Grant Salzano: We're joined by Lowell hockey blog "The Ice Is Life" for this portion. Thanks for taking some time to chat.
The Ice Is Life: Thanks for having us.
Joseph Gravellese: Let's get right to it.
People wouldn't have necessarily been shocked to see Lowell (Lowell. Lowell. Not UML. Lowell. Got it) at 1-1-1 through three games, given the schedule, but it's not exactly been the road to 1-1-1 people would have expected. What are your impressions of Lowell's start so far?
TIIL: Frankly they haven't played as well as they should have. The home draw against Vermont is evidence enough of that. The only game in which we would say they actually played to their potential was, not coincidentally, the 3-1 win at Colorado College.
We should note, they played Denver far, far tighter than the 5-1 score (three of the goals came in the space of about two minutes in a third-period meltdown). But nonetheless, not where we or, we suspect, the team itself would like them to be.
GS: What in the world happened against Vermont? Was it just rust coming out of the gate, getting outworked all over the place, or all of the above?
TIIL: It was a combination of no finish and no discipline. We want to say power play time in that game was like 13 minutes to six in Vermont's favor, including a five-minute major and a full two-minute 5-on-3 during that time, all in the third period.
They were lucky not to have lost it, to be honest.
JG: Do you think the significantly loftier expectations going into this season are justified? and do you think the expectations will impact the team's play at all?
TIIL: Yes to the first, probably not to the second. You can't win 24 games and finish second in the league with a team that graduates four kids, only two of whom are really regulars, and not be expected to more or less reproduce that.
We'll note that Lowell didn't start out particularly well last season either (2-3-0 through five games), and it was hard to expect better than a split on the road at Denver and CC anyway. The Vermont game is a bit inexplicable, all things considered, but the team had more than a few inexplicable results last season as well, including a loss to UConn.
GS: God, honestly, if it were us, we would never speak of such a thing again...
JG: Losing to UConn is never OK.
TIIL: We try not to, but we're being illustrative.
How's Malcolm Lyles doing these days?
TIIL: He has zero games played. Does that answer your question?
JG: That sounds about right.
GS: I'm one of the people really high on Lowell so I think you guys will be alright. Like you said, you started slow last year.
For me as a fan, this is what I want to know: I didn't get to a Lowell game last year. Do you guys still play that God-awful, trap style of hockey that makes me hate going to Tsongas more than getting my eyes doused in acid? Getting beat there more often than not didn't help, but still...
JG: I feel like since I became a BC hockey season ticket holder (this is season #7 for me) Tsongas has been a black hole where BC momentum goes to die. Is there a good explanation for that?
Haha we are on the same page there...
TIIL: We would say that in general Lowell plays styles to suit the opponent and I wouldn't expect to see the game get too wide-open. In what way does it behoove Lowell to let BC out of the barn? What Lowell does now, under the "new" coach, is gets the attack to go in the opposite direction considerably faster and can successfully turn over a far greater number of pucks.
The attacking brand of hockey Lowell plays now is far more attractive, but if you think they're floating defensemen against Boston College you're out of your mind.
JG: Well, that Miami game was probably a blueprint for what you'd like to see against BC, I'd imagine. We saw a lot of what you were talking about -- quick transitions leading to goals.
TIIL: Yeah then that's what you're going to see (well, HOPEFULLY as far as goals go -- and with Parker Milner in net, we're counting on it).
JG: Oh, and lots of Carr. Who I liked that day. But I imagine I won't like so much this weekend.
TIIL: Yeah that's the interesting thing about Lowell's defense last year and to a lesser extent this year. People think of those River Hawks as this great defensive team, and that was true overall, but to be honest, there were some real problems on the blue line that Carr covered for. It's improved this year, but not to the extent we'd like just yet.
JG: A couple of questions/notes on your blog before we turn to weekend predictions and whatnot.
You guys seem to have mastered the art of internet trolling. I'm thinking especially of Two Minutes' Hate on Miami back in March. What are the top three keys to a good day's trolling?
GS: I'm looking forward to these responses... I consider myself a pretty solid troll on the USCHO forums but there's always room for improvement.
TIIL: By our standards, you almost certainly aren't.
1) You really have to tap into what you know people don't like already. Miami or UMass Amherst, for example, don't like to be called "Miami of Ohio," or "Amherst," so calling them those things is an easy way to score points.
2) Stereotype, stereotype, stereotype. We did a Two Minutes' Hate about Alabama-Huntsville that was basically just making fun of Jeff Foxworthy fans, but it got those hayseeds all riled up.
GS: "If youuuuuuuuuu've ever been to an Alabama-Huntsville hockey game......."
TIIL: However, it's important not to be lazy. Making fun of BC popped-collar bros, for example, is too easy. As is making a crack joke about Lowell or rape joke about BU.
GS: Oh God, that may have to be partially redacted... this is a family blog...
TIIL: 3) Don't be afraid to branch out to things not directly related to their hockey team. Talk about what a hellhole Orono is, etc. It's really easy.
JG: Corrolary to this question: UVM legend jcarter on USCHO: Troll or really that dumb? We've had long philosophical discussions about this.
TIIL: We try not to read the USCHO forums because it's the worst, but in general the answer to, "Is a pathetic homer fanboy really that dumb?" is, "Yes."
So this weekend... a big home and home right off the bat for both teams. How do we all see it shaking out?
TIIL: It could very easily be a split or a sweep for either team. That's the easy answer, obviously, but we wouldn't be surprised by any result. We will note that if Carr starts both contests, it seems very unlikely that BC piles up the goals, which obviously helps Lowell, but he is inarguably the best goaltender in Hockey East for a reason.
To answer your question, the heart says Lowell sweep, the head says split with both teams winning at home, the pit of our stomach says BC sweeps. Nothing would be a surprise.
JG: Late-game heroics at zoo-mass aside (we can all agree they're pretty terrible), I think the league road games are going to be tough for BC in the early going while the young D get their legs. So I'm going to go with the too-obvious pick and say each team wins at home.
GS: To me it really comes down to if BC can continue the momentum from the end of the Amherst game (Ha! Trolling them and they don't even know it!). We carried the momentum over and handled the Huskies pretty easily. I don't think we'll quite have the success of a season opening packed house and banner night, but I also think we kind of realized how we need to play as a team.
I definitely think there are two really close games. I'll take a 1-0-1 weekend for BC, with the tie coming at home (because I like to be different). But the win will be one goal or 2 with an empty netter.
And I'm picking BC winning the weekend completely because you tied Vermont. Fair or not.
TIIL: Well, that's not UNfair.
Please recall, though, that Lowell under Bazin has a tendency to play up or down to its opponents for the most part. (Maybe we're just being overly defensive.)
JG: Do you have any early-season impressions from around the league other than that Maine is awful? You guys have seen Vermont... we've seen NU's all-too-predictable jekyll and hyde act... anyone else we're willing to make snap judgments on on the basis of box scores and hearsay?
TIIL: Okay, for real, how bad is Maine?
JG: St. Lawrence suuuucks. To get pounded by them twice at home is pretty sad. That said, they are very young.
TIIL: Not only the St. Lawrence results. They have three goals scored in four games against teams not named Army.
JG: They actually looked okay against Notre Dame when I watched them on NBC Versus Sports Life Network, though anemic offensively.
GS: I don't care how young they, are, St. Lawrence took them to school. Reading twitter it sounded like Maine hit a lot of posts and may have had some poor puck-luck, but that's not enough to make up for how badly you got owned by the Kent State of college hockey.
JG: I didn't think they'd fall this hard this year, but yeah it's looking oogly up there.
Northeastern plays UMass-Amherst this weekend in a home and home. I'm thinking they ought to come up with some sort of trophy for that series, maybe a statue of a fan throwing debris on the ice.
TIIL: The whole bottom half of Hockey East just looks awful most nights.
JG: I agree with that, sadly.
GS: I think Northeastern is legit, honestly. I think they get home ice.
TIIL: No chance. Wouldn't trust Rawlings as far as we could throw him.
JG: I'm not TOO down about last week's non-Maine out-of-conference results. PC seems to have played well against Miami, and while we expect them to step up this year they're still not experienced under bright lights of playing a top team. And obviously you saw that Lowell easily could have played DU closer.
TIIL: PC and UNH are borderline home ice teams in our opinion.
JG: I'd agree with that, I'm high on UNH if DeSmith has a solid year.
It's going to be hard to tell where the top Hockey East teams stack up nationally until the tournament comes around, honestly.
When's the next time BC plays Lowell? January?
TIIL: Beginning of February if we recall.
GS: February 8th. In the middle of Bean Pottery. Which reminds me, TIIL... Where Is Yours?
JG: When we meet again to discuss that game, where will BC and Lowell be in the standings and in the national rankings?
TIIL: Both will be somewhere between 1-3 in the league and Top 10 in the nation barring disaster.
JG: Full concurrence.
GS: Oh God that is just past BC's usually midwinter collapse... we'll drop like a brick to the bottom of the top 3 in the national rankings and top 3 in the conference standings. Lowell will be top 10 nationally but #1 in Hockey East.
TIIL: We'd take that.
Can we ask you a question?
TIIL: Do sane people actually think Parker Milner is a better goalie than Doug Carr?
JG: Hey now. haha
GS: The casual fan here has no idea who Doug Carr is. I will say this, it's hard not to believe Milner is elite after 19 consecutive games of 2 or less goals, and winning them all.
JG: We saw a lot more Milner than Carr. But he really was tremendous down the stretch. He was helped by playing on an incredible team, but he had so much to do with the big run last year.
One point I'll grant you in this conversation:
Milner was shaky as all hell and very inconsistent before The Run. So I suppose it's possible he regresses to the mean this year. But I'm banking on seeing Good Milner all year.
GS: I do think Milner has more high glove saves than Muse had in his entire career to this point in the season.
TIIL: BC post-February could have you between the pipes and win most nights.
JG: Hahaha... Grant has seen me between the pipes. So, I think he can attest, No.
GS: I once witnessed Joe jump vertically to try and stop a puck that never left the ice surface. No.
JG: Our intramural team lost our championship game something like 16-1. I knew how it felt somewhat to be Miami of Ohio.
GS: Count it!
TIIL: Oh did you play a Hockey East team?
GS: AND THE FOUL!
JG: If BC football played against Lowell hockey in a game of football, who would win?
GS: Lowell football.
TIIL: BU football.
GS: This has devolved significantly.
JG: Thank you sir(s).
TIIL: You got it.
GS: Good to have you. We'll chat again in Feburary.
TIIL: Sounds good. Thanks for having us.
The Ice Is Life, née The River Hawk Hockey Blog, can be found on twitter here. Definitely worth a follow for some hockey and humor. BC and Lowell face off at Tsongas Arena Friday night at 7pm before heading back to Conte Forum for a 4pm afternoon game on Sunday.