A typical season of heightened expectations began this past week, and for all that Boston College did right in a thumping of the RPI Engineers, the Michigan game could almost assuredly give Jerry York more than enough game film with which to thump his guys in practice. It's always an uneasy beginning of the season; teams are searching for their identities, and they're still trying to work out their chemistry of where they'll be. In a couple months, things will look vastly different. Just finding the right combos becomes just as big as being consistent. Let's take a look at what went right, what didn't go right, and what's just playin awful:
Johnny Hockey: Puckman needed to catch the number of that bus that ran him over on Sunday. Gaudreau struck for a goal and two assists in the 7-2 destruction of RPI at home on Sunday, a masterpiece showing that gave him 99 points in 81 games. RPI tried to break him down, slashing him in the second period. But Gaudreau responded on the power play to give BC a 2-1 lead. This came after an assist on the only goal BC scored against Michigan. Good start for the #GaudreaubyBaker campaign and for Calgary Flames fans everywhere who have seen their team open up undefeated.
Thatcher Demko: The defense had its problems on both nights, but Demko responded against RPI in a fashion of predecessors like John Muse, Parker Milner, and, of course, Cory Schneider. BC was outshot 13-2 in the first period but went into the locker room tied, 1-1. After his defense tightened up in front of him, Demko wasn't overly challenged the rest of the afternoon.
Special Teams: The BC power play only got two opportunities against Michigan, so it's not alarming that they didn't score a PP goal. They got two opportunities against RPI, and it is alarming that they scored two power play goals. And that's not alarming in a bad sense. That's awesome. 2-for-4 on the power play is something any coach would drool over. It makes opponents more tentative. And while Michigan went 2-for-5, RPI went 0-for-7. 2-for-12? I'll take that any day of the week and twice on weekends.
Attendance on Sunday: Over 3,000 fans showed up on a day when the Patriots were at home and on television opposite the BC hockey game, followed by Game 2 of the American League Championship Series, also in Boston. Plus it was a Sunday afternoon during a holiday weekend that's not a holiday weekend for everyone. Solid showing by the BC fans.
Defense: The defense needs some work and will be a work in progress. That means that BC fans need to dig in and bury their heels in the dirt for what'll be some tough games. I've learned this first-hand that a defense that struggles at times will be more maddening than anything. You'll lose games you feel you should win, games that you're winning by one the entire third period and lose because you give up two goals in 30 seconds. BC was outshot in both games this weekend, and the team, forwards included, needs to work more on the defensive end.
Penalties: People on Twitter were losing their minds (myself included) because BC absorbed too many penalties at too many bad points during the Michigan game. Bill Arnold took a bad penalty towards the end of the second period, and Teddy Doherty's penalty all but killed BC's chances at marking a comeback against Michigan. Two of Michigan's three goals came on the power play, both by Luke Moffatt. And Michigan is not Minnesota, who BC draws next week for two games. And, likewise, the seven power plays afforded RPI is playing with fire. They're going to play teams that are better on the power play, and doing that against some of the teams on the schedule will haunt a coach's dreams.
Consistency: Moving forward, Jerry York will want his team to win more games by the same margin than to have a 7-2 night after losing 3-1. To hockey coaches, winning 7-2 is nice early in the season, but they'd rather win a boat load of games with strong defense than light the lamp and keep stats high.
What, Me Watch? For all the games televised this year in college hockey, a marquee matchup like Michigan-Boston College needs to be on television somehow. It was a midweek game, and it couldn't even crack the Big Ten network. What's the point of creating a hockey league when your conference owns its own television station if you're going to show an old Michigan State football game or "On Campus" with Urban Meyer or something else that nobody is ever going to watch or care about? Games between the Northeast and Midwest schools mean something, and fans from both schools would've tuned in. BC helped show the game on campus to their students, but I, like many others, were left either listening on our computers or shutting off the game altogether due to an interminable broadcast. I think Joe Grav's head also exploded at the poor quality of the broadcaster in this game. And, as much as I love Army, the fact that Penn State-Army was shown on Friday because it was the opening of the Pegula Ice Arena is even doubly slap-happy.