Since Brian will be attending the Frozen Fenway game tonight with our good friend and blog contributor Christian, and Jeff has forgotten what ice and snow is down in South Carolina, we bring on Christian for the first half of the Big Finish to discuss tonight's game ...
Christian: This Friday, Boston College and Boston University will face-off in the first outdoor college hockey game since Wisconsin played Ohio St at Lambeau Field in 2006. I'm considering myself very lucky to be able to go to the game in Fenway Park, not only because games like these are such a rare occurrence (only the third in the modern era), but because it's not just an outdoor hockey game. It's an outdoor hockey game between BC and BU. I can't imagine a scenario more perfect than this. It always seems like no matter how good or bad either team is, the match-ups between the two are never short on excitement. It's as if both teams reach down and pull out all the stops just to beat their rival from the other side of the T. Brian, how excited are you for the game tomorrow?
Brian: I'm very excited. If you had asked me last month if this would end up being a good matchup, I would have told you that BC should cruise to victory in this one. But with a new year comes a shift in momentum. BC lost both games in the Wells Fargo Denver Cup - giving up 9 goals in two games - while Boston University started the new year off with a good win over #15 Massachusetts. BC's weakness this season has been an inexperienced defensive line with only one upperclassmen patrolling the blueline (Carl Sneep). Now with Patrick Wey out six to eight weeks with a fractured wrist, the Eagles will be even thinner on defense. The Eagles have already given up 2.82 goals per game this season.
However, it's not all bad news for the Eagles going into the new year. Chris Kreider - BC's lone representative in the World Juniors - is coming off a 6 goal performance in 7 games, helping Team USA win the gold medal. The freshman forward was fairly quiet the first half of the year, scoring only 2 goals through his first 14 games with BC. Do you expect Kreider to use his outstanding performance in the World Juniors to propel him to a strong second half?
Christian: I don't want to say this is a fluke, but it's hard for someone to keep up that kind of scoring pace. Not only that, but he did this in the World Juniors, which are against different opponents and with different teammates. Now I didn't watch any of the games, but how many of those goals were set up thanks to superb passes from top-notch forwards? Again... I have no idea, but I'm just speculating. Having said all of this, though, I think that his performance was incredible, and i don't mean to take anything away from it. I definitely think that he'll use the momentum and confidence he gained from the World Juniors to have a much more productive second half.
Brian: I did get to watch Kreider play in the Gold Medal game and the talent is definitely there. There's a reason he was a first round draft pick for the Rangers in last year's Entry Draft. His goal in the game against Canada was an outstanding individual effort. He showed tremendous speed all game and he set up his first period goal all by himself, snapped off a wrister that beat the Canadian goalie up top. I'd be willing to bet Kreider will return from the World Juniors a different player. He'll have a strong second half of the season.
Prediction time. What are your expectations for this game? Who wins? What's the final score?
Christian: In true BC-BU hockey fashion this will be a very interesting game that anyone can win. I think it's going to be a tough, hard-fought battle with quite possibly a few lead changes. While BC is the better team this year, BU's going to have some momentum coming off of that win you just mentioned. Still, I'm looking for BC to get back on track against a BU team that, in all honesty, really hasn't looked like the defending National Champions this season. I'm going with a close game right up until the end. 4-3 Boston College in overtime.
Jeff: Joe and Steven Whitney have been on a scoring streak of late. Joe has five points in his last five games, while Steven has all 9 of his points in the last 10 games. Which brother finishes the year with more points?
Brian: Joe Whitney is up 3 points on his younger brother so you have to go with him.
Brian: On The B.Rink points out that the Coastal Division - largely thought of as the much stronger of the two ACC divisions this year - went 1-3 in bowl games while the Atlantic went 2-1. Did anything from this bowl season make sense?
Jeff: Not at all including last night's bizarre championship game.
Jeff: BC's 57 point victory over NJIT was the largest Eagles' margin of victory in 28 years. Do you place any significance on the win over NJIT?
Brian: Not really, but it was nice to get at least one convincing win this season.
Brian: Based on his magical formula, Patrick Stevens ranks the ACC programs over the past decade and ranks BC the 6th best program in the ACC. Agree with his ranking system?
Jeff: Not exactly but he basically got it right. Like he said, BC could've helped their cause by winning one or two of those ACCCGs.
Jeff: Dennis Kuiper predicts how the ACC basketball standings will look at season end and has the Eagles finishing 11th of 12th. At this point, do you predict the Eagles to finish higher than 11th?
Brian: Yes. I'll try to be optimistic and say the Eagles finish a few spots higher than 11th.
Brian: Last one, you will be at the BC-Clemson basketball game tomorrow. Can the Eagles pull out the road W?
Jeff: It all comes down to breaking Clemson's press. In other words, we're probably looking at an L.