Hockey Banter, Week VII: This Week, With NUMBERS!

via Merrimack College

This week we look back on rivalry weekend, waste time looking at the Pairwise, and talk about how awesome BC hockey is.

Joseph Gravellese: Grant, for as long as I've known you, you've made all kinds of ridiculously optimistic predictions. Sometimes you look goofy (i.e., when they're about BC football). But BC hockey usually makes your predictions look good. And they did again this weekend. We're truly running out of superlatives to describe the streak the Eagles have been on since that fateful weekend in Orono.

Grant Salzano: What can I say, I know what I'm talking about.

BC hockey put together really a hell of a weekend against some fierce competition. Two W's and finally some competition to tell us how good we really are. And BC didn't disappoint.

JG: Not one bit. Those were two quality teams BC played. I know we hate BU, but I came away from Sunday even more convinced that they're pretty legit this year. They honestly looked like a faster, more fluid team than we've seen from BU in recent years -- even when they've succeeded it's usually been by mucking it up or being opportunistic on special teams. But they looked talented from top to bottom.

But..... not as talented as BC.

GS: Those two points against BU were huge but it just felt like business as usual knocking off the Terriers at Agganis. 8-1-1 in our last 10 games there... yow.

I think the win against Notre Dame was even bigger though. That was our only game against the CCHA this year -- and against their best team at that -- and we're sitting pretty with a nice 1-0-0 common opponents record out there.

JG: That will absolutely be a big one down the stretch when we start looking at pairwise comparisons.

This is pretty amazing, by the way: if BC wins at Agganis on Nov. 30, this year's BU senior class will have gone their entire collegiate career without beating BC at Agganis.

At this point the numbers are eye-popping and really speak for themselves. BC is 26-1 in their last 27. (WHAT?!). Remember making a big deal out of the last two senior classes racking up their 100th win as a class late in the season? These guys just did it on Sunday, with BC now 100-29-5 since Milner, Wey, Mullane et al. came to the Heights. And Milner is 50-10-1 as a starter. These are just... SEGA NHL '95-after-you-figured-out-how-to-score-the-cheap-wraparound-goals-esque numbers.

GS: Just ridiculous when you think about it. And none of these guys are "superstars" either. Just all players that you really want to build your team around.

JG: Some BU troll on USCHO commented after the game that this looked like the "most beatable BC team since 2009." But of course, he was kind of right: 2010 and 2012 won the title, obviously, and the 2011 team might have been the most talented of the three.

While this team more closely resembles the '08 team in terms of talent level, BC is still clearly ahead of the pack in Hockey East. Unless you're a UNH fan -- you can rightly make the case that we don't know how well UNH stacks up with BC just yet -- you have to be thinking it's going to be a long, long season if you're trying to keep up with the Eagles.

GS: BC, BU, and UNH have really emerged as the three teams who will probably stay close to the top of the Paiwrise. And speaking of the Pairwise... let's LOOK at the Pairwise.

...Despite their near complete uselessness.

Why? Because it's fun and we have a column to write.

JG: Sure. you're the numbers guy. Dig in.

GS: Okay:

LOL Dartmouth

JG: Yeah. We could be looking at a...

Okay

Trying to do this with a straight face...

We could be Looking at a #1 vs #2 game next Saturday at Conte.

(Note: I did not get through that with a straight face.)

GS: And the funniest part is that BC would get to PLAY the #1 team in the country *at Conte Forum*...

And not *BE* that #1 team

Because Dartmouth..........is the number one team in the Pairwise.

JG: I love small sample size.

GS: Which is honestly kind of funny, because the rest of the Pairwise isn't too far off. The rest of the top 5 is BC-Denver-UNH-BU. The polls have BU a bit lower, but it's not TOTALLY innaccurate.

JG: Denver is looking fierce right now. I really wish we had them on the schedule again this year.

GS: BC vs. Denver in Pittsburgh?

JG: If I had to make a prediction that's what I'd say right now. Of course, 'tis early.

GS: And of course, even if these are the two best teams in the country, you know it'll never work out that way. We'll probably play St. Cloud Sta...HAHAHAHA I can't even joke about that.

JG: Haha

In addition to the Pairwise Rankings I'm also keeping an eye on goal differential, which is usually a telling and predictive stat for how things are going to shift going forward.

GS: MATHS!

Feed me the numbers, chief...

JG: The huge caveat here is that early in the season, teams have very varied strengths of schedule. That said: Based on goal differential, UNH (+14) and BC (+13) are way ahead of the pack.

That passes the smell test.

BU is third in goal differential at +3, but rather than a clear #3, they're in a tight pack with PC and UMass (both +2) and Merrimack (+1).

Northeastern is even on the year. (Of course they are.) Vermont and Lowell are riding the strugglebus at -6... while we expect Lowell to improve, the numbers are ugly for them early on.

And then there's Maine at -20, which is just... wow.

GS: LOL WHAT

That definitely fails the smell test.

JG: Maine pretty much always fails the smell test, unless it's on or right after the official Maine Bathing Day, which I'm pretty sure is January 27 each year.

GS: *Rimshot*

JG: It feels like BC has been in a lot of tight games, but all the one and two goal wins have added up to a strong goal differential. BC has been remarkably consistent since week one.

GS: Yeah when you win every single game since then, that's pretty "consistent" I guess.

JG: I don't know how many different ways we can say "BC is cruising right now" without coming across as your typical arrogant a-hole BC fans. But honestly, there's not much left to be said, until proven otherwise.

GS: Anything you feel uncomfortable saying, just pass it on to me. I take pride in being an insufferably arrogant BC fan.

JG: Just to throw some more on the pile: BC pretty much swept the Hockey East weekly awards, and BC got every single #1 vote in both TOTALLY IMPORTANT polls.

Even Union Guy gave up.

GS: Here's a serious question:

At what point does the Pairwise matter more than the polls? Because they both matter pretty much Not At All... until a certain point where the Pairwise kind of matters and then progressively matters more and more.

JG: I'd say the pairwise starts being worthwhile and important to pay attention to when we get back from the holiday tournaments and start second semester.

At that point, not only are we at least decently into the conference schedules, but all the holiday tournaments and regularly scheduled OOC games give a decent point of cross-conference comparison.

Non-conference games are pretty much done, if not completely done, by the time January rolls around. Then it's business time. GS: I think maybe in general it's the point in the year where the last Mathfail(TM) team drops out of the top spot. Last year it was, what Merrimack?

JG: Yes.

GS: Might be a little while for Dartmouth to drop from the top with that brutal ECAC schedule. HA, get it? That was a joke.

A good one at that.

JG: Here's another semi-serious question that borders on teetering over into Arrogant BC Fan Territory:

As we know, Jerry York got wins #920 and #921 this weekend. He is now 3 away from tying the all time record and 4 away from surpassing it. I remarked earlier that I'd be treating these next two games, as a fan, with tournament-like intensity, because it could set up the opportunity to break and tie the record against BU...

And I've decided that if that happened, it would be easily the second greatest and most fulfilling thing that could happen this year behind BC winning the national title again.

But I think I'd take seeing York break the record at Conte against BU over, say, the Beanpot.

Thoughts?

GS: Even aside from the fact that it would mean a BC in-conference SWEEEEEEEEP against BU...

God that would just be oh-so-sweet. Seeing us beat them not just on the scoreboard but on the Class scoreboard... ahhh

JG: And I KNOW we're putting the cart before the horse. BC never sweeps BU and vice versa. But seriously, that would just be amazing.

So I'll be very nervous and fired up for these run o' the mill November games against Lost-To-UConn and "#1" Dartmouth.

GS: As much as we joke around about Dartmouth, that's going to be a tough game. Dartmouth may not be #1, but they are solidly in the thick of teams #6 through, say, #26, who could literally beat any team on any day at any rink.

JG: Now, if there is a loss mixed in in the next four games, BC's next chance to put York over the top would come at Providence on December 7. This gives me a chance to give a shoutout to BC sophomores Austin Blank and Austin Burns, who I know are loyal readers of The Banter: they helped organize a UGBC-sponsored bus trip to Providence for that game and expect maybe even a couple of hundred BC students to attend. Which would be fantastic, on top of the always-large alum and subway-alum BC presence that's always there at Providence.

So, it'd be a fitting backdrop for a potential record-breaker, if it comes to that.

GS: With that bus trip, BC fans are absolutely going to outnumber PC fans at that game.

JG: A couple of quick hits as we move this along:

The rich got richer on the recruiting trail as BC landed highly-touted defenseman Ian McCoshen. Next year's freshman class is just LOADED with potential high draft picks.

GS: 3 potential 1st rounders, I believe.

JG: Meanwhile, the sad trombone continues to play down the road at Northeastern as Cam Darcy left school for academic reasons to head back to the USHL. Womp womp. Though, they did beat Alabama-Huntsville, so there's that.

GS: Not exactly convincingly. Wompity WOMP.

JG: And the BC women only managed to tie against Dartmouth, 3-3, though I guess we were being presumptuous to assume a victory at a place where BC is something like 1-19-2 all time. But still, frustrating -- Dartmouth scored a late goal with under two minutes left to earn the draw.

GS: Don't even get me started about that game... we really should have handled them easily.

JG: This weekend they have a Freakin' Huge home and home with Northeastern (Tonight @ NU, Sunday at home).

GS: Huge doesn't even begin to cover it. Could be the biggest Pairwise weekend in quite some time.

JG: Meanwhile, the men just have one game, at home against Merimack tonight. I know what your prediction is going to be, but ... go for it.

GS: BC wins 4-0. FINALLY a snoozer, only our second of the year other than the 3-0 smoking of NU.

JG: Y'know how Gaudreau has 5 GWG out of BCs 8 wins this year?

GS: I do indeed know.

JG: The big drama is going to be if Gaudreau scores first so that he can rack up another GWG -- a stat that's been a big factor in the early-season Hobey Watch. I'm going to say BC puts up a touchdown. 6-0.

That should just about do it. Any closing thoughts?

GS: I just want to say that every time a new article comes out about how awesome #GaudreaubeyBaker is, I get a little more arrogant about it.

JG: I loved seeing that Flames fan try to push Calgary fans to buy the shirts. We love ya, Alberta!

GS: Eh?

JG: Also I'll have you know that I began a regimen of antibiotics on Saturday for an illness, so I was able to walk past the penalty box at Agganis on Sunday without suffering any ill effects. Ah, the miracles of modern science.

GS: THERE IT IS! We're on quite a streak now, folks.

JG: Until next time...

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