Hockey East Semifinal Reaction: GARDEN PARTY

Adam Gaudette

3/18/16: Northeastern 5, BC 4

THEY MADE IT TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP.  THEY BEAT BC.  THE HUSKIES DOMINATED ALL NIGHT.  THEY WERE INCREDIBLE.  THE EAGLES STUNK.  THE ONLY GOOD PLAYER IN WHITE TONIGHT WAS DEMKO.  THEIR TEAM BARELY SHOWED UP,  JUST LIKE THEIR FANS.  IT WAS BASICALLY A HOME GAME FOR NORTHEASTERN.  WE SMOKED THEM.  I CAN’T WAIT FOR TOMORROW.

Week 10 Reaction: Better I Guess?

Zach Aston-Reese

12/5/15: Northeastern 3, BC 3

12/6/15: Northeastern 3, BC 4

That was an absolutely brutal way to end what was a pretty good weekend by the Huskies.  A horrible, horrible third period took away a huge upset against Boston College.

Northeastern put together five periods of really, really good hockey against by far the best team in Hockey East this week.  Even after going down 2-0 in the first period of Saturday’s game, the Huskies looked like the better team for the majority of the period.  The forecheck was working, keeping the puck in BC’s end.  Northeastern absolutely dominated the third period.  Helped by the lack of discipline from the Eagles, we ended up with a very lopsided shot chart for the third period (via BC Interruption).  The Huskies out attempted BC 32-6 in that period alone.  Northeastern went on to dominate the overtime in that game as well, giving up only one shot in the extra period.  Overall, it was a good really good effort put together from the Huskies.  Thatcher Demko was essentially the only thing keeping Northeastern from winning that game.

The Huskies carried that performance on in the Sunday game, jumping out to a two goal lead, both from Eric Williams.  The controlled play for the majority of that period.  Even when BC put up a goal in the second, Northeastern answered almost immediately.  They were still playing really well in the second game.  Then the third period happened and ruined all the good vibes from the weekend.  The Eagles scored two quickly to tie the game, followed by the lesser Gaudreau giving them the lead halfway through the period.  Northeastern barely saw the puck the entire period, and just looked generally terrible.  I don’t really know what happened, they just sucked all of the sudden.  They were sloppy, they were slow, they were awful.  They essentially gave away two league points, not that it matters anymore.

That one period really took down what had been a great weekend for the Huskies.  They were the better side against a great BC team.  They did it without three of their best offensive players.  They came back from an early 2-0 deficit.  They scored first period goals.  They even scored two powerplay goals (although they went 0-6 Saturday).  I should feel happy about how Northeastern played against a top team in the country.  The should have come away with three league points.  But they completely fell apart for one period, tearing it all back down.  This sucks.

Week 10 Preview: BC

Darou590

The Huskies are coming off their first win since week one, and a solid performance against a top-five team in the country.

On the other side of the ice are the Boston College Eagles.  BC leads Hockey East in just about every single category.  They have the best scoring offense in the conference with 4.54 goals per game and the best scoring defense, giving up only 1.23 goals per game.  Goalie Thatcher Demko has been one of the best players in the country with his .953 save percentage.  While BC has taken by far the most penalties in Hockey East, they have the best penalty kill to go along with it.  The only thing the Eagles aren’t best in the conference in is the powerplay, where they sit in the middle of the pack.  Even with a conference average powerplay, they still lead in net special teams.

BC hasn’t lost a game since week two against RPI, and has been on an eleven game win streak since then.  The only game that has been even close since then was a 4-3 win over Denver in October.  They’ve been so dominant that when I looked up their corsi close (conference leading 59.4% for what it’s worth), there were over 300 more shot attempts in non-close situations than there were in close situations.  BC hasn’t even had to break a sweat.

Northeastern certainly has its work cut out for it this weekend against a very tough opponent, who they haven’t had much success against in the past.  But hey, nobody thought they’d beat them in the first round of the Bean pot last year.  It can happen.

Beanpot Round 2 Preview: BU

Vinny Saponari

Here we are again.  For the third straight year, Northeastern is in the Beanpot championship game.  This time around it’s BU lining up on the other side.

I’ll say it.  BU is really, really good.  They’re the third ranked team in the country.  The Terriers are in first in Hockey East and are up four points on second place BC with a game in hand.  Their first round game against Harvard, although going to double overtime, was one of the most dominant performances I’ve seen in a while.

We all know about Eichel.  He’s amazing.  Everybody and their mother is talking about how great the BU offense is, and they’re right.  BU is scoring an average of 3.69 goals per game.  They’re powerplay is converting 26.3% of their chances.  They’ve scored an incredible 49 goals in the third period.  We all know about their offense.

What has gone under the radar is how good the defense is on this BU team.  It has been a huge part in the quick turnaround.  BU has the third best defense in Hockey East with four of their regular defensemen being freshman.  Goalie Matt O’Connor is ranked second in goals against average and save percentage, behind only Mike Santaguida in both categories.  Although it doesn’t get the same amount of love as BU’s offense, the defense has been excellent.

The keys to this game for Northeastern are the same ones we’ve seen before.  They can’t give up penalties.  BU is the best powerplay team in Hockey East and Northeastern is next to last on the penalty kill.  Witt (presumably) will have to be excellent again in net because BU will put up a ton of shots.  With the inevitable third period surge the Terriers will have, at no point can you feel comfortable with a lead.  This is certainly an uphill battle for Northeastern, but it’s just one game.  Northeastern has already beaten one third ranked opponent; who’s to say it can’t happen again?

Beanpot Round 1 Reaction: Goin’ Up On a Tuesday

Darou590

2/3/15: Northeastern 3, BC 2

Last night in the first round of the Beanpot, Northeastern carried on what appears to be a couple traditions: playing in another close Beanpot game and making it to the championship game.

I’ve missed a couple posts now between moving back to Boston, starting a new job, and the internet being out, but hopefully I should be good to go from now on.  My cable and internet were still out Monday night and I really lucked out with the game being postponed.  Sometimes things just have a way of working out (by harassing Verizon).

The Huskies were able to snap BC’s five year streak of Beanpot championships and make it to their third straight championship game.  It was the powerplay again that came up big for Northeastern, scoring two in the second period (they also gave up a goal but we won so it doesn’t count).  To be honest, I was super skeptical of having Saucerman playing the wing on the powerplay at first but it has worked out.  He does a great job finishing from the left side of the net, although this one wasn’t particularly difficult.  On the other side, the Huskies did a good job staying out of the box, taking only one penalty.  Clay Witt was his usual great self.  You can’t blame him for the goals he gave up; both were on breakaways and he even stopped the initial shot on one of them.  He was alone with shooters a few times and made some big saves.

To be honest though I was completely convinced Northeastern was going to lose this game.  BC was able to answer the two leads and for some reason I couldn’t shake the feeling.  But Dustin Darou (really, Darou) came out of nowhere to give the Huskies the lead with a minute and a half left.  The dude has only played in half the games this season.  He had one goal in his entire career coming into the game.  But, when BC decided to give him all the time and space in the world, he made them pay for it by putting one in the far corner past Demko.  It was a pretty sweet moment to see a guy who was only in the lineup because of injuries take down the Boston College Eagles in the Beanpot.

It was an awesome game made even better by beating BC.  I’ve felt awful all day and have been completely useless at work but the team made it worth waiting the extra 90 minutes for the undercard to finish and getting home at 1:30 (still would have been worth it anyway, but whatever you get the point).  The defense will have to play better next week against BU for Beanpot to finally come back to Northeastern.  Some of their breakaways were inexcusable, but anything can happen in one game.  Plus, I heard Eichel might go to the Q.

Week 14 Reaction: Not Great

Colton Saucerman dishes the puck along the blue line.

1/9/15: Northeastern 1, Boston College 1

1/10/15: Northeastern 2, Boston College 4

Well this weekend didn’t leave a very good taste in my mouth.  Heading into the games I really thought that Northeastern would come away with at least a win. They didn’t.

Friday Northeastern and BC skated to a tie, but the Huskies deserved better than that.  The first period especially was filled with grade A chances but Northeastern couldn’t put anything past Thatcher Demko.  The Huskies finally beat him for a goal in the second period with a weird, pop up that got behind him.  After taking the lead, it seemed like Northeastern started to play much more defensively.  BC really started to control play and began piling up chances, especially late in the third period.  Eventually BC was able to feed an open skater in front who put one over Witt’s shoulder to tie the game with two minutes left, which would end up being the final outcome.  Northeastern outplayed BC for the majority of that game.  The Dog House was packed and really loud.  I really feel that Northeastern deserved the win in that game, but they couldn’t cash in on their opportunities.

The Saturday game was another story.  Northeastern certainly controlled play in the beginning of the game and was rewarded for it with a Torin Snydeman goal about halfway through the period.  After that, it was all BC.  The Eagles did a much better job keeping the Huskies out of their zone and possessed the puck for most of the game.  Clay Witt allowed some uncharacteristically weak goals, including one from behind the net that went off his blocker.  He wasn’t helped out by the defense in front of him who didn’t put any pressure on BC skaters in the defensive zone and really struggled to clear pucks out from in front of the net.  Northeastern certainly did not play well enough to win, or even compete in this game.

I said in the preview that Northeastern’s powerplay would be important if they were to beat BC this weekend.  The Huskies’ one goal on Friday was a powerplay goal, but that is about all the success they had this weekend.  The powerplay was abysmal on Saturday, not scoring on SEVEN chances.  They had two separate five on three situations, one of which was for a full two minutes.  The cherry on top is that they actually GAVE UP A GOAL on one of their powerplays.  Northeastern had all the momentum in the world coming into this weekend and once again couldn’t beat BC.  The Huskies could have really used a good result from this weekend because it doesn’t get any easier with two road games at Vermont next week, then Notre Dame, and the Beanpot after that.  Hopefully the frustration from this weekend doesn’t linger and the boys can move on.

PS – I also want to say that Thatcher Demko was amazing this weekend.  He was the reason BC got a tie on Friday and was excellent again on Saturday.

Week 14 Preview: BC

stevens

Well here we go.  It’s BC weekend.  Northeastern takes on the Eagles in a big home and home this weekend.  First game is tonight (Friday) at Matthews, then a televised day game in Chestnut Hill that you can watch at NESN if you so desire.

I, for one, am fired up for these games.  The Huskies have been absolutely rolling.  Since that terrible, no good, very bad 0-8-1 start they have gone 7-2-1 and have looked really good in that time frame.  Over in Chestnut Hill the Eagles have the same exact record in their last ten games and will be getting back all 200 of the players they sent to the WJC (excluding Santini).  Luckily, Steve Santini will reportedly sit this weekend out.

Northeastern will have to try to limit the BC offense if they want to succeed this weekend.  I know that sounds obvious, but BC has the third highest scoring offense in Hockey East so far this season and the blue line has continued to be a weak spot for the Huskies this season  The team actually has the third worst scoring defense in the conference.  Likewise, offensively the team will have to capitalize on the chances they do get.  Although BC may not be quite that championship level team we’ve seen in the recent past, it has a lot more talent than Northeastern.  One of the ways to beat a more talented team is to beat them on special teams, something that Northeastern has done well recently.  The Huskies need to keep on taking advantage of their opportunities on the powerplay like they have done recently.

BC has always had trouble playing against Northeastern, especially at Matthews.  I’m not sure what it is, but the Huskies always play them well (even if they don’t get the win) with few exceptions.  I’d bet that Northeastern is able to get the win at home and make things difficult in Conte Forum.  A fun fact to keep in mind is that BC has given up almost half of its goals in the third period, and as we’ve learned Northeastern has shown the ability to battle back in games recently.  Even if they’re down, don’t expect the Huskies to go quietly into the night.  I expect points for Northeastern this weekend, and wouldn’t be surprised at all if they win a game.  There’s nothing I love more than when a Husky team wreaks havoc against a BC team and can’t wait to see it this weekend..