Thursday, January 30, 2014

UMass Preview-Win or Lose They Still Booze

The BU Terriers face the UMass Minutmen is a conference matchup as their last game before the Beanpot begins Monday. The Terriers and Minutmen are separated by one point in the standings as BU trails UMass who has played one more games than BU. BU took the first game of the season from UMass 3-1 at Agganis Arena but that was back in October and both teams are much better at home than on the road. This game, more so than any other, will be dictated by special teams play.  UMass has the best powerplay in the conference at 21.8% while BU comes in 3rd at 20.8%. UMass is last in penalty kill at 80.2% while BU 's PK is middle of the pack(7th in the conference) at 82.8%. The team that can stay out of the box the most will win this game. This is crucial for BU especially early to take the crowd out of the game.

BU will rely heavily on their top two lines which Coach Quinn hinted would be O'Regan-Baillargeon-Rodrigues and Lane- Hohmann-Roberto when he spoke with USCHO at the Beanpot luncheon on Tuesday. He was discussing this in reference to the Beanpot(which begins Monday) but you would have to think he is going roll similar lines Friday as well if Rodrigues feels close to 100%.

BU traveled to Amherst for this same game last year(Friday before the Beanpot) and came out on the losing end at  5-1. Sean Maguire got the start in that game but it will be Matt O'Connor between the pipes tomorrow night for the Terriers. O'Connor has not played since Flooded Fenway due to the solid play of his classmate Sean Maguire. It is unknown if Jake Moscatel will be healthy enough to return to the lineup but I would expect the third line of Collier-Moran-Duane to stay together for this one as they forechecked well and scored in the third period Saturday vs UVM. That would leave the 4th line of Kelley-Lawrence-Ronan. It will also be interesting to see how Ahti Oksanen's minutes are managed after his third period benching on Saturday after making a costly turnover that lead to a shorthanded goal for UVM. Garrett Noonan has been seeing huge minutes on defense and I would expect that to continue especially with two days off between games this weekend.

The Terriers #1 way to give themselves a chance in this one is to stay out of the box. They cannot win this game taking more than 3 or 4 penalties. They need to keep this game 5 on 5 or themselves with the powerplays or they are going to struggle to find a way to win. This is a big game in HE standings as well as a confidence boost heading into the Beanpot. Even the best teams struggle at UMass so getting any type of win at Mullins would be a huge step in the right direction for the Terriers.

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