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.

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Week 11 Reaction: Shooting Gallery

Clay Witt

12/16/14: Northeastern 8, UMass 3

Christmas came early (and Hanukkah right on time) for the Huskies with a gift of a game in Amherst on Tuesday.

Northeastern put up an eight spot against UMass on the road, including five goals on the powerplay.  The Huskies chased starting goaltender Henry Dill just halfway through the first period.  In those ten minutes Dill posted a respectable 25% save percentage and allowed just three goals, but apparently that wasn’t good enough for the Minutemen.

In all seriousness, this was not all the fault of UMass goaltenders.  Northeastern was able to pass the puck around the offensive zone with ease, giving them great quality chances on net.  UMass also then compounded their problems by taking bad penalties and giving an effective Northeastern powerplay nine opportunities.  At one point the Huskies had scored five powerplay goals on just six shots (to put that in context, three teams in Hockey East have six or fewer powerplay goals this season).  Although they were getting outshot by the UMass, the chances Northeastern was getting were incredible.

All in all, you really can’t read too much into this game.  It’s a great way to head into the break and end the first semester, but UMass is a pretty terrible hockey team.  They aren’t exactly a measuring stick.  It was really interesting to watch an opposing team do exactly what had irritated Northeastern fans, especially myself, from the other side.  We had complained earlier this year about other teams doing whatever they wanted in the Northeastern zone and the Huskies taking tons of penalties, some especially stupid.  That was UMass on Tuesday.  I like being on this side much, much better.

Week 6 Reaction: Sweet Victory

Nolan Stevens

Some days you wake and the grass is a little greener, the coffee smells a little better, and it doesn’t seem like a frozen tundra before Thanksgiving.  That day is today.  Your Northeastern University Huskies won!  They beat a team! In hockey!

After losing the first leg of the home-and-home in New Hampshire, the Huskies bounced back to get the first win of the season at home in front of a loud crowd at Matthews.  Have to say, it’s pretty cool to see all the old Dog House banners hanging from the balcony and hear the fans actually participating again.

Clay Witt is back in net and it feels so good.  Even though UNH scored five in the first game, I think he still looked very good.  At home, he stopped 34 shots and held UNH to just one goal.  He kept the Huskies in the game when the team was being out-shot by over eleven through the first two periods.

The part that really got me excited was seeing that Northeastern has the ability to come back.  On Friday, they gave up three first period goals, and managed to come back to tie in the second, though they eventually lost.  Even more impressive, I think, is the what they did on the second night.  After UNH put up a go-ahead goal in the third period and Northeastern had been out-shot by such a huge margin at that point, I think we all could see the writing on the wall.  The team couldn’t put pucks on net at all, so giving up that goal seemed the end of the game.  But then, something weird happened.  Northeastern scored!  The Stevens’ Family and Rosenthal answered and tied it up short after.  It was that line that also gave the Huskies the eventual game winning goal (Nolan Stevens’ first of his career).  That line was a bright spot in what has been a very dark offensive period for the team, with N. Stevens winning Pro Ambitions Rookie of the Week.

While it feels good to see Northeastern win, I still don’t think the team is playing very well.  You could make the argument that they were outplayed in both games this weekend.  Clay Witt was incredible in that second game, and was the only reason the Huskies even had a chance at winning.  They’re still taking way too many penalties (five in each game), and stupid ones at that (too many men, embellishment).  The game just needs to be cleaner in every aspect, from clearing the zone, to playing with discipline.  Better teams than UNH will be able to take advantage from how sloppy they’ve played.

But, Northeastern won and I personally am going to just bask in that for a while.

First Month Recap

Mike Szmatula

MNF was a blowout, so I decided to crank this out tonight instead of tomorrow.

Well ladies and gentlemen, if you have a weak stomach I suggest you avert your eyes.  This has not been pretty.

For some reason everyone and their mother expected Northeastern to continue that hot streak they were on. You know, the one that ended in February. Obviously, that did not happen.  I think we got a taste of what this team really is at the end of last year.  That being said, I don’t think anyone thought the Huskies would go out and fall flat on their faces like they have to start this year.

The god Clay Witt has only played two games this season due to a concussion.  In those two games he posted a .848 save percentage, which is nowhere near what he was able to do last year.  Enter Derick Roy.  He’s posted an .895 save percentage in his time in net so far.  Although this number isn’t great, it’s about all that can be expected from him.  In the five games he played last year, he had an .877 save percentage.  Plus, he isn’t getting much help from the defense.

This brings me to my next point.  The defense is terrible.  There is no redeeming aspect, at least thus far in the season.  It appears that shockingly, last years strategy (letting the opponent fire at will on net) is no longer working.  The penalty kill is giving up a goal on nearly 30% of penalties.

Adding to the defensive troubles is that Northeastern cannot get through the neutral zone.  It truly is amazing to see how a team with such offensive talent can be so graceless through the neutral zone.  They simply cannot carry the puck through to the offensive zone.  When they then attempt to dump it in, they cannot retrieve the puck and keep it in.  The Huskies aren’t even shooting well, scoring on just 5.56% of their shots on goal.  Although it’s well established that +/- has limited use for evaluating players, I think it’s worth acknowledging that Northeastern only has two players with a positive +/-, one of them being Jarrett Fennell who has only played in one game.

So, although that was overwhelmingly negative there is some hope for the Huskies this season.  Clay Witt will come back, and while he likely won’t put up the same kind of numbers he had for the first two thirds of last season, he will be better than what we have seen from him and Roy so far this year (I also think Roy will play better when he isn’t the number one, but that’s just my opinion).  Secondly, the offense will have to be better than they are right now.  The low shooting and powerplay percentages will improve.  5.56% is an unsustainably low shooting percentage, and Northeastern’s powerplay was 4.8% better last year without losing much offensive talent.  The Huskies’ PDO of .929 is unlikely to continue for the rest of the season.  The team will be better than they are right now, but they are not as good as the preseason polls predicted.

I realize this has been a long first post, but I missed a whole month.  They won’t be this long going forward, I promise.

Follow on Twitter: @neuhockey

PS – If anyone knows of a website to find advanced stats for college hockey, PLEASE let me know.  Dying to know what Cockerill’s CorsiF% is.