Joseph Gravellese: Hello and welcome to this week's oh-my-god-we-got-swept-by-Maine,what-meaning-does-life-even-have? edition of the weekly Hockey Banter. Joining us this week is a special guest and fellow 2010 BC alum, Amy Calhoun - @acal6888 on the Twitter machine. For those who don't follow her -- if you like Grant's and my snarkiness and general hatred toward all teams that are not BC or the Bruins, you'll really enjoy her feed. And with that put out there, we shall begin.
So, we got swept by Maine. And we can talk about the hockey implications of this shortly, but can I first say, it's making me existential. I kind of wish I'd paid more attention in my core philosophy class.
Grant Salzano: The Slump can make one really start to think deeply about life's meaning. What is real? Is anything real? Is Lennay Kekua not-not real?
JG: I know you predicted BC would somehow lose one of those games, but never would I EVER have thought we could get swept by that team. Let's give Omelette credit for some solid goaltending, but Maine is TERRIBLE.
I don't care how much of a POSNAN you are -- you must be concerned, at least to some degree, by what you watched last weekend.
GS: I'm really not.
I'm more concerned with injuries than getting swept by Maine.
Amy Calhoun: I know I'm more concerned than Grant. But disclaimer, I'm a huge pessimist.
JG: This is why we figured we'd have you join the Banter ... Grant and I tend to agree a lot.
GS: Yeah it's too much of a bromance up in here.
I thought we played Slump Hockey. It didn't concern me in the slightest. I've gotten myself worked up every single year and last year I promised myself I wouldn't. So I'm not. It's the exactttttt same thing as every year.
JG: Do you really think so, though? Obviously this is rock bottom and things should get better. But do you tihnk it's the same as every year? Looking at the roster, do you think this team just flips a switch and is Frozen Four caliber?
I'm not saying it's not possible -- but I'm worried.
GS: Every year it looks like we're incapable of flipping a switch and then the switch is flipped. But yes. I do think we will
. AC: In previous years, we've rolled at east 3, usually 4 lines that can score regularly, and I dont see more than 2, (more like 1.66) lines that produce.
JG: Basically we need Gaudreau to be Lionel Messi. Which is possible. But I don't see the bottom 6 getting any better than it is now. And if the defense doesn't get healthy, forget about it.
AC: At least Messi has like 8 guys from the Spanish national team to play with.
I actually agree with what The Kid has been saying on twitter.
GS: The Kid will make a great politician someday. His opinion on BC's destiny changes with how well we played in our last game.
No disrespect; I think he's awesome. What's up, The Kid?
What we really need to do is stop hoping this team is going to become something it's not. I think it was Joe who said it earlier this year -- there's no reason BC can't be successful playing a different brand of hockey.
JG: One thing I will say that's positive from the weekend: Steven Whitney played well on defense. I know you don't want to mess with the scoring lines but Whitney would have probably been a better call than Brooks on D when the need arose.
AC: I think I would pin the first goal Saturday on Stevie, but overall, yeah he's a solid option. But our productivity on offense goes down without him up there.
JG: I love Dyroff, obviously, and think he's been quite good as a forward this year, but he's really struggled on D. Which is understandable.
GS: Yeah the defense was fine this weekend. It wasn't why we lost. And honestly despite the lack of goals the offense wasn't completely useless. I lost track of how many offensive chances we were unable to bury.
Especially on the shorthand, which was refreshing.
JG: Evidently Matheson is ready to go this weekend. ANd hopefully it can be a positive all around --- maybe he had a few weeks to kind of figure out why he kept getting ejected, and comes back better than ever. We can hope, anyway.
Sullivan was struggling a bit before his injury but we just need warm bodies on D at this point.
GS: Matheson is extremely important to this team because of the lack of scoring ability on the bottom lines. We need all the points we can get from the blue line.
AC: I like how the freshmen have been playing. Canadian Ginger especially.
JG: Yes, it will be good to have Canadian Ginger back. He adds an element that we're lacking... the puck-moving defenseman, kehd.
AC: Other than Mattheson, I really like Teddy the best. And Jeke has been a pleasant surprise to me.
GS: Jeke has really stood out to me lately. Even on my grainy BCEagles.com internet feed I've been forced to watch on, you can tell he's making an impact.
JG: Absolutely. Jeke deserved a big shoutout last weekend but it kind of got drowned in the mailbag. He's been clutch -- without him emerging we'd be in even bigger trouble.
The bottom line for me is that this team will obviously improve. There's no way for them NOT to play better than they did last weekend. And we saw what kind of game they're capable of against UNH not too long ago and BU the month before that. BUT I think anyone who's expecting the switch to flip the exact same way it did last year is probably going to end up disappointed.
Every piece of silverware - from the Beanpot, to the regular season title, to Hockey East and NCAAs - is going to require a white-knuckle effort by BC, I think. It's going to be a grind.
GS: You said that last year.
And the year before, and the year before, and the year before, and the year before.
JG: I did say that last year.
But I'm still saying it again. I'm sticking by it, and hoping to be wrong.
GS: I distinctly remember us walking through the Dustbowl (may it rest in peace) in 2008 and you were so doom and gloom you thought we'd miss the NCAAs.
JG: I, in fact, remember that conversation VERY well. I didn't think we'd miss NCAAs, but I DID say "we are never going to see BC win a championship in anything, man."
That was after we lost to UNH in a big home game late that season.
We've been using 2008 as a template for this team from the beginning, so maybe it happens again.
GS: 2008 is definitely the template for this team. Ride that superstar all the way to the hardware, baby.
AC: I just don't see it happening perfectly again.
GS: I don't think BC will end the season on a perfect 19-0 run like last year... though if it were to happen, it would start Friday.
JG: This is definitely the time to make a move. Vermont, then Harvard. Really should win these two games. They should have beaten Maine, too, but yeah.
AC: If we dont start now, we don't win 4 trophies.
GS: I was always more worried about Maine than Vermont. And Harvard is running out of eligible players honestly. I believe they've had to bring up multiple guys from the club team.
AC: If we dont start now, we don't win 4 trophies.
JG: Any thoughts on the wide world of college hockey outside of BC this past weekend?
AC: I was too mad about our games, I didn't pay attention to any others.
JG: One thing worth noting is that the split with Merrimack only furthered UNH's little recent nosedive, Goumas-style. They might stumble enough to let us maintain first place even before the "switch flips on."
GS: BC should tank more often. We went from a Bracketology of like BC-NoDak-Notre Dame-Miami or something in Toledo to UNH-BC-Alaska-Darmouth in Manchester. LOL YES PLZ
JG: Poor Northeastern just finds ways to blow it every time they have a chance to win.
You would think they would be able to just drag some mediocre goaltender out of some beer league in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan who would be better than what they have now.
GS: They have a guy named Mountain though, so that's something.
AC: Their goalies have such great chanting names.
JG: They really do. RAWlings, MOUNtain...WITT! (Do they still have Witt?)
Really quickly, before we move on to Beanpot Talk: predictions for the UVM game?
I'm going to say BC eekes one out in a sleepy game... 2-1.
GS: BC will handle Vermont. There won't be much stress in that game. Also, Gaudreau gets back on track. He was EVERYWHERE against Maine except the back of the net.
AC: I'm going 3-0.
GS: I'll call it 5-1. BOLD! Everyone goes home happy.
JG: Let's hope you're right.
Okay, so. The Beanpot. Obviously, always a highlight each year, and even moreso because many fans are looking at this as a harbinger of things to come, hoping these games bring out a better BC than we've seen in recent weeks.
How are we feeling about the Beanpot overall? Let's talk: predictions for both weeks, predictions on weird things that might happen (since something weird ALWAYS happens in the beanpot), and keys/thoughts on the matchups?
GS: I'm feeling good. We got the bye (seriously, Harvard is in total disarray right now) and then Gaudreau on the big stage again for the first time since The Goal? *Swoon*
Weird thing that will happen... Hm... *BU* is going to get a goal waved off. CURVEBALL!
JG: To run down my predictions: BU-NU is going to be a really fun game. It always is, even in front of the surreal backdrop of an empty Garden for the 5 PM game. I wish I could honestly predict a BU loss, but I can't. Northeastern is that splendid combination of bad and extremely un-clutch. BU wins a close one and more NU hearts are broken.
BC should handle Harvard, honestly. Like Grant said, they're really in rough shape right now. I think it'll be one of those games BC controls even though the score will be close.
And so it'll be BC-BU again. And I don't feel comfortable making a prediction on that until I see how BC looks in the next couple of games. I can comfortably predict that NU fans will drink heavily and Harvard fans will continue to not care.
AC: I'm actually nervous for the Harvard game.....
JG: I can see why, honestly. With the way we're playing, and with the talent Harvard has, despite their poor results as of late.
AC: It's not that I expect them to take Harvard lightly, becuase Jerry York is God, but I guess I just have a bad feeling. they beat BU, and that alone coud give them a bunch of confidence going into it.
JG: The Eagles obviously can't sleep on Harvard. They have a lot of good players -- most notably, Jimmy Vesey, of course, who starred for the US in the WJC.
AC: Do you think we'll actually lose?
JG: No, I just think there's reason to be nervous. I'd be shocked if we lost though, honestly.
AC: No. But I think we could lose.
GS: We could obviously lose to BU. Which would be alllllllllllllll of the lamesauce. In which case I would feel significantly less bad not going.
AC: And we don't know how the freshmen defenders are gonna fare on the big stage. They didnt exactly live up to the task in Minnesota.
JG: This is true.
Weird thing that will happen, btw: double game DQs in the BU-Northeastern game for a near-brawl, instigated by Puckstar.
Widening the angle a little bit, let's discuss the Beanpot more broadly. What does the Beanpot mean to you, as a fan?
To me, the Beanpot is: the best Mondays of the year. An incredible tradition that I've loved since my childhood. And, consistently, some of the best and most intense hockey you'll see all year.
That being said, success or failure in the Beanpot does not a successful(/unsuccessful) season make.
GS: I've been struggling with this philosophically lately. I've come to call the Beanpot my favorite sporting event of the year. But at the same time, I recognize it's relative importance in the context of the season.
JG: Precisely. Obviously it's not a coincidence that we've won the Beanpot in all of our National Title years. It's a harbinger of things to come under the bright lights.
GS: I went through college constantly hearing about how the Beanpot was EVERYTHING to BU students. I didn't want to become That.
But I think the difference is that BU fans truly do judge a season based on their success in the Beanpot.
Didn't they chant "Thank You Seniors" at the Beanpot a few years back? Like, what?
JG: Yes they did.
GS: Winning or losing the Beanpot has literally no bearing on whether our season is a success.
Winning the Beanpot is about sticking it to the Terriers, which is simply glorious. But sticking it to the Terriers is not why BC steps onto the ice every week. If that makes sense.
JG: It does.
AC: I've only been to Beanpots that we've won. And I would love if the BU seniors graduated without a Beanpot in their 4 years.
JG: I AM more pumped than usual from a wanting-BC-to-win standpoint because of the chance to have a senior class sweep it for the first time.
But what will never change for me in terms of the Beanpot is just how much fun I have going, and how lucky I feel to be part of a school that has such an incredible and unique tradition to call its own.
As a native of the Boston area obviously that is just ratcheted up a notch for me. And using the excuse to leave work at noon. Or, at least, I'm doing that, anyway. Haha
GS: That's really the thing. The whole pomp and circumstance of it -- from waking up at 4am as a student to get in line for the tickets to everything else -- is just so Goddamn FUN.
I am so upset I'm not going this year. I keep getting knots in my gut about it.
AC: I will however bitch out any drunk students who try to take my seats, when I had to pay like double for them. Again.
JG: I'll be with you on that, Amy. Get off my lawn, kids.
Anything else for this week?
AC: Yeah i have a question for you guys.
AC: On Johnny. Are you concerned that he hasn't scored recently?
AC: To me it seems like he has a couple great moves, that used to work all the time, but lately I think other teams have been catching on.
GS: Dude has been, seriously, the reason for like 60% of all of our scoring chances lately. He just hasn't hit the twine.
JG: I am a little bit concerned because I feel like his confidence might be hurt a bit, but that might as well happen now and not later in the year.
AC: By the end of the Maine series, everyone knew he was going to go backhand.
JG: Let's not forget, he slumped through the middle of last season before hitting his stride. And we saw him transform within a single WJC from "snakebit, squeezing the stick" to "unstoppable." So I'm not *concerned,* per se.
GS: The thing to remember too is, 'moves' aren't his whole game. Honestly the most impressive part of his game, to me, is his incredible passing ability and how he's always where he needs to be to create a play.
JG: His play has definitely dropped off a bit, though. It's not just puck luck.
But again, we're spoiled. He's not going to be Wayne Gretzky every game.
GS: And really it probably has to do with the fact that *everyone* is struggling, too.
JG: Well yes, that. When you're a setup guy, it helps to have people to set up.
GS: He's maybe forcing it a bit because he might feel like he has to at the moment with the team struggling.
AC: His assists and general play have still been ridiculous, I was just getting worried about his goal scoring.
JG: I wouldn't be worried about that long-term, honestly. He's too gifted to be on a goal scoring dry spell for long.
AC: Okay, I'll take your words for it haha
JG: Well Amy, thanks for joining us! That'll just about do it for this edition of the regular Hockey Banter, but we do have a Bonus for you coming tomorrow: a discussion on what would make for a successful season for BC hockey. Be sure to stop by to join in the discussion.
GS: Indeed. Go Eagles.