. He developed and became an absolute force in college hockey. Put the panic button away, people. It’s a work in progress that ends in April, not the second weekend in October.

Ok, enough with the negative…

While it may take some time for the kids to fully adapt to college hockey, they certainly have some skill. There is no denying that. BU’s first goal of the weekend was an absolute thing of beauty. Patrick Harper made a strong push up the far side, before posting up at the hash marks along the boards. From there, he dumped off a pass that was a bit behind JFK. The Swedish forward made a nifty move to corral the puck behind him, drag it through his legs and then slide a pass through the crease to Brandon Hickey on the near side. Hickey one-timed the pass into the back of the net to cap off a spectacular power play goal.

Later in the game, Clayton Keller put on full display why he was drafted 7th overall with an impressive shorthanded goal. Denver attempted a centering pass from below the goal-line that was deflected past it’s intended target and hopped over Will Butcher’s stick in the slot. Keller, who was a good three strides behind Butcher in the BU zone, caught and passed the Denver captain before the redline. In full stride, Keller was able to pick up the loose puck, stay on his feet as Butcher made one last-ditch effort to catch him by diving and almost tripping him before he broke in free. Once in alone, Keller made quick work of Denver goalie Tenner Jaillet with a swift backhanded five-hole finish.

Overall, I think the weekend has the potential to be a learning experience for the team. They now know they can’t just show up and expect to win. This team will get better. They have too much talent not to.

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