Thursday, March 12, 2015

Weekend Preview: BU enjoys double bye, awaiting opponent in HE semifinals

The BU Terriers are enjoying their second consecutive "bye" week of the Hockey East Tournament this week as 6 other teams battle for the 3 other semi final spots. Out of those 6 teams, BU could only face 4 of them in a semifinal. Those four teams are UNH, UVM, Notre Dame and UMass Lowell. As a BU fan you definitely should be pulling for UNH as that would be the easiest path to the final aka a triple bye to the HE final. UVM, Notre Dame, and Lowell all present stiffer challenges defensively to the talented BU team that will have two players over 50 points after this weekend's two scrimmages against Merrimack (BU will count points for these scrimmages just like Maine did with Paul Kariya and his "100 point season 91 point season except these games technically count so BU isn't making stuff up like Maine with Kariya). Senior Evan Rodrigues currently sits at 49 points while future Hobey Baker Award winner Jack Eichel sits at 55 points. Merrimack will provide BU some good live play before the semifinal round but the BU defensive corps may need to get some extra work in practice next week as Merrimack was 11th in scoring in Hockey East this past season and don't seem to pose much of a threat offensively unless you are Clay Witt in OT.
Photo Credit: Michelle Jay/Daily Free Press

Merrimack is the perfect team to scrimmage this weekend if Notre Dame is BU's opponent next Friday night at the Garden. Merrimack's 1-3-1 style trap and stingy defensive zone play along with a great goalie make them tough to score on similar to Notre Dame who frustrated BU at Agganis three weeks ago. Notre Dame easily poises the toughest matchup for the Terriers as Cal Petersen has been playing out of his mind in goal and stealing games for a mediocre team. BU would need to eliminate Notre Dame's chances offensively as they are very opportunistic(Credit to David Quinn ,2015). They are lead up front by talented sophomore Vince Hinostroza and on defense by offensive defenseman and runner up Rhodes Scholar Robbie Russo. Notre Dame travels to UMass Lowell this weekend with the hope of getting back to the TD Garden for the second year in a row. In the Hockey East Quarterfinal series, UVM travels to BC and UNH travels to PC. BU could not play PC or BC until the Hockey East final due to their seeds.

UVM and Lowell would give BU a different type of challenge as both teams played BU tough in one game this season and got their doors run off in another. UVM has struggled to score all season and are 8th in the conference in doing so. They will struggle even more without leading scorer Mario Puskarich who has been out with an upper body injury. Lowell has been better than expected offensively ranking second in the league but their poor penalty kill(79.1%) has done them in a number of times this season. That probably has a lot to do with the very average goaltending that they are getting from UMass transfer Kevin Boyle.

UNH is unlikely to beat Providence this weekend but would be an ideal semifinal opponent for the Terriers. Even though they have already beaten the Terriers, it was in a game where BU spotted them a 4-0 lead and still almost won/ would have won with some good bounces going their way. The UNH goaltending situation has been stabilized by Danny Tirone but not enough to slow down BU's top line of three potential Hobey Baker Finalists. So go UNH and enjoy the two scrimmage games with Merrimack at Agganis everyone. BU is so fun to watch that NESN is actually broadcasting both scrimmages for all of New England to watch!

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