Hockey Banter, Week XIX: Trophy Season Is Upon Us

Boston College Athletics

We simmer over the Notre Dame loss and look ahead to the Women's Hockey East championships.

Joseph Gravellese: Let's cut right to the chase. On the heels of the Eagles' loss to Notre Dame, are you worried? down? bummed out? or devoid of negative thoughts?

Grant Salzano: Well, definitely pretty bummed out. That #1 overall seed is a pretty big deal and it sucks to have lost a realistic shot at it. That probably stems at least partially from my own selfish desire to go to Philly, but mostly I think I'm just scarred from that nightmare against Union.

I also would really like to avoid playing both Union and Minnesota in the tournament... eek.

JG: Well, that's not likely to happen.

GS: It would it they both advance. Which isn't *unlikely*.

JG: But even just putting the #1-seed issue aside -- which, granted, is a huge deal -- from a zoomed-in level, just looking at BC and their relative "power outage" (by BC standards) the last few games, are you concerned?

GS: No, not really. I think it's just more a result of playing those teams that play that style. Also, a couple people have mentioned that they don't think Hayes is playing 100%. So, yeah. I don't know. At this point the offense is so strong that a few games of 'meh' isn't stressing me out.

JG: Well, "teams that play that style" aren't going away. Lowell is a pretty likely regional opponent. Notre Dame is a pretty likely *next* opponent.

I agree with you, though. BC's offense is too good to really be worried about a couple of mediocre performances.

GS: It's like we've been saying, we're so strong everywhere that if a team is able to succeed against one thing, our other strengths are able to win games (or at least give us a chance to win games). Our defense has been really, really good. And Demko.

JG: Well, yes. That's exactly right. BC gave up two goals on Saturday and frankly didn't give up very many grade A chances (not that ND looks to create very many.) The week before BC mostly stifled a Lowell team that has some pop to go with their solid D. The defense is mostly in a pretty solid groove right now.

I was not really happy with the "compete level" (TM) BC had in the early stages against Notre Dame, but as I stated over the weekend, you mostly need to give credit to ND for coming in and asserting their game plan and getting the job done. But if you're not going to beat the trap with quick, tape-to-tape passing you are well served by trying to lay the lumber and inject physicality in the game, which didn't really happen.

GS: Well, to that point -- the tape to tape passing wasn't there on Saturday. It was bad. They seemed to have found the most incredible anti-chemistry ever within their own lines. It was like in Space Jam when the NBA players lost their powers. Every attempted pass was sailing past their teammate or flying into their skates, breaking their stride.

JG: Which is not something I expect to repeat itself, so no real worries here. I believe, and correct me if I'm wrong, that BC fell to 0-2 in 4:00 starts at home this season. So let's make that the scapegoat.

GS: Heh. Sample sizes! Those are fun.

I would go so far as to say that the disappearance of crisp passing was the ONLY reason we lost that game.

JG: That's not a ridiculous thing to say at all because it really is the key against trap teams. And again.... credit to ND for executing. They were certainly disruptive, which had a role.

GS: I never thought I would be happy to see a two week break. Perfect time to shake off any bad habits.

JG: Yeah, you're right. It's weird -- all year we've worried about the two week break messing up a team possibly on a roll going into the playoffs. But I think we can all be pretty happy about this break. I suspect the lineup will have considerably more offensive pop when next we see it.

Kevin Hayes might not be 100%... he now has two weeks to rest up.

Michael Matheson might not have been playing at 100% in his first game back... he has two weeks to rest up.

And we have two more weeks to beat our favorite lineup dead horses, yaaaaay!... but color me ready to be shocked (actually shocked, not shocked! shocked!) if Danny Linell isn't in for Destry Straight as a forward when BC takes the ice for the start of the playoffs.

GS: Oh, Jesus, who the Christ knows at this point.

I'd like to see Pirate Jerry throw us a total frigging curveball and give us a Linell-Richardson-Spiro line. Or something. I realize those ships have respectively sailed. My point is it would be so totally out there that if I saw it I'd be like "OF COURSE, why didn't we see it coming!"

JG: Well, we can rest assured that if that's what rolls out next Friday, they'll probably score a pair of goals.

I do find it interesting that we've seen some rotating and experimenting at the bottom of the lineup in the last couple of weeks. The expectation in October was that we'd see a little of that early in the year before settling into a rhythm down the stretch. Instead we basically saw the same lineup (save for injuries) every week. Now we've seen a few different experiments down the bottom of the lineup, including the insertion of one M. Gaudreau against Lowell. Still no love for Spiro, Richardson or Jeke, though.

GS: Pop quiz: Who scored our goal in the 6-1 disaster against Minnesota?

JG: Spiro?

GS: Richardson. He has two goals in 4 games.

JG: Well then. ... Yeah, I got nothin'.

We got people. In suits.

GS: Hell, even Peter McMullen has an assist in his only game. Granted, though, I probably would have had a point or two if you threw me into that Army game.

It's the Jerry York way to have some of the best college hockey players in the country look all dapper wearing a jacket and tie during hockey games.

JG: So the #Octofinals get underway tomorrow night. I will have a Thoughts and Predictions Post on the Octofinals up tomorrow and you folks who still have dreams of winning the BCI Hockey Predictions Cup Thing and a guest appearance with New Guy on BCI Radio best make your picks.

Three questions from a BC POV:

1) Which game is most likely to result in an upset?
2) Which opponent would be "best case scenario" for BC?
3) Is there any doubt Notre Dame is the "worst case scenario"?

GS: 1) Well, not to go the 'obvious' route, but 'obviously' BU/Notre Dame is the most likely upset. Especially since BU just swept Northeastern. #CantPredictPuck

2) Best case scenario is probably BU honestly. They suck. I know I just mentioned them sweeping NU. Whatever. They suck. And the team would be up to play them. I'd rather not play a newly-Vatrano'd UMass, as little I think that will actually affect them.

3) Worst case scenario would normally be Notre Dame, since, well, they just beat us, and their hockey is really boring. But since 2 more wins against them could help us pass Minnesota... I guess my answer will depend on if Michigan can take a game or two from the Gophers this week. If so, then Notre Dame is not a worst case scenario. In that case it would probably be, like, Merrimack, because we are more likely to have players come out of that series injured.

JG: Oh yes. I actually agree with you re: BU. Not only would BC be facing a team that sucks, they also would be facing a team that would certainly get their dander up after the week off.

I really don't want to sit through 2-3 more games of that crap we watched on Saturday so I'd rather pass on Notre Dame, even if I do still think BC would take the series.

The most likely upset, to me, is UMass over Vermont... but I'd still call it unlikely.

Those bottom three teams are tough. But this is hockey we're talking about, so I betcha one of them will pull it out.

GS: I don't know, Vermont is pretty decent. Has UMass even done anything lately? I feel like we finished with them so early that I forgot they even existed.

JG: No, not really. But Merrimack is terrible, Alfond is a fortress*, BU is terrible, and you can make the case for Notre Dame as a top 4 team in the league despite their 8 seed.

*Though, Maine did just lose two at the Alfond last week. So basically, hockey.

The women's team heads to Hyannis this weekend for the Hockey East tournament semifinals and, for the love of God, hopefully the finals. A loss on Saturday and this late-season miracle push toward a possible home ice spot in the NCAAs will Catamount to nothing. (Well, not really, but I had to push the Catamounts-to-nothing joke in there somewhere.)

GS: HA. That was well done.

JG: BC should very definitely win this tournament, yeah?

GS: Yes. Although I'm a bit worried about playing Northeastern, seeing as how I'm pretty sure we're the only team to have beaten them since Christmas break. But we have looked REALLY, really good against them and BU this year. It should be ours.

It's really crazy, after all of our (or, my) THE SKY IS FALLING depression in the middle of the season, thinking that we didn't even have a shot at the tournament, that now we're talking about *probably* -- not even 'possibly' at this point -- hosting a quarterfinal.

JG: Well, when BC played Northeastern in the women's Beanpot final, the Huskies were well into their calendar-year-2014 hot streak, and the Eagles whitewashed them. It was really no contest.

So BC should win. The expectations gauntlet is laid down. Though, as someone pointed out on USCHO, today's Bizzar(i) stat of the day: BCWH has more Frozen Four appearances (4) than Hockey East tournament final appearances (3), let alone Hockey East final wins (1).

Crazy. BC always seems to cough up a hairball on the Saturday of the HEA tourney.

GS: I thought about that stat a bit, and I think it has more to do with the fact that UNH was a dominant program for so many years.

Considering that we have *never* been the #1 seed in the Hockey East tournament before this year, it's much less of a shocking stat.

JG: Shenanigans, though, because three of the Frozen Fours and, what, 1 of the HEA finals have happened since UNH fell off the map.

GS: *Opens mouth* *closes mouth* ... Okay, I've got nothing for that.

JG: Yeah.

It's strange. I don't really know how to explain it, because the quality of opponents BC has beaten to make the FF (Dartmouth, Minnesota, Harvard, St. Lawrence) tends to be much better than some of the teams that have TKO'd them a week prior at this stage (Providence and Northeastern, off the top of my head). Let's hope that trend is broken Saturday and BC makes the 19-hour ride home from Hyannis on Sunday night with the trophy.

GS: And with the trophy, home ice -- we need a little help (Harvard or Cornell winning the ECAC title would probably keep us 5th, though passing Wisconsin or Clarkson isn't *entirely* out of the question), but given the tournament favorites, I think it's more likely than not that we have a game at Conte next weekend.

JG: And I look forward to hopefully discussing that with you next week.

GS: I know, I keep getting ahead of myself. Gotta take care of business first.

JG: Check back later today for a SPECIAL BONUS EDITION about the Hobey Baker award. Some good discussion; you won't want to miss it.

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