For the first time in a long time Northeastern is hosting a playoff series. I went my entire time at Northeastern without seeing a playoff game in Matthews. This is a long time coming.
Unfortunately for the Huskies, the opponent is a red hot Merrimack team. The Warriors have gone over a month without a single win in an amazing run of consistency. They’ve gone 0-8-1 in that stretch, matching what our very own Huskies accomplished in the early part of the season. Northeastern’s defense has been shaky and struggled with getting the puck out of their own end these past couple weeks, which feeds right into the strengths of the Warriors. Merrimack is a possession force, being outshot by just 86 shots on the season. They also sport a top 11 scoring offense in the conference. The Huskies have been getting themselves back into penalty trouble against Maine and BU, and we all know the penalty kill is the worst aspect of this team. Again, we run into another strength for Merrimack, who own a top 10 Hockey East powerplay. With a team as ready to take advantage of the Huskies’ weaknesses, I’d actually consider Northeastern lucky to make it out of the octo-final.
In all seriousness, the only real chance Merrimack has is if their goalie, Tirronen, is able to steal two games in this three game series. He has been shaky since the new year started, but he’s shown the ability to stand on his head and have some big games. In Merrimack’s only conference win of 2015, Tirronen posted 51 (!) saves. He obviously has ability, but he’d have to overcome a team surrounding him that’s on one of the worst skids of the season. Merrimack has been awful and is not poised to take advantage of any of the weaknesses Northeastern has shown in the past couple weeks. I’d be surprised if I end up needing my ticket for Sunday.