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Hockey Banter, Week III, Part I: A Well-Reasoned Look At What Turned Out To Be Not Really All That Great Of A Weekend

We were originally going to call this "Dumpster Fire Edition" ... but then we stopped and realized that would be kind of stupid.

Thatcher Demko appears to have gained a slight edge on Brian Billett
Thatcher Demko appears to have gained a slight edge on Brian Billett
Bruce Bennett

Joseph Gravellese: Last year, when BC got pounded 8-1 at Minnesota, it seemed to be the ultimate foreshadowing job for what our big problems would be for the remainder of the season. We've talked about that game enough and don't really need to revisit it again.

I'm not quite feeling the same doom and gloom about Sunday's big loss. I'm not sure exactly why, but there are a few major reasons.

Primarily, obviously, is that they played a really good game on Friday night in that tie. Both teams had their chances to win; we were lucky McCoshen's swipe wasn't called a penalty shot (we'll discuss this more tomorrow) but ultimately a tie was a fair result.

Secondly, we looked okay for a lot of the game on Sunday despite the score. I suppose I could have just been groggy watching it because it was sandwiched in between two late night World Series games, but honestly, I didn't see a gigantic disparity. Minnesota looked like the better team consistently, throughout the weekend, but not so alarmingly better that BC can't compete. Shots were even in the game and it was pretty competitive after the first ten minutes.

(Slow starts are becoming a bit of a concern, it should be said: BC fell behind in both Minnesota games, gave up a first period goal at Michigan, and had an uneven first period against RPI in the home opener. Come to think of it, they fell behind St. Francis Xavier, too. Hmm.)

I think another factor in my head -- and I think this is probably unfair toward Billett -- is that I think Demko may have taken a step ahead in the goalie race this weekend, and I think that maybe he would have stopped a couple of the goals that went in in the first period on Sunday. This might just be recency bias; Demko gave up an ugly rebound for Minnesota's first goal on Friday, but he was really quite good for the rest of the game.

Finally, I think what's also easing my mind is that this 2-2-1 stretch to start the season was perfectly reasonable based on expectations, even though Sunday's game was a rough one. Those were five really hard games. BC looked really good on three of them, and at least okay in one (at Michigan). With so many freshmen on the team, this is an acceptable start.

Wow, that's quite a lot to start with, I'm sorry. Give me your overall thoughts after the weekend series. Then we will break it down piece by piece and talk about some of the big topics: McCoshen's swipe; the goaltending situation; slow starts; and an assessment of where BC's at five games in.

Grant Salzano: Well like you said, it seems like a perfectly acceptable start to the season given the difficulty. It's really been a murderers' row of opponents and the fact that there are so many freshmen leaves you pretty encouraged.

I have lots to say on each topic, so let's just get right on to it.

I'll start off with the slow starts you mentioned.

It's really more of an annoyance than a concern, and I think it's been a direct result of the fact that there are so many young guys playing. Maybe a little bit of an adjustment to get to the speed of the game, maybe just nerves on the big stage -- I mean, Mariucci and Yost, come on -- but it's not something I really expect to go on long-term.

What do you think?

JG: That seems like a reasonable theory. I don't think there's a lack of focus or effort to start games. That hasn't been the problem. There's just been sloppy play. Also, some soft goals, allowed by both goalies, for what it's worth; I have confidence one will emerge. Both have showed signs of playing well.

Which I guess is a segue into the goalie conversation.

GS: I forget who said it... it does look like Demko has taken a step ahead so far but I think in the short term the rotation is still the way to go.

Demko is not QUITE at the point yet where I feel like we should throw it all on him. He's still making a few mistakes.

I think keeping the pressure down at least for a little while will help him transition into the "Feature Back-stop" role (see what I did there?) later in the season.

JG: For sure. Here's my thinking on this one: I think Demko has a tiny lead, but I agree it's still rotation time. But, I think circumstances are going to work out well to let Demko continue to build a slight edge before we get into the holidays.

He has a tiny lead by virtue of a couple of factors, to me: one, the fact that the team hasn't lost yet with him in net. Though, small sample size and all that.

Two, his pedigree.

And three, the fact that Billett has been in contention for the full time #1 gig before and hasn't won it. But neither of them have truly distinguished themselves. They've both had some very good moments. And Sunday was the first time where I thought Billett played poorly. I didn't see the Michigan game but by all accounts, he played well.

Anyway, here's how I see things shaking out.

Based on the current rotation schedule, you're going to see Demko on Friday night vs. NU, and Billett on Saturday night AT NU. My suspicion is that we could put Barone (or a particularly large traffic cone) in net on Friday and beat Northeastern at home, no problem, so that will probably end up being another boost for Demko.

Saturday night will be a tougher game, because it's always tough to win at Matthews, and we seem to never, ever, ever do so at the beginning of the season.

And then the rotation will set up for Demko to be in net the ensuing Friday night at BU.

If he goes down to Agganis and stonewalls the Terriers, boosting BC to a win... I think Demko becomes the temporary #1. You still split some games, because you've got Army and Holy Cross coming up, plus a midweek game against Harvard. And so in that time, through good play by one or bad play by the other, things could change. But I feel like Demko is going to build the resume to come out in January as the #1 for the rest of the season.

GS: That seems like a pretty realistic timeline.

You're right -- Billett has had a few chances now over the last couple years to become the #1 and has not seized the opportunity. It doesn't help matters that we have such a highly rated guy coming in behind him.

You obviously feel for the guy but he has had his chances.

JG: Yeah. I acknowledge that this is unfair, because he only played in a few games each year. But I feel like he's a little bit more in the "this is what you're going to get" category. He's a good goalie, but I think if he had the potential to be a guy who steals you games and becomes a superstar, we would have seen that already.

But hey, I'd like to be wrong. I'd be more than happy to eat crow in April if Billett goes on a Milner-2012-type surge.

GS: I was going to make the same connection to Milner haha

JG: The difference with my perception of Milner is that he was good enough as a freshman to push Muse and earn a bunch of starts.

But yeah, that's where I'm at on that one. Demko with a slight lead with only about 25% of precincts reporting. Florida, Florida, Florida.

Check back tomorrow where we go into an in-depth look at McCoshen's insane play to earn BC the draw on Friday, as well as a brief look at Northeastern.