Hockey Banter, Week XXIII: Quarterfinal Predictions

via Graham Beck, BC Heights Sports

We quickly throw out out picks for the Hockey East quarterfinals, and briefly look at the women's hockey team's NCAA quarterfinal coming up on Saturday.

Joseph Gravellese: We got what we were looking for for the most part last weekend. Gaudreau broke out in a big way. And not coincidentally, it was a solid three point weekend that probably SHOULD have been a four point weekend, based on the flow of Friday's game. We didn't win the regular season title, but we got a pretty favorable seed for the playoffs. You couldn't have asked for too much more. And now the real work begins.

Grant Salzano: Absolutely. And you know what, good for Lowell. I have nothing but good things to say about that team.

Have to agree though. Vermont is a wayyyy better draw than Maine right now.

JG: Agreed all around. BC was fairly dominant at the Gutt. And we stand to be much healthier this weekend.

GS: I am probably overly excited about Patches coming back, but man am I happy to see that Patches is coming back.

Am I overstating how big it's going to be to have his consistent, experience play back on the blue line?

JG: I think just having him back will be such a morale boost. And if he can produce at 80% of the level he was at before he went out, he'll be a top 3 D man on the team, easily.

GS: York's quotes from the other day about Alber returning were telling. Jerry heaped praise on his his work ethic and enthusiasm. That's going to come in handy.

Also, given the minutes everyone's had to put in lately, just having a fresh pair of legs gives us something useful.

JG: Absolutely. One of our Brilliant Readers pointed out last week that we should be helped by having TV timeouts starting next weekend (knock on wood if we make it there)... I don't think any of our games this weekend are on TV though. Fatigue has to be a factor.

Let's turn our gaze toward the playoffs.

1) Lowell, coming off their first regular season title despite a bit of a scare against Providence, faces 8) Maine, who just took three points at UNH.

Lowell is still one of the nation's hottest teams, but they seemed to really freeze up in the moment last weekend, getting clobbered at home by Providence and being tied 1-1 into the 3rd period in the de facto title game.

I wouldn't be surprised if they have another Freeze Up in the Moment incident... but if it happens it'll be at the Garden. They'll beat Maine, though the Black Bears are certainly playing better hockey as of late.

GS: This seems like a pretty easy "Lowell in 3" pick, no? Lowell is a really good team, but Maine has been playing good enough hockey to put a scare into them I'd think...

JG: That sounds right. Of course I also said UNH would sweep Maine. So.

2) BC vs. 7) Vermont. BC for the sweep?

GS: Absolutely. Everyone's rainbows and butterflies right now. The good times will roll. The biggest reason is probably Gaudreau's monster weekend that single-handedly put him solidly back into contention for the Hobey Baker award, but the return of Alber is probably just as big a reason.

JG: Agreed. There are no secrets with these guys. We know what's up.

3) BU vs. 6) Merrimack. Now that's an interesting series.

GS: Absolutely. A battle of "who is failing the hardest"?

I already went on record saying that I think Merrimack will take this series -- but I'm going to go even further and call it a sweep. Everyone's talking about whether BU will fall out of NCAA tournament contention by sweeping Mack and dropping them from TUC status. To that I say -- it's not going to be a factor. BU had enough trouble with Vermont.

JG: I disagree entirely. I think BU rolls in this series. Merrimack hasn't won an away game since the Carter Administration. BU has been playing better the last couple of weeks. I wonder if maybe the players already knew about Parker.

Garrett Noonan going down will hurt BU but not enough to lose to Merrimack.

BC-BU semifinal. It's fate.

GS: Damn it.

JG: Yup.

4) Providence vs. 5) UNH. An intriguing matchup. Providence has the hot hand, and the hot goalie. DeSmith has DeSucked and UNH has had as weak a couple of months as we have.

I'll take the Friars.

Yeah, I just picked straight chalk. Oh well.

GS: I'm all over the Friars on this one too. I won't call it a sweep, though I had to think about it. Providence in 3.

It's pretty funny; it does appear that UNH is going into hiding now that tournament time is approaching, as the scriptures said they would.

JG: Hahaha.

I'm pretty excited for these playoffs. I'm going to Lowell vs. Maine at the Tsongas on Thursday night and hope a nice BC sweep lets me check out a Game 3 on Sunday.

GS: Those Game 3's when BC has already taken care of business are always fun. Similar to the second half of an NCAA regional semifinal when BC wins the first game.

JG: Yeah, always worth the trip for sure.

Any other thoughts as we look toward the postseason?

GS: It's just nice to have confidence in the team again. I admit to having my POSNAN confidence shaken the last few weeks. Nice to see the big guns, especially Johnny Hockey, show up in force.

It also doesn't hurt that he did this:

Click the photo for awesome animated gif-age

JG: That was, in fact, nice. May that be his Slovakia Moment.

GS: And God saw that it was good.

JG: It was another disappointing weekend for BC women's hockey; you said on Saturday that it felt like "the lost season" after Northeastern knocked BC out of the Hockey East tournament on Saturday in the semifinal round. (Effing BU went on to win.)

Going trophyless wouldn't erase all the good things BC accomplished this season. BUT... Going Trophyless and Frozen Four-less would come pretty close.

They've got to beat Harvard on Saturday. They've just got to.

GS: Before the Beanpot, it didn't even cross either of our minds that we could possibly go through the season without any hardware. But unfortunately that's what we're looking at.

A Frozen Four would be make this a far easier pill to swallow -- especially if an undefeated Minnesota team is who ends up knocking us out.

Harvard is a good team though. Really the worst draw we could have hoped for with the exception of North Dakota.

JG: Agreed. I can't say I'm feeling super-optimistic. But then again, BC came off a disappointing Hockey East tournament to win in the NCAA quarterfinals last year. Let's hope for a repeat.

GS: And it's not as though Harvard has been blowing opponents away lately. They are on a very similar run to us at the moment.

JG: I thought we were pretty definitively the better team in the Beanpot semifinal 2-1 win against Harvard, though we required some late-game dramatics to win.

I'm hoping for a nice, strong 4-2ish win on Saturday. That's what I'm predicting, also.

GS: I actually felt that Harvard put up a solid fight. They were a good team -- though yes, I think we have a talent edge in this game.

Fortunately we're home this time. I'm cautiously optimistic.

I don't think it will be comfortable, though. It's tough to put up a big number on that Harvard D.

JG: That's true. I might have to adjust that prediction. Weren't they averaging less than 1.5GA per game before the Beanpot? I haven't tracked them too closely since.

I do think BC gets the win, ultimately. They're too good to lose in this moment at home.

GS: Mostly it's just so unfathomable that we get nothing but the Connecticut Championship that it just physically, in the realm of space-time, cannot happen.

JG: Agreed.

GS: Well, check out my tournament preview for a more in depth look -- but I think that will just about wrap things up this week. Big weekend of hockey ahead.

JG: It's the most wonderful time of the year, even if it is the most nerve-wracking.

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