As I said yesterday, tonight's matchup with Providence is the biggest game of the season thus far for BC - not only because these two teams sit atop Hockey East, but also because this is the first time BC gets a crack at Providence since the Friars came in and completely smashed the Eagles on Senior Night last March. I have no doubt that game has been on the mind of BC's players and staff all week - not just for reasons of wanting to avenge that loss, but also because it was pretty much a precursor of things to come against BU and Union in the postseason - defensive breakdowns galore.
BC comes into this game riding a 5-game winning streak, while Providence enters in the midst of a bit of a skid, with their last game being a gutting 2-1 loss to Northeastern on Tuesday night.
In some ways, tonight's matchup is a clash of styles. Providence is a more physical team, and a little bit bigger than BC overall (though who isn't... Gaudreau skews the average!). Additionally, their goalie is their MVP. They won't want to get into a track meet with the Eagles. While Providence's offense has been adequate, scoring 68 goals this year, BC's offense leads the nation. Neither team is very good on the power play, so the team that dictates the tone and tempo of the game 5-on-5 will likely come away the winner.
Following tonight's game, the Eagles make a rare trip to Thayer Street to take on Brown in Providence - a nice treat for the Eagle fans who will make the trip. Brown's Meehan Auditorium is a classic ECAC venue and I'm very excited to get down there for tomorrow's game. It looks like the game is either sold out or very close to it, and there should be plenty of BC fans in the house. Worth noting for anyone making the trip or looking to watch online: while the game was originally scheduled for 7 PM, it's been moved up to 5 to avoid bumping into the Patriots playoff game.
BC Roster Notes
Not much drama surrounding the roster this week as The Kid has stated to expect a lineup that looks a lot like last week's. Once again, no Teddy Doherty. Rabble rabble rabble, rinse, repeat. Brian Billett will get the nod tonight, in a sign of confidence in the junior goaltender who has come on strong in Thatcher Demko's absence. Demko will return to net for the first time in a long while tomorrow night at Brown.
Billett tonight / Demko tomorrow
Game Times: 7:00 PM tonight --- 5:00 PM tomorrow
TV: No TV this weekend. Tonight's game will stream live on BCEagles.com while tomorrow is available on the Ivy League digital network.
Radio: WEEI 850 AM and BCEagles.com
Record: BC: 13-4-2..... Providence 13-4-4....... Brown 6-6-2
KRACH: BC #3....PC #8..... Brown #30
BC:84 GF (1st in HEA).... 44 GA (T-6th in HEA).... +40 GD (1st in HEA)
PC: 68 GF (4th in HEA).... 42 GA (T-3rd in HEA).... +26 GD (2nd in HEA)
Brown: 39 GF.... 40 GA.... -1 GD
Last Time Out: BC beat Notre Dame 4-3 last weekend at Fenway Park. Providence was in the opening act at Fenway and tied 1-1; they then lost 2-1 to Northeastern on home ice on Tuesday. Bruno is coming off a darn good weekend, tying Denver 3-3 and beating Colorado College 4-2. Granted, CC is pretty terrible this year. But still.
Common Foes: Brown has played two games against HEA teams this year -a 4-2 loss to UNH, and a 3-2 loss to PC. They've also edged BC opponent Harvard 2-1.
Storylines: Providence will be looking to snap their little skid tonight and get level with BC atop the Hockey East standings. Tomorrow night's big storyline will be the return of Thatcher Demko to the BC net following his sojourn to Sweden for World Juniors.
Fun Fact: BC's next four games are likely to all be selloutst: tonight vs. PC, tomorrow @ Brown, next Friday vs. BU, and next Saturday vs. Maine.
Players to watch: Gillies, obviously, for Providence. Offensively, Ross Mauermann is having a stellar season (14-14--28). He's pretty much carring the offense, as their second highest scorer has 14 points (Nick Saracino).
What sort of pace and tone will tonight's game take on? What will happen when the unstoppable force (BC's nearly 5 goal-per-game offense) meets the immovable object (Gillies, and his rarely giving up more than 2 goals per game)? Is there a risk Brown could be a "trap game" for BC?
Scoreboard Watching: Out-Of-Town Notes
Would you believe that BC-Providence is the ONLY Hockey East game tonight? This new schedule alignment sucks. The most interesting game to keep an eye on tonight may well be Union @ Quinnipiac, as the Q looks to stay near the top of the rankings. St. Cloud State travels to Denver tonight, with Denver's tournament hopes slip-sliding away.
Tomorrow night features two Hockey East games: Maine @ BU, and Lowell @ Northeastern.
The Pre-Game Watering Hole
I love walking around Providence and have regularly turned our @ PC game into a full day trip. The area around Brown is a lot of fun and features a lot of great places to eat and drink. Plenty of USCHO posters had suggestions for the area in this thread.
Boston College 4, Providence College 2
It's one game, anything can happen, yada yada, but after reviewing the stats yesterday, I feel pretty comfortable in thinking this is a good matchup for BC, and the Eagles will demonstrate their place atop Hockey East. My reasoning is that BC has scored a lot of goals against pretty much every kind of team: good teams, bad teams, mediocre teams, Eastern teams, western teams, attacking teams, defensive teams, home teams, away teams - it doesn't matter what the game is, you can usually count on BC to score a lot of goals. Granted, Gillies will be the best goalie they face all year. But I feel pretty comfortable in thinking BC will score at least 3.
On the flip side, I don't think Providence's offense is good enough to outweigh BC's relative weakness on the defensive side. It's considerably more uncommon to see PC put up the kind of big goal totals that are usually present when BC loses. (Opponents' goals scored in BC losses this year by the opponent: 3, 6, 5, 5.) The Friars potted 5 against BC last year, but this year's defense is considerably improved from the mess that went on at the end of last season. Additionally, while PC's strength is in having a pretty deep team, their high-end scoring has been limited ti Mauermann - a very good player, but perhaps one who's been overachieving a bit.
So, tl;dr version: I think BC wins a 7-game series against Providence at this point in the season. As such, I feel good about their chances of winning at home tonight. I also feel like we'll see BC come out and play like their hair is on fire tonight. Jerry York might talk a Belichick-style good game about how they're always focused on one game at a time and every two points matters, but he DEFINITELY knows what's up in the pairwise rankings at all times, and you can bet BC will have a lot of focus and motivation in preparing for this game.
Boston College 6, Brown 2
I have considerably fewer thoughts about this game. JCNG.
BC 4, PC 2
BC 3, Brown 1
PC 4, BC 2 - but it's tied halfway through the 3rd
Brown 3, BC 2 if Steel is playing net. If it's Marco De Fillippo, then it's BC eleventy billion, Brown 2. And yes, I'm going with my heart on this one and subsequently expect to take a beating from everyone. I look forward to it.
BC 3, PC 2
BC 6, Brown 0
PC 3 BC 1
BC 5 Brown 1
BCI Prediction Standings
5 points for a correct prediction, minus one point for how far off you were from the victory margin. i.e., predicting a 4-goal win and it ends up being a 2-goal win = 3 points. Also, 1 bonus point for getting a team's score correct. Enter this week's contest by leaving your predictions in the comments.
I need to make a correction to the standings and retroactively credit giantsfan428 with a victory for his predictions during the BC-UNH series, which I completely forgot to tabulate. Congratulations!
On to last week's result:
BC 4-Notre Dame 3
Joe: BC 5-ND 1 (2 points)
Grant: BC 4-ND 1 (3 points)
New Guy: BC 3-ND 2 (5 points)
Brian: BC 5-ND 2 (3 points)
ACal6888. BC 4-ND 3 (BOOM 7 points ENJOY)
Patty Y: ND 4-BC 3 (0 points womp womp)
bc1863: BC 2-ND 1 (5 points)
BCEagle74: BC 5-ND 1 (2 points)
giantsfan428: BC 4-ND 2 (5 points)
EagleNY: BC 4-ND 2 (5 points)
JPDot: BC 3-ND 1 (4 points)
bceagles66: BC 3-ND 2 (5 points)
Congratulations to ACal6888 for being the only person to get the 4-3 win spot on. Nice work.
Brian - 2.5 wins (Week 3 tie, Week 4, Week 6 1/2)
Joe - 2 wins (Week 1, Week 7)
Grant - 2 wins (Week 5, Week 9)
ACal6888: 1 win (Week 10)
giantsfan428: 1 win (Week 8)
Conrad - 1 win (Week 2)
BCJacket5 - 1 win (Week 6)
AJ - 0.5 win (Week 3 tie)
Leave your thoughts on the game below and see if you can climb up the BCI leaderboard, to win all sorts of fabulous invisible prizes. Actually, you know what, I'm making up a prize, right now. The winner of the BCI prediction game for the season gets a 15 minute interview done by New Guy on BCInterruption Radio at the end of the season. Yes, New Guy, I'm committing your time and your studio technology without your permission. Go Eagles!