10/17/15: Northeastern 1, Bentley 4
This weekend sucked. There’s no way around that. It was terrible and I hated it. Friday night Northeastern outshot Bentley 51-11 and still lost. Saturday night the Huskies outshot the Falcons 41-27 and still lost. It’s easy to look at two losses on the schedule and panic. Back to back losses are obviously not good. Bentley really isn’t that good of a team. You can also look at how the team played and the shot charts and write this weekend off as running into a hot goalie. The answer is somewhere in between.
First things first, obviously Bentley goalie Jayson Argue was amazing. His performance on Friday night was one of the best I’ve ever seen. I wasn’t able to watch the Saturday game, but it sounds like he was just as good in that one. After watching the last couple years of Clay Witt, Northeastern fans should be used to seeing a goalie steal games like that. It’s almost karmic that it should come back and happen to the Huskies after Witt graduates.
Our old friend Northeastern Penalty Kill came back to haunt the Huskies, picking up right where it left off last year. Northeastern were only able to kill off one of the three penalties taken Friday and gave up another powerplay goal Saturday night. The inability to stop opponents on the man advantage is exacerbated by the team taking a nine penalties over the weekend. Jim Madigan said after Saturday’s game, like he did every single weekend last year, that the team needs to stop giving opponents opportunities on the powerplay. Judging by the Madigan teams we’ve seen over the past couple years, I wouldn’t count on that happening any time soon.
As was expected, some people are pointing to the goalie position as the reason Northeastern lost these games. Writers and fans alike pointed to net as a potential issue before the season, and those voices grew louder this weekend. I still maintain that Derick Roy is more than adequate in net for the Huskies. Obviously, I didn’t see him play on Saturday and it seems like he may have been pretty shaky in that game, but he actually played pretty well on Friday. The first goal was scored off a loose puck right in front of the net. The second a powerplay goal that was the result of good puck movement. He gave up the third goal after stopping a powerplay chance and having the rebound go right to a Bentley stick. I don’t think that any of those are really bad goals to give up. Again, I wasn’t able to see in person how he looked on Saturday and he did get pulled. For what it’s worth, Madigan said that it was more to get Ruck some work and try to shake up the team, not because of performance.
All exaggeration and joking aside, there’s no need to panic. This team has plenty of talent at every position. They controlled the game against Colgate, dominated on Friday night, and it sounds like they were definitely the better team Saturday as well. They lead all Division I hockey programs in CF%, even strength CF%, and close CF%. They have an incredibly low 89.2 PDO. But, the penalty situation is a very real problem that’s costing Northeastern games. The penalty kill needs to be improved and the Huskies need to stop taking so many penalties. This was an issue all year last season and it went unaddressed. The skill is there for the Huskies, the important part is to keep their heads on straight. The goals will come if they play the way they have so far this season. It’s the mental game that needs to be improved.