I’m going to keep this one nice and short. Believe it or not, nothing really has changed since my last two posts about the Huskies or Black Bears. Northeastern is still good. Maine is still bad.
The Huskies should have absolutely no problem with this round of the playoffs. The only difference between these two games and the last two games is that I’d expect them both to look like Saturday night’s game and less like Friday’s. Literally the only thing I’m worried about this weekend is coming out of it with everyone healthy. The Saturday game meant absolutely nothing for the Black Bears; they were locked into their position in the tournament. They still acted like goons when things went south. I can see things getting a whole lot worse when their facing the end of their season. There’s a few key pieces on this team with very recent concussion issues. I’m sure the team makes it out of this weekend, let’s hope all the players do, too.
Head on a swivel out there.
2/26/16: Northeastern 5, Maine 3
2/27/16: Northeastern 7, Maine 1
The Huskies completely demolished Maine this weekend, sending them back to their sad, cold campus in the woods empty-handed. Despite the Black Bears’ best efforts to goon it up Northeastern kept calm for the most part and made them pay for their cheap shots.
For about 110 of the 120 minutes the two teams played this week, the Huskies completely controlled play. Friday’s game had a few worrisome minutes where Maine came back and tied the game at the end of the first, and the Black Bears started out pretty well on Saturday, but that was it. They were rarely threatening outside of those two periods. While a lot of that has to do with them being bad at hockey, you can also attribute some of that to their insistence on playing the game on the penalty kill. Maine racked up 50 penalty minutes on Saturday alone. Northeastern certainly took advantage of those opportunities, scoring four powerplay goals.
I absolutely loved that all the way to the end the Huskies kept up the pressure. Tanner Pond scored a powerplay goal at the very end of the game to make it 7-1. No mercy. If anyone deserves to get the score run up on them, it’s this Maine team. They couldn’t skate with Northeastern so they started taking cheap shots and the Huskies buried them. Kevin Roy had a (kind of) Gordie Howe hat trick. Good. Can’t wait to see them next weekend and end their season.
PS – It was nice to see Derick Roy get in the game at the end. He made one of the best saves we’ve seen all year in his limited time in net:
The regular season comes to a close this weekend as the Huskies host the Maine
Panthers Black Bears and newly extended head coach Red Gendron for two at Historic Matthews Arena. This series doesn’t really mean a whole lot for Northeastern who’s already locked into the sixth spot in the Hockey East tournament, but let’s take a look at what we have.
Maine is not good. They’re currently tied with UConn for second to last in Hockey East. While their goaltending and defense have been bad (team save percentage of .904, 3.24 goals against per game), it’s the offense that is truly noteworthy for the Black Bears. Maine is dead last in the conference in scoring offense, averaging under two goals per game. The closest team to them, Vermont, is an over ten percent increase in scoring away. The special teams aren’t helping things either. Their powerplay is converting at the second worst rate in Hockey East, and they’ve given up the second highest amount of goals on the penalty kill. Maine also has a fun tendency to allow teams to score late in games, giving up the highest total of third period goals in the conference. Things could be better up in Orono.
As has been well documented, Northeastern has been cruising. They should have no trouble against Maine at home. While the Huskies are locked in to the sixth spot in the tournament, there are some implications of this game. Maine, UConn, Merrimack, and UNH are all possible first round opponents. If Northeastern sweeps Maine, they’ll stay in the eleventh spot and play the Huskies again. If Maine can get a point and UNH sweeps UConn, UConn will fall to eleventh. If Maine gets two against Northeastern and Merrimack is swept, they could fall to eleventh. UNH falling to eleventh is a distant possibility if they’re swept by UConn, Maine gets three points, and Merrimack gets two. Also, there’s the distant, but still existing, possibility of an NCAA tournament appearance! Even though the Huskies’ place is set, there are things riding on this game for them.
Northeastern extends it’s study abroad program to the hockey team this weekend as they partake in the Friendship Four in Belfast. UMass Lowell will be the first opponent they’ll give the international business to on Friday (I’ll stop).
Lowell isn’t quite the cure for the struggling offense that the Huskies could hope to match up with. The fourth ranked Riverhawks have the second best scoring defense in Hockey East, averaging only 1.31 goals against per game. Goalie Kevin Boyle has been fantastic all season, posting a conference leading .956 save percentage. I wouldn’t count on this being the week where the Northeastern powerplay finally gets going either. Lowell has only given up six powerplay goals all season.
Keep in mind, however, that Northeastern has had great performances during Thanksgiving weekends before. It was just last year that the Huskies knocked off number one Minnesota during Thanksgiving weekend. The year before that, Northeastern won the Shillelagh Tournament all the way out in Indiana. They lost to St. Lawrence the next year but whatever. The year before that? Beat Michigan. I’m not saying that this is definitely a pattern and the Huskies will definitely beat Lowell, but that’s basically what I’m saying.
Let’s be honest here; whoever comes from the other side of the bracket doesn’t stand a chance against Northeastern in the championship game. Come on, the Huskies play in the SEC of hockey. Who’s in the EZAC? How many teams did they have in the championship game? Not worried.
I can’t wait to see our boys lift the first ever Belpot Trophy, turning Belfast and all of Europe into Northeastern fans. Sláinte
2/20/15: Northeastern 6, Maine 4
2/21/15: Northeastern 3, Maine 6
Well thanks a lot Maine. You ruined it.
Northeastern’s win streak ended last night at seven and now it looks like a very, very long shot the Huskies make the NCAA tournament. Although they remain at 18 in the PairWise, Northeastern pretty much needed a sweep this weekend to gain some ground on the teams ahead of them. The NCAA tournament looks to likely be out of reach at this point, barring a Hockey East championship.
Other than the four goal first period on Friday, the Huskies did not look very good. They were outplayed in just about every other period, especially in the game on Saturday. I’m not sure if the team took the foot off the gas, assuming that Maine would be an easier opponent than they were, but they certainly were out worked. While Maine was doing a great job in front of the net and getting rebounds, Northeastern defensively was standing around and not doing a whole lot of anything. Except for the first period of the series, this was an ugly weekend of Northeastern hockey.
Now that we have that out of the way, hopefully the Huskies can erase that from their minds and focus on a HUGE week with three against BU, then the Hockey East tournament. I moved on past this weekend and on to the Beanpot pretty much instantly after the final whistle blew. Let’s just pretend this weekend never happened. I’ll see you tomorrow at the Garden.
Northeastern heads to Orono this weekend to take on the Black Bears of Maine in the second to last series of the regular season. For some reason, everyone talking about this series brings up how tough of a place the Alfond is for opposing teams.
I ain’t scared of you, Maine. So what if Northeastern hasn’t won there since 2008? The Huskies beat UConn last week against their bizarre home ice advantage at the XL Center; how much tougher can Alfond be? There is nobody in the country hotter than Northeastern. The Huskies haven’t lost since January 10th, the only loss of 2015. Aside from annihilating UConn last weekend and beating UMass the week before, all of those wins for Northeastern came against good teams. Maine’s 2015 sports losses to UConn and UMass (though I will concede they do have a couple good wins). I don’t think there’s anyone on that defense who can stop this red-hot Northeastern offense from doing whatever they want.
The Huskies will also be coming out guns blazing to try to better their position for postseason play. They’ll need these wins to try to grab a first round bye in Hockey East (or the matchup against UMass; same thing I guess). Obviously, if Northeastern wants any shot at making the NCAA tournament they need all the wins they can get. They especially can’t afford to lose to lesser opponents. So, don’t expect the Huskies to be looking ahead to the Beanpot on Monday. Leave that to those of us babbling incoherently about them on the internet.