Hockey Banter, Week XVIII: Snowed-In Edition

via Graham Beck, BCHeightsSports.com

Snowed in from Blizzpocalypsageddon '13? Sad that there's no BC hockey tonight? Hockey Banter's got your fix.

Joseph Gravellese: So, what was the best part of Beanpot Monday? BU losing to Northeastern, or Northeastern beating BU?

Grant Salzano: BU losing. I enjoy schadenfreude more than I probably should. Northeastern winning was cool though. I can't really bring myself to dislike them, more than in just an "enemy-is-my-enemy" kind of way. They have their student dips**ts but for the most part they're just fun.

Interesting that all three Beans Pot are BC vs. NU -- men, women, and club.

JG: That is interesting. The More You Know. That's the way I like it, too. A Beanpot final against BU is stressful. A Beanpot final against Northeastern is fun.

I'm sure there will be others out there who disagree, but my attitude about Monday night is "if we win -- which we probably will -- woo!. If we lose, well, hey, that's a cool story for the Beanpot that Northeastern won."

And I consider the women's Beanpot final to basically be a bye. Maybe that's wrong of me, I just don't see NU beating BC in that one.

GS: Yeah absolutely. Losing to NU wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, except for the fact that we'll be back to wondering where the hell this team is going.

In women's, I think we were both pretty shocked to see NU thump #3 BU like they did. But I truly believe that BC and the rest of Hockey East are in two totally different stratospheres.

Northeastern men, though, are pretty bad as well. This is almost the rare Beanpot double-bye to the men's title. BC Harvard was a foregone conclusion.

JG: Well, it would be bad on the macro level, losing to NU, yeah. It would reverse this little kick of momentum. But on the micro level, losing to NU doesn't suck the way losing to BU does.

Speaking of the little tick of momentum... I know you're Mr. POSNAN so I think I know the answer to this before I ask, but... what are you thinking of the performance against Harvard (and, to a lesser extent, Vermont)? Is it whatever, because they were against two crap teams? or are you thinking a corner has been turned?

GS: In a weird way -- stay with me on this one -- I think playing these lesser teams will/is actually making us better.

I think we had been trying too hard. I think guys were probably gripping the stick a little too hard, overthinking things, and just generally playing tight. Playing these lesser teams will get us less worried about everything and just get us back to our game.

Sometimes you need these weaker teams to get you back into a good flow. We lost our groove, man. That's all that happened.

JG: My MEDIUMNAN take:

I wasn't all that encouraged by the Vermont game. Vermont is terrible and I thought we kind of played a mediocre game. I DO think you could noticeably see the difference in the team's attitude (and a relief of the whole gripping-sticks-too-hard problem) once they popped in a couple of goals in the second period. But overall, they didn't really look like BC to me, still.

But the Harvard game, despite being against an even worse opponent, did encourage me quite a bit, because of how noticeable several things were:

1) The transition game. The bread and butter of BC hockey. Lots of transition opportunities, wreaking havoc on any defensive gameplan by Harvard.
2) The impact of having a healthy (and disciplined) Matheson in the lineup. He made a big difference against UVM, too, but he was really noticeable in the Harvard game. The element he brings to the team really helps out the entire offense.
3) The play of the fourth line. Obviously. They had a big game against UVM, too - people will be talking about That Shift by Pat Brown for a long time.
4) 60 solid minutes of effort. With a strong focus on stout defense. There were some breakdowns, obviously, but the defense played well, especially considering they were rolling 5.
5) Just the general fact that if Girard didn't make a number of outstanding stops BC probably would have put up a patented Touchdown Eagles(TM) at the Garden.

Really, an encouraging game, and now it feels like we have some momentum.

GS: Briefly:

1) YES how many odd man rushed did we have? 15? Something ridiculous. That's been missing since game 1.
2) Matheson is beast. He makes that power play GO. That's a huge difference right there.
3) The Shift, I think, might be to this season's team what the late comeback win against UNH last season was. We'll see.
4) Rolling 5, for the last time (hopefully... knock on wood). Sullivan's back for the Beanpot finals! Hallelujah.
5) Not to mention Gaudreau still shaking Snakebite Syndrome. Which is totally A Thing.

JG: Re: 4, Hallelujah indeed. Sullivan was having his struggles this year but rolling 5 defenseman is not a sustainable situation.

#5 is almost an encouraging thing because you know he'll eventually start scoring on those.

The power play looked MUCH BETTER against Harvard. I think we only had the one PPG, but the most important thing was the MOVEMENT. There was one power play where we didn't score but were in the zone and buzzing for all two minutes, with all five players skittering around in the attacking zone like waterbugs. That's our game. That's how it's done.

GS: I think we had 6 shots on that first power play. Good chances too. Then we scored 7 seconds into our only other one.

Not too shabby.

JG: Related to Gaudreau -- I'm not sure that first line is a long-term solution. I don't know if Linnell is the right complimentary piece for a top line. I DO think this new batch of lines has found the perfect fourth line, and we've seen flashes of the others. But I think having a size guy (Arnold, Hayes or Straight) on Gaudreau's line would be a worthy experiment.

But then, who am I to question Jerry's lines, I guess.

GS: Thou shalt not.

JG: This is normally where we would turn our attention to this weekend's games, but obviously thanks to N3M0!!! we are hockeyless.

I didn't realize they'd already called off the women's game as well, which was scheduled for Saturday night at PC. Did they announce a makeup date yet?

GS: Yep. Tuesday, 2/19 at 7pm, which will make for three straight Tuesday games.

JG: Interesting. And of course, the other big storyline here, other than the postponed Lowell game, is Jerry York night being postponed til next season. Obviously there have been plenty of jokes about Jerry havings omething to with all of these postponements because he's too humble to want a night in his honor. I do think this is a good thing, from a fan perspective. The rest of this season's games are going to be huge events because it's Crunch Time. Now, one of next season's early games will be a special event. I'm cool with it.

GS: Yeah at this point, people who have been getting tickets to a game because they wanted to go to Jerry York night are probably all postponed'd out.

It was time to just give up and make it next year.

JG: Definitely a bummer for fans who planned on coming up from out of state especially for this. At least there will be months to plan, now.

One other thing I'd like to discuss before we shift gears and focus on TEH BEANPOTS: UNH and Maine are in discussions about playing an annual third "nonconference" game rotating between Portland Civic Center and Manchester's Verizon Wireless Arena. Cool. BC and BU should do something similar, yeah?

I mean, we have the Beanpot, something UNH and Maine don't have. But with BU deciding to make 4:30 PM their personal playground, maybe those matchups won't be as common.

GS: Yeah the Beanpot may have something to do with whether or not BC and BU will schedule something on a rotating basis. I don't think they will. But if they did -- ANNUAL OUTDOOR GAME AT ALUMNI. Make it happen.

JG: I think we've already discussed earlier this year that a rotation would be nice. A season kickoff at the Garden from time to time, maybe a doubleheader with two western teams or something as the opening act (or something like Harvard-Yale)... the occasional outdoor game... taking the show to MSG.

The point is, I want to see more BC-BU than just twice a year. Sadly, this seems to not really be in the works right now.

Speaking of games not between BC and BU... the good news about the games being postponed this weekend: no more trap game. It's time to focus on the Beanpot.

GS: BEANPOT

JG: You got BC, I'm guessing. Why? How? and by how many?

GS: Because the Garden is Our House. And we're playing better and have as full a squad as we can get sans Alber.

We'll win 4-0 or 5-1. Gaudreau will finally put home a breakaway score.

JG: I've got BC, too. I think BC gets about 5 goals no matter what. Rawlings is terrible and the offense will be clicking on the big stage.

This is a cop out but I don't know if 5 will lead to a blowout or a close game.... we could see one of two prototypical NU games: 1) the game where they fall behind early, fold up the tent and disintegrate, OR 2) the game where they're Good Northeastern, miraculously put up a great fight, score a bunch of goals, go toe to toe with BC, and cough it up late and depress their fans.

But that's my prediction. BC will score 5 or 6 goals and win. I just don't know what NU will do.

GS: I don't think it'll matter what they do. Milner will be Milner and the D is starting to tighten up.

JG: And if BC does win, it'll be the 4-year Beanpot sweep... an incredible accomplishment. (Knock on wood.) I'm already ready... should be a hell of a night.

Does BU repeat their 4:30 PM LULZ from two years ago against Harvard?

GS: No.

JG: Yeah, you're probably right.

GS: They won't even beat their LULZ from two weeks ago when they beat BU. This is one sad, sad hockey team.

I mean, so is BU, but they're at least, like, a real team.

JG: Yeah. Albeit one hampered by having to skate around with those ankle bracelet monitors on.

GS: *Rimshot*

JG: As for the women's game... should be a nice win for BC, yeah? Is this one of your Grant Salzano #Unjinxables?

GS: UNJINXABLE. Northeastern is a really respectable team with one of the best players in the country in Kendall Coyne, but that's all they have.

I really like NU's women's team but BC is just in another world. Plus Skarupa's back... forget it.

JG: I expect BC to run the table for the rest of the regular season. Which makes me nervous.

I don't like having such high expectations. But, Here We Go.

GS: Yeah here we go is right. We're almost to the point in the season where things will start to get interesting as far as just how far they can go.

I haven't given up hope on a title despite Minnesota's 28-0-0 record. Shocking, I know.

I will say this: The three teams Minnesota will face in the National Tournament, should they get all the way to the finals, will be the three highest ranked teams they will have faced all season.

I'm just sayin'.

JG: Oh you.

GS: What's the threshold for the talent level that can beat them? We just don't know. We know there's a huge difference in the standings from 3rd to 4th, from 5th to 6th, and from 7th to 8th. Minnesota's hasn't played a single team in the top 7.

I'm. Just. Sayin'.

JG: That should just about do it for this week's tl;dr digest.

GS: Hope you enjoyed this week's snowed-in edition. All the extra time you have now should make this tl;dr properly l for you to r.

JG: Enjoy the snowstorm. Stay safe. Go Eagles.

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