It was another game that could have ended very badly, but at last, BC managed to pull off a weekend sweep for the first time in months.
It's about time we got a few of these close games to go our way. To be fair, BC has been playing much better of late. We didn't play badly against Maine. We had some issues, but had a chance to win both games. We played rather well in both UNH games as well. In a way, the weekends were very similar -- except for the fact that we came out on top this time.
BC once again had Parker Milner in net. He definitely looked better than he did the night before. Let's chalk it up to not having seen the ice in weeks. To be fair, it's also pretty easy to fall asleep a bit when you only face 13 shots or so in a game. Tonight, with the open ice up at UNH's Olympic-sized sheet, UNH got off 33 shots and Milner stopped 31 one of them. Clearly, Milner had a better night. I still have a problem with his positioning (he's no Tim Thomas), and I'm still on the Billet Bandwagon, but I really cannot complain about Milner's game last night.
There was significant improvement in a few areas of concern this weekend. First, the team is doing much, much better getting the puck into the offensive zone. I've noticed a lot of lateral movement going across the line to open up some space for the trailers. It has worked very well. Second, where are all the odd-man rushes that have been killing us the last few months? I could be wrong but I don't think I recall a single clean breakaway or clear 2-on-1 on the entire weekend. This cannot be understated. Our defense has tightened down in general, but when you aren't allowing multiple high-percentage opportunities, that is a clear recipe for success.
Something needs to be said about Chris Kreider. The New York Rangers have to be absolutely salivating at the thought of him going pro, and if I ever have a single opportunity to watch him play for the Connecticut Whale in the AHL, I would be shocked. It's like the dude finally just got sick of losing and said "eff all y'all, I got this." He scored again tonight and assisted on the game winner in overtime. But let's just forget about the goals... the man is playing like he's an NHL vet tooling around on the pond with some kids. At one point I think Gaudreau kept feeding him pucks on the point and he was teeing off like Chara in the skills competition. We need this -- someone to put the team on his back a la Gerbe in '08 to carry us deep into the tournament when we aren't running teams into the ground on a consistent basis.
College hockey is not only weak this year, but it is also incredibly tight. As I write this, BC is tied for 5th in the Pairwise Rankings (4th in RPI, for what it's worth) only .0049 (!) behind first place. College hockey is extremely volatile, and through the entire year, it has seemed like no one has wanted to grab the bull by the horns and pull away. Any form of a win streak could very well vault BC right up to #1 overall.
Also worth noting - Hockey East currently boasts three teams in the top 5 and five teams in the top 11 of the Pairwise. What?? So much for it being a down year for Hockey East. As they sit, BU is 2nd (and primed for a collapse after losing another player long term, as Priviteta is out 6 weeks with, unfortunately, a broken wrist), UML is 3rd (spit-take), BC 5th, Merrimack 8th, and Maine 11th.
BC's next game is the Beanpot opener against a Northeastern team that, prior to curb-stomping Vermont twice this weekend, had lost 4 in a row. Northeastern always plays BC very tough (I've lost track of how many classics we've played against them since my freshman year in '06-'07) so BC is going to need to continue the improvement to get the the Beanpot final.