The last time Boston College faced Boston University, BC was smack dab in the middle of the most difficult stretch of their season: a two week span that has defined their season so far and kept them in a hole in the Pairwise Rankings. The Eagles were coming off two straight losses—a gutting overtime loss to Denver, followed by a stunning 1-0 defeat at UConn on a Wednesday night. They had just lost Steve Santini to injury as well, and were adjusting to life without their best defender.
In spite of the negativity surrounding the team at that time, BC actually went on to play pretty well against a BU team that at that point was red hot. But they couldn't hold on to a lead they held for much of the game, fading in the third period thanks to a combination of bad bounces and bad turnovers. Jack Eichel's goal at 12:15 of the third period, and a weird, fluky goal by Evan Rodrigues two minutes later, sunk BC; a late empty netter made it 5-3, and BC was suddenly looking at a three game losing streak.
It's been over two months since that game and in some ways BC is still trying to undo the damage. The Eagles have improved greatly since early November, but the climb up the Pairwise rankings is painfully slow when trying to dig out of the kind of hole BC was in.
The #1 thing holding BC back right now is no small matter: they haven't really beaten any top contenders yet, even through their stretch of improved play. BC is 2-6 against teams in the top 20 of the Pairwise rankings, and 10-1-2 against the bottom 39. The two wins were over Denver (#17) and Michigan (#19). A victory over BU (#8) would represent BC's most important and PWR-meaningful victory of the season. But it won't be easy.
BC traditionally plays well at Agganis Arena, but then again, this isn't really a traditional BC team. We're used to seeing BC fly around the ice and post gigantic crooked numbers on the Agganis Arena scoreboard. That's not really this team's style. They're more apt to win by playing conservatively and grinding out a result (and relying on some big saves by Thatcher Demko).
Steve Santini is back in the lineup and hopefully Ian McCoshen returns as well after missing Saturday's game with an injury. With BC finally at full strength, there would be no better time for the Eagles to put forth their best performance of the season.
We'll be here to talk about it all week, starting with tonight's live BCI Radio/Eastern Bias mashup at 8 PM, allowing you to call in and talk hockey with BC and BU bloggers alike. We'll have the usual Hockey Banter, and discuss what the BC lineup might look like at full strength with McCoshen back, and take a look at the Pairwise Rankings. Then we'll be back on Friday to make our predictions for BU and Maine.