Thursday, January 14, 2016

Weekend Preview: BU/BC #robertmorris

The BU Terriers take on their arch rival Boston College Newton University Eagles for their only two scheduled games of the regular season this coming weekend. These teams could meet again in the Beanpot final (obviously) but that is far from a sure thing with BC having to play a top 10 team in the first round in Harvard. The #4 ranked Eagles come into the weekend overrated for sure but this still is the only top 10 matchup this weekend with the Terriers currently ranked #10. On top of a top 10 matchup, this is the best rivalry in college hockey where you can basically throw out the records whenever they meet. The teams, fans, coaches do not like each other no matter what front the coaches may put up when they are on camera. It brings out the best and sometimes worst in the players as they play in front of the most hostile crowds of the season outside of the Beanpot.

The Terriers come into this weekend on a bit of a heater having won three games in a row including two wins over top 10 teams in Quinnipiac and Havard. BC has gone 1-2-1 in their last four including an ugly loss to Ohio State who is the opposite of good. Despite the recent struggles, you will hear all about how talented BC is and how highly those in the media think of them. They are ranked 4 in polls despite being 10 in the pairwise rankings (which are the only ones that matter). I am not going to disagree with them that BC is talented. BC has plenty of talent especially up front and in goal if Thatcher Demko is healthy/knows where he is despite a concussion. The main point that I feel is being very overlooked is that BC has not been tested.  They just recorded their first win of the year against a current top 15 pairwise team. BU on the other hand has beaten three such teams as well tied Cornell and PC twice.  BC has not been pushed or really tested by any teams outside of Hockey East so we have no idea how good they really are. BU has played the top teams in the ECAC (Harvard, Cornell, Yale, and Quinnipiac) and Michigan along with PC. BU has been through a ringer of a schedule up to this point while BC kicks over tomato can after tomato can to easy victories.  To make this point clearer, lets take a look at two teams below (hint BU is better than both of them):

Team A: 4.15 goals for/game, 12.7 shooting %,  *QWB(Quality Win Bonus) .0034

Team B: 4.36 goals for/game,  12.5 shooting %, * QWB(Quality Win Bonus) .0036

*It is what it sounds like. It is a bonus factor into pairwise for beating good teams(BU's is .0112 best in the country)

Which team would you rather be at this point in the season?

Team A is BC and Team B is Robert Morris, who plays in Atlantic Hockey. Think about that. Obviously Robert Morris is not as skilled as BC (and is much older #prayforLucia) especially in net but they beat Lowell, Penn State and Michigan. Still, everyone considers BC to be a national title contender because they have a ton of talent. By this logic, Robert Morris is also a national title contender and nobody seems to be saying that. Let's see how BC does once they play BU this weekend and Harvard in the Beanpot. They scheduled a bunch of cupcakes in their non-conference schedule. Part of this isn't their fault as you have no way to know that Denver and Wisconsin would be having down years (multiple years for Wisconsin) when those contracts were signed. However, scheduling the likes of Army, RIT, Michigan State, as well as a tournament where you play Ohio State in the first round is suspect at best. This weekend's games will be highly entertaining and awesome to watch but I honestly don't think BU has anything to prove in terms of quality of competition. These games do a hell a lot more to help BC's strength of schedule than BU's. BU has played top 10 teams in over half of their games. 8 of their last 12 games have come against current tournament teams.

The most interesting things to watch from BU's perspective is how their freshmen react to the stress of playing their rival back to back nights, and also if BU continues to get improved goaltending from Sean Maguire and Connor LaCouvee. Maguire has been much improved as of late with wins over QU, Harvard, and UMass. BC goalie Thatcher Demko is coming off a concussion (which he played "through" for one night before missing last weekend). I would expect Demko in this weekend and honestly want it that way so BC fans don't have an excuse when BU whoops them two nights in a row. BU has the better defense. BC has the deeper forwards talent wise but BU's forwards have been bringing it the last four games including increased production from Bobo Carpenter and Robbie Baillargeon. The real X factor could be how does each team's young guys handle the moment and I'll take the guys who have been through game after game full of big moments including four guys who just got back from world juniors. Then again it might be a nice relief for BU to finally not have to play their best to win, BC is just a younger Robert Morris after all.

PS Oskar Andren will score his first collegiate goal this weekend and it will be glorious

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