Next man up. That was the motto when Brendan Silk went down with an injury early in the season. That was the motto when Jeremy Bracco departed for Canada. And that has to be the mentality now that top-line winger Chris Calnan is out for an extended period of time with an upper body injury. The Eagles will need to make do for at least the next couple of months.
It starts tonight in Hartford, where BC will take on a UConn team that is struggling to find its legs so far in Year 2 in Hockey East, but will undoubtedly bring their A game tonight against the Eagles. Both games against UConn were battles last year. Can BC pull off a win tonight and extend their winning streak to 10?
Boston College Eagles (10-1-0) at University of Connecticut Huskies (3-9-0)
Tuesday, November 24, 2015, 7:05 PM, XL Center, Hartford, Conn.
Pairwise: BC #5, UC #52
Team Offense: BC #2 (4.36 goals per game)... UC #38 (2.50 goals per game)
Team Defense: BC #1 (1.18 goals allowed per game)... UC #52 (3.58 goals allowed per game)
#icebus?: The story about UConn last year was that they couldn't score at all, but good luck scoring against them - especially if UConn managed to take an early lead (see: last year's BC game at the XL Center, a 1-0 Eagle loss after an early goal by Evan Richardson). That script has flipped a bit for the Huskies this season. As expected, their offense is better than it was last year; not great by any stretch of the imagination, but somewhere around the national average, with new additions like Max Letunov and Tage Thompson joining Spencer Naas as solid scoring threats. On the flip side, though, the Huskies just can't keep the puck out of their own net. The magic has faded for goalie Rob Nichols, who was playing some out-of-his-mind hockey for much of last season; right now, he's below a .900 save percentage on the year. #icebus will probably need to go back to doing #icebus things to beat the Eagles, who have pretty consistently hit the 30 shot mark (9 out of 11 games). If BC scores on 10% of their shots (their current sh% for the year is 12.7%) you're looking at UConn having to score 4 goals to win... so they're going to be looking for better defense and goaltending.
Dynamic freshmen for UConn: The good news if you're a UConn hockey fan is that the limited success the team has found this season has been on the back of some exciting young players. The aforementioned Letunov (a BU decommit) and Thompson (elite recruit) are UConn's two leading scorers. 5 out of the top 6 and 6 out of top 8 in scoring for UConn are freshmen or sophomores.
Who replaces Calnan?: As we discussed yesterday, it's likely that Chris Brown slides into a top-9 forward role for the time being, as he did when Calnan missed a game earlier this year due to illness. But does Jerry York just plug Brown in to Calnan's wing spot alongside Cangelosi and Wood, or does he try to re-tool that first line with another big weapon and backfill with Brown? He's got some options.
Defense back on the horse: Thatcher Demko and the BC defense probably aren't happy about the fact that the Eagles have given up 4 and 3 goals in their last two games after that stretch of 6 shutouts in 7 games. We'll see if the Eagles can bring back the defensive form that served them will a few weeks back and shut down the UConn offense.
Scrum-ptious: BC has not been shy about getting in to extracurricular activity in front of their net if they feel like opposing players are taking liberties with Thatcher Demko. (And in other circumstances, too...) It'll be interesting to see if that remains true or if Calnan's injury changes that at all.
Obligatory Game Day GIF/Video
Ryan Fitzgerald's game-winning, hat-trick-clinching goal against UConn this past January marked the first time in the 98 year history of the Boston College hockey program that they ever lead against #icebus. Truly, a historic moment.
The Pre-Game Watering Hole
Despite being a mall, there is no food court at the XL Center with bourbon chicken or anything like that. But Hartford is a city (really!) so there are options. Bear's Smokehouse BBQ in Hartford (89 Arch St.) is about 3/4 of a mile from the XL Center and was described by the New York Times as being a slice of top notch Kansas City BBQ right here in the northeast. Sounds good to me.
#CATPREDICTIONS, By The Cats Of The Gifford Cat Shelter
"Since I was betrayed by my cat last time BC had a Tuesday night game (when she picked UMass to beat BC), I decided she deserved a chance to prove herself for the next Tuesday night game.
Coffee is a Gifford alumna who should be very loyal to BC by virtue of being my cat. Coffee fact: Her ears are tiny because she got frostbite as a stray in Dorchester. She is very hardcore.
I was worried that Coffee would pick UConn just to show me that I can't control her. Coffee quickly walked over to the BC treat, but she thought for a little bit before making her final decision. I think she is pretty confident BC will win, but had to consider the fact that Calnan is a big loss for the Eagles.
Coffee is predicting a final score of 4-2 BC.
You can visit Coffee's friends at The Gifford Cat Shelter, located right across from BC at 30 Undine Road in Brighton. Founded in 1884, it is the oldest no kill and cageless shelter in the U.S. More information is available at http://www.giffordcatshelter.org/.
The Last Word
BC 3, UConn 0.
I would be really nervous about this game - for the same reasons I was nervous about last year's game at Hartford - if UConn wasn't playing such dreadful hockey these past few weeks. But they are. They got shellacked by Quinnipiac (granted, a very good QPac team). They got shut out by Army (!). They got swept by UMass. Their last win was... er, a Tuesday night game against traditional power BU... er, um, OK I guess I'm still a little nervous about this one. But anyway, I do think the Eagles win tonight.
There were some shakeups in the contest over the weekend after BC won by 3 (6-3 was your final). Joe correctly picked a 3 goal spread (picking 5-2), which pulled him in to a first place tie with Grant, while Laura is just a point behind them both. Sawyer the Cat also picked a three-goal BC win which means Team Cat is just one point behind AJ, New Guy and Coach for a spot in the Top 5. Things are heating up.
Scoring rules if you'd like to play along at home:
Predict the correct winner: 1 point
Get the margin of victory right: 2 points
Nail the correct final score: 3 points
|With UConn struggling, I think BC wins this one, but they certainly won't be able to take it lightly.
"This isn't going to be close," says Grant.
He certainly hopes not, anyway. He'll be in attendance at the XL and hearing about it at work if he's wrong.
||After picking a tie against UNH, AJ is back on board with picking an Eagle victory tonight.
"3-3 tie, because I have no idea why."
New Guy will be in the booth as his Bentley Falcons look to knock off BU tonight.
|Bailin's not too far off the leader's pace but could use a big week.
||"Losing Calnan is a blow to our offense, but BC is a significantly better team."
Laura will be doing the live updates for tonight's game on BCI.
|Something just tells me, Yukon shows up at home tomorrow night. This one will always mean a lot to Cavanaugh.
|"Avenge the field hockey team!"
|Coffee the Cat/ Gifford Cat Shelter||
(*That translates to human as "Sorry about picking UMass the last time, that was a momentary lapse of judgement)
||If you didn't submit a prediction this week, you're picking NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell
Staff Prediction Summary:
BC (8) - UConn (0) - Tie (1)
Fan Prediction Standings after last week:
Congrats to airforce, princisb, seobe, totheheights, and pjpj23 for all correctly picking 3-goal BC wins for two points each. bostoncollegenyr, SpillerHighLife, we are BC, and JPDot all picked up a point each for picking an Eagle win. JPDot retains a one point lead overall over airforce987 and princisb.
mig1168 6 points
princisb 11 points
airforce987 11 points
cam_dezak 8 points
JPDot 12 points
b0mberman 4 point
bostoncollegenyr 10 points
bcmurt09 4 points
tommykay 3 points
we are bc 5 points
bcmike22 4 points
pjpj23 7 points
seobe 8 points
95dougie95 5 points
rmbc81 1 point
totheheights 2 points
spillerhighlife 1 point
Leave your thoughts and predictions on the game below... will BC pick up their first win against UConn at the XL Center?