I heard somewhere that rants are a great stress reliever. Probably from some doctor. Or maybe some blacked-out hobo dispensing free advice in the subway. Whatever. Maybe these rants just get you more infuriated? I don’t know. Fuck it. We’ll see what happens when I hit "publish". If this doesn’t calm me down there’s always Anheuser-Busch (“St. Louis, Missouri!”) here to have my back. With that in mind I’d like to share my thoughts on tonight’s game versus BC. Yes, the Pigeons won tonight. The final score was 4-2. If you read this blog regularly I assume that you already watched the game. And if you watched the game, you know that the final score in no way represents the way this game was played.
First period - Less than a minute into the game, BC went up 1-0. What I’m about to say is going to be a theme of this recap, but please note that I’m trying really hard to be objective. BC scored basically right off an offensive zone faceoff which resulted from a terribly blown icing call against the Terriers. Does this mean that BC didn’t earn the goal? Of course not. They won the faceoff, found a shooter in blown BU defensive coverage and beat O’Connor (who was hung out to dry by the D) for the goal. Would any of that have happened if the linesman had correctly waved off icing when the puck struck an Eagle’s leg? Nope. That’s all. Frustrating.
Seriously though, I’m trying not to be one of those guys who can’t take a loss and just bitches about the officiating to spread the blame. I don’t want to be that guy. But this was not your typical 4-2 game, and the influence of the zebras on the outcome of the game is impossible to ignore while writing an objective recap. Call after call, whistle after whistle and penalty after penalty, bilaterally, were pretty atrocious. BU got three straight powerplays in a row in the first period, not all of which were great calls, but capitalized on none. BC was awarded a 5-on-3 out of nowhere to end the second and start the third periods, but BU killed it off. The refs seem to have a poor grasp on what "interference" even means, considering the two calls against Terriers who held their ground and personal ice space, forcing Eagles to go around them after dumping the puck in at the blue line. That play happens probably 15 times in every hockey game ever played with a blue line, but somehow the refs decided on some new rules for tonight. I also think that someone showed Parker's interview about diving to the refs, because they were just itching to whistle for embellishment calls on BU. They called one on Scooby for "diving" when he took a brutal hit from behind right by the boards and barely went down to one knee. I don't remember what I yelled at the ref but it would probably sound bad on a court transcript. Later in the game, Scoobs flopped to draw a call but the refs let the play continue. So inconsistent. You're a referee! Literally the only thing you have to do all game is be consistent. Whether you let the teams play it out or tightly police them for 60 minutes, you can't change your mind over and over.
[never mind the lack of Benedetto on the ice tonight]
Through the first two periods the score remained 1-0. In the last 30 minutes of this game BU threatened to score time and time again with few results. The third period was spent mostly in BC’s zone but, as I said above, the execution was not there the way it should have been. And that’s what it came down to tonight. Execution. The Terriers were on Parker Milner’s doorstep ALL NIGHT LONG with literally dozens of centering passes and back door feeds that either were shot wide or bounced over a stick or whiffed on entirely. If I were a religious man I’d be convinced that God is a malevolent prick.
The 4-2 final score also does not accurately reflect the Herculean effort put forth by freshman goaltender Matt O’Connor. Holy shit. OC stoned multiple Eagle breakaways and robbed BC of several grade-A scoring chances. He was a brick wall almost all night with a slew of highlight reel saves. After the first goal he settled down quickly. The second goal was goddamned heartbreaking by any standard. BC flew down the ice on a 2-on-1 chance, which was broken up with a fantastic defensive play by a diving Escobedo. Scooby and an Eagle followed the puck behind the net. The BC player threw it back towards the slot for a centering pass, but the puck went off OC’s skate and into the net. If that sounds a lot like the goal against OC in NoDak, that’s because it was almost a direct replication (except for the puck being thrown down on the boards from up high vs thrown in from the low boards). Really tough luck. I honestly would say that OC outplayed Milner tonight. While BU outshot BC, Milner's saves were on less dangerous shots on goal. BU had a ton of scoring chances but rarely capitalized on them by forcing Milner to make a save. OC was phenomenal tonight. Seriously: keep in mind that he's a freshman, too.
The third BC goal was reviewed and confirmed, much to the bewilderment of everyone that I’ve spoken with who watched the NESN broadcast (Terrier fans and non-fans alike). Everyone watching the Jack Edwards-commentated HD broadcast was in consensus that the puck had been illegally kicked in by BC scoring leader Johnny Gaudreau after being thrown towards the net on an odd-man rush. Apparently the zebras disagreed, and BU found itself in a 3-0 hole in what was being played like a scoreless game. BC got all of the puck bounces tonight, and when the puck wasn't bouncing they were earning their chances.
Let me clarify something, though. I’m not saying they didn’t deserve a win. BC played extremely well. While BU impressed me with their puck possession and shot totals, every time a BC player touched the puck it felt like a dangerous situation (even with OC on his game in net). The Terrier forecheck was basically nonexistent, as BC’s breakouts were flawless and fluid. The ability of Eagle players to find patches of open ice and move the puck forward out of their zone and into their opponent’s zone is really remarkable. While I haven’t checked the time on attack stats in the postgame box score, it felt like BU held the puck more but BC was much, much more efficient with their time on attack. BC had better body position on the Terriers during almost every play tonight. A couple of times they burned us at the blue line leading to odd-man rushes, which is an extremely standard play to see from the Eagles in at least the last few years. They're very fast and they used that speed to their advantage tonight.
Parker pulled OC with something like five minutes left. If you watched the 2009 championship game you already know that Parker's balls are just that fuckin' enormous when it comes to decisions like that. It must be awkward trying to sit down with balls that huge. What a boss. Anyway, after Matt Grzelcyk scored his first collegiate goal by collecting his own rebound and firing one past the glove of an out-of-position Milner, BC took the wind out of the Terrier sails when Bill Arnold sailed a puck 100 feet down the ice into the empty net for a 4-1 lead with two minutes to go. Just after, BU showed us their best five seconds of offensive zone presence all night with a tick-tack passing play that had the BC penalty killers spinning in circles trying to keep up. It was really quite pretty. The puck found its way to Alexx "Dos Equis" Privitera, who wristed it over the blocker-side pad of Parker Milner for his first goal of the season. BC held on to that lead though as the Terriers ran out of time, and the game finished out with a 4-2 final score. Too little, too late.
-The penalty kill: Outstanding effort by OC and the D. PK rallied the boys.
-Matt O'Connor: Wow. That is all.
-Defense: I was a little concerned about our D performance against Mack, but they stepped up. D play by the team as a whole in our own zone was impressive.
-Flashes of brilliance: if BU starts passing regularly like the setup to Privy's goal, WATCH OUT. Also, when Giller, Nieto and Cisse get their offensive swagger back, opponents should tremble.
-Resiliency: It would have been easy to roll over and accept a 3-0 loss.
-The powerplay: Futility is its middle name despite Privy's goal. Parker called it "deflating". Couldn't even set up in the zone most of the time.
-Gaining the offensive zone: Neutral zone traps killed BU tonight. Either learn to carry the puck over the blue line to dump it and muck and grind your way to a working cycle.
-Overcoming the forecheck: My goodness, we need to figure out how to beat a forecheck.
This game was MUCH closer than your typical 4-2 game. Let's examine the hypotheticals to illustrate my point. If the zebras had ruled Gaudreau's goal a kicked puck, you have a 3-2 final, including the empty-netter. If you don't have the lucky bounce off of OC's skate and into the net (if Andy Brickley really thinks that was some masterminded set play he can blow it out his ass. Give me a break.), it's a 2-2 game counting the empty-netter. This is a game that BU was VERY capable of winning. One puck that didn't bounce the wrong way in Milner's crease. One stick that made the right contact with the puck on a deflection.
But of course, these are the things that make and break sporting events of all types. Woulda, coulda, shoulda. The bottom line is that while the two teams played a pretty even game tonight, BC came out on top because they finished the chances they had when it counted. The takeaway for BU fans? Be very, very proud of your team tonight. They were shut down in the second period by tough team defense by BC and registered just six shots on goal. Then they were down 3-0 and they refused to lay down, electing instead to turn the pressure up to 11 in the final period and earn two good goals. All of this against the #1 ranked team in the country and the reigning national champions. Yes, they're BC kids and can go fuck themselves, but that doesn't mean that they aren't a very good hockey team, all jokes aside. Everyone knew what to expect this year from BC but the Terriers have one of the youngest teams in the country with a lot of unknowns. Tonight and in their last few games they proved that they fully belong in the same discussion with the elite teams of Division I cawlidge hawkey. What's more, this is a team that's still getting to know each other. When you take a group of guys this young and inexperienced with each other, and they're putting in a performance like tonight's against a team like BC, I cannot wait until the next meeting. The Terriers are only going to get better and grow together as a team. If I were an Eagles fan, first I'd plan my own suicide. Then I'd celebrate the win. Then I'd realize that BU is on it's way UP the ladder in terms of skill and team chemistry. Then I'd be scared of what the rest of the season holds as the Terriers progress. Then I'd kill myself. See you fucks in three weeks at the home-and-home. Goodnight.