The Boston College men’s hockey team played their first repeat opponent of the season this past weekend, playing UConn for the third and fourth times. The Huskies continued to be a thorn in BC’s side, knocking off BC in a shootout (that was recorded as a tie for Hockey East purposes) on Friday before the Eagles bounced back with a win on Saturday. There’s plenty to reflect on from these two games, so here are a few final thoughts from the weekend’s slate of games.
FOURTH LINE SAVES THE DAY
A huge shoutout to the fourth line of Danny Weight, Harrison Roy, and Casey Carreau that showed up big time in both games against UConn. Carreau had a goal and an assist in both games, Roy scored a goal in each game for the first two goals of his college career, and Weight chipped in an assist and would have had a goal of his own on Saturday if not for a save of the year candidate from UConn goalie Tomas Vomacka. The trio was responsible for four of the team’s seven goals from the series, and their contribution was a huge reason for this being a four point weekend for the team instead of an empty one.
Weight, Roy, and Carreau have been playing together for majority of the season, and they’ve really started to come into their own in the past few weekends. With some of the bigger names on the top lines struggling a bit to get on the scoreboard, it was the depth players that lead BC against UConn. That’s a great sign, and while counting on them to put up two goals a game is a bit much, it’s nice to see that they can step and and contribute in important situations.
It will be interesting to see if this line stays together when and if Alex Newhook returns to the team, or if someone has to slide down to be the thirteenth forward or comes out of the lineup entirely. Their recent strong play may make it a bit more difficult for Jerry York to decide.
POWER PLAY PROBLEMS CAN’T BE IGNORED
BC has done a lot of good things on the ice this year, but their power play has been absolutely terrible. After an 0-9 weekend on the man advantage, the Eagles are now just 4-for-46 on the season, clicking at an 8.6 percent clip.
On the one hand, it’s awfully impressive that BC can be where they are without any sort of power play success. Their 9-2-1 record is the best in Hockey East by points percentage and they’re still somehow averaging just under four goals per game. If the power play ever does start to click, things could get really fun with this team.
On the other hand, this is something that is costing BC wins and could continue to do so in the future. On Friday, BC had an extended five-on-three advantage while up 2-0 late in the second period. A goal could have just about put the game away, but the Eagles weren’t able to even get a great look on net and UConn came back with a three-goal third period to force overtime.
The most concerning part is that it’s not just one thing that’s off with the power play. The team struggles to gain the zone with any kind of consistency, and when it does, they never look that threatening. Puck movement feels slow and the shots that they do manage to take are often shots from low danger areas like the point with little to no traffic in front of the net.
Both broadcast teams this weekend made a point of how BC’s power play personnel looks very different than last year, and even recent additions to the team like Jack St. Ivany are getting accustomed to their roles on the man advantage. And that’s all true. But a team with this much talent simply cannot justify a power play that can’t even convert 10 percent of the time. This needs to start getting fixed in the coming weeks, or it could be a fatal flaw to an otherwise really strong team.
JACK McBAIN REMAINS SNAKEBITTEN
After jumping off to a great start with two goals in the season opener, Jack McBain hasn’t been able to find the back of the net again. In 12 games this season, McBain has two goals on 31 shots, a 6.5 percent shooting percentage. As a team, the Eagles are shooting at a 12.7 percent rate, good for almost double where McBain is at.
None of this is to say that McBain has been playing poorly since that season opener. In fact, he’s been a noticeable contributor just about every night, and his nine points still has him tied for fifth on the team in points. A lot of this feels a bit like the slump that Matt Boldy went through in the first half of last season, where he couldn’t buy a goal for the longest time before going on a scoring tear. McBain certainly has a plus shot (he scored on 13.3 of his shots last season) and he’s around the net all the time for BC. Hopefully he gets one soon and doesn’t look back from there.
PENALTY KILL REMAINS DANGEROUS
I think we all want BC to spend less time in the penalty box going forward, but man is it fun to watch when they’re shorthanded. Marc McLaughlin scored the team’s sixth shorthanded goal of the season on Saturday, finishing off a two-on-one play with Matt Boldy with ease.
Kind of a crazy stat through 12 games, but BC’s penalty kill is outscoring their power play 6-4 so far. BC is also only being outscored 8-6 while shorthanded. Hockey is a weird sport sometimes.