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Hockey Banter, Week III, Part 1: Outplayed By Northeastern

In part 1 of this week's installment of Hockey Banter, we take a look at what went wrong against Northeastern, how the rest of Hockey East fared in their first week, and get in our weekly BU penalty box joke.

Eric Kilby

Joseph Gravellese: Welcome to week three of the banter -- the first one with a full slate of games to discuss. Joining us this week is a special guest who graduated with us in 2010, who goes by the pseudonym "claver2010." You'll see him offering his insight on USCHO and EagleOutsider, while not revealing his true identity; he's kind of like Sasquatch, but way less creepy.

On Saturday night, BC was very much outplayed by a fired up Northeastern team, falling 3-1 in their season opener, although honestly it didn't even feel that close for most of the game. What happened? Are you guys concerned?

Claver2010: BC has a recent track record of slow starts at Matthews and Saturday was no different. I remember looking at the scoreboard and BC only had 2 shots in the first 10 minutes, and while shots aren't the best barometer, it wasn't BC hockey. After that, a series of missed opportunities and defensive lapses contributed to the season opening loss. Am I concerned? No, it's a long season, clearly there's a lot to work on but we've got a while to go.

Grant Salzano: Well in general... it was just lame. Mostly I think we were just outplayed. There are obviously the usually growing pains with young players and the lines are going to need to be tinkered with, but Northeastern just wanted it more.

JG: The trip to Matthews is always a challenge for BC, as it's such a huge game for Northeastern (players and fans). The last two years were an exception with BC pulling out tight wins at Matthews in October, but since the three of us came to BC in 2006 BC is under .500 on Huntington Ave.

GS: And something stupid usually happens. A few years ago it was the puddle on the ice. This year it was the shot from outside the blue line that Milner wasn't ready for. I think that was a result of lack of focus, but there you go.

JG: All kinds of issues, but as you noted in your game recap, one thing that stood out is that we didn't appear threatening whenever Gaudreau wasn't on the ice. The third line (Smith, Sit, Linell) put in a workmanlike performance but they weren't really getting good scoring chances. Do you think York tries to let things develop as they are or will he make a change?

GS: I think you might see York stick with what we have for a little bit but the tinkering will eventually happen. He likes to mess with lines and then usually finds what's best later on. That's part of why it's so hard to take stock in what you see this early in the season.

C2: Clearly the first line of Gaudreau-Mullane-Whitney has the skill to be a typical BC first line. However, after that there are a decent amount of questions. I think he should change it up as the others find their groove. But I agree with Grant, it would be a highly reactionary move, atypical of York with only a 1 game sample size.

JG: And BC and NU fans seem to agree that Northeastern was noticeably quicker to loose pucks, and much more assertive physically. Do we attribute that to it being BC's first game, while Northeastern had a competitive game under its belt? The effect of the home crowd? BC reading into its own press clippings a little bit and needing a little wake-up call?

C2: I think your first point was excellent. NU already had their legs under them with the midweek game against Merrimack, which attributed to BC's slow start. The reality is right now we have players who are in roles where more is expected of them than in the past, specifically the 3rd & 4th lines. There is going to be some adjustment.

JG: And the entire defense corps is re-vamped, with Wey and Alber serving as anchors after being very effective in complementary roles. Matheson (despite a bunch of penalty minutes) and Doherty have acquited themselves well so far and were bright spots on Saturday. I expect Matheson to hit the scoresheet at some point this weekend.

GS: Matheson is ridiculous. He seems incredibly strong. His chokeslam of the UNB guy a couple weeks ago was, I think, just the beginning.

C2: Based on your write ups it sounds like it'll take him some time to adjust to the glorious Hockey East officiating, but there is no doubt he belongs & York trusts him.

JG: Ha, and I guess we do need a new penalty box magnet.

GS: BU fans are going to hate him so freaking much. I love him already.

JG: Speaking of past penalty minutes leaders, Steve Whitney had a really good game on Saturday night, especially with not taking penalties. And his powerplay goal was sweet. He looks ready to step up this year.

GS: I've been saying it for a couple years now, so hopefully that's going to be the case. Whenever I want to see how good he can be I think back to that shorty he had against BU at Conte 2 years ago. Breakaway, little shimmy to move Millan to one side, and popped it right in. Too easy.

C2: A characteristic of every recent BC championship team has been seniors stepping up, he looks like a great candidate to do so.

GS: I honestly can't even believe he's a senior. Maybe it's because he's so wittle...

JG: So I guess we're pretty much in agreement that it's going to be important to see how guys develop into their new roles before we can make any judgments about this team -- thus, we're not overly worried about week one.

Now as for Northeastern, they had a hell of a first week. First they knocked off Merrimack (granted, a Merrimack team I expect to sink this year) and then they beat us pretty comprehensively. Roy looks like the real deal. And I think all three of their goals on Saturday were scored by freshmen. Well then...

It's nuts, by the way, that Kevin Roy was previously committed to Brown. BROWN! That's crazy. Imagining him playing at Brown is like imagining... well, Gaudreau at Northeastern.

C2: No question. Madigan appears to have brought in some impressive talent. The issue with them will always be which Rawlings shows up. On a side note, how does he still have eligibility?

GS: I thought the Merrimack game was a "bad win" for them. They almost completely collapsed upon themselves after opening up a big lead. Having said that... there's no doubt they took us to school. They can't physically play with that intensity for a full season, they would probably all die like two month's in. But looks like they have some talent. Who knew?

JG: Well I think everyone knew they had talent. If you look at my entry from Buy or Sell before the season, I said, they have talent. But will they put it together as a team? They've done so in week one, but Northeastern teams in the past have withered when having to a) go on the road or b) keep up a certain level of consistency when they're not playing BC or BU at home.

C2: Agreed. Despite BC being 8-2-1 against NU in the last 11, outside of last year's Beanpot many have been very competitive and they clearly bring it against BU every time as well. The parity (or mediocrity) of Hockey East leaves some home ice spots there for the taking, it'll be interesting to see how NU progresses throughout the year.

GS: I'll freely admit I kind of had them for dead this year. Oops. It was one game but that appears to not be the case. They still have a good chance to royally Northeastern this season though.

JG: Elsewhere around Hockey East, the biggest surprise was probably UVM tying UMass-Lowell in Lowell on Friday night. WTF? Obviously the game wasn't televised so we won't have too much to talk about regarding Lowell yet, but a storyline to follow will be how they deal with heightened expectations.

GS: I refuse to look at that game as anything other than a one game anomaly. It's so against what you would expect that I just can't see it actually having anything to do with the reality of how good either of those teams are.

C2: It will be interesting. Also, nice to see future Hockey East member UConn get destroyed by a perennial bottom feeder UMass. Seems like a great addition to the conference!

GS: Is it too late to add RIT instead?

JG: Ha. That would be great. RIT beat Michigan in the first game of a two game set over the weekend, but Michigan responded and routed RIT in Game 2... I agree, RIT would be much more fun than adding UConn. Oh well.

BU beat Providence. Nobody cares, right?

C2: Nope.

GS: BU gives new meaning to spending two minutes in the penalty box for roughing.

JG: I knew there would be a penalty box joke coming. That will get old eventually.

GS: It most certainly will not.

C2: Well it won't be old until their next scandal, which is never too far away.

JG: Heh.

Stop by tomorrow for part 2, where we discuss polls (which totally matter), make fun of Northeastern some more, and make some more bad predictions.