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Hockey Banter, Week VIII: Keep On Rolling

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A pair of league victories sends BC into the weekend against the Gophers and Friars

BC Athletics

Joseph Gravellese: We didn't learn too much about the Boston College hockey team this past weekend that we didn't already know, in terms of their overall skill level. They are better than UMass and Maine, neither of whom are particularly good. But we saw some stellar performances from a few individual players. And more importantly, they took care of business in both games and continued to claw their way toward getting out of their early season hole.

Given that Harvard is looking legit at this point following their Tuesday night win over BU, it's safe to say the UConn disaster was the only game so far where BC hasn't "held serve" against a weak foe.

Grant Salzano: Definitely. The wins were "expected," or as expected as we can hope this year, anyway, but I was very happy with how they played. Most important to me was how they looked really good at not just controlling the game, but also creating offensive chances. That has been missing this year.

What is going on with Harvard, huh? They just beat BU in OT last night and they're one spot below the Terriers in the Pairwise, in 9th. Que?

JG: Well, they've never lacked for talent. They have 7-8 NHL picks on the roster, and *every year* their recruiting class is ranked in the top 10. And as such, every year there's usually a "this is the year Harvard comes back" article. Oddly enough, we didn't really see much of that hype this season. And yet lo and behold, here they are. They knocked off both BC and BU at home.

And Northeastern is terrible. So I'm sure visions of Beanpot sugarplums are dancing through Harvard heads.

GS: They're the ones with the tough road though, unfortunately for them. They're going to have to go through both BC and BU, in a season where they've already beaten both. So Harvard isn't catching either by surprise.

JG: But to turn the focus back to the Heights...couple things stood out to me.

First of all, Noah Hanifin and Alex Tuch look close to being ready to really pop and start filling up the back of the net regularly.

I mentioned this in the comments after the UMass game, but your GIF of his goal couldn't even begin to summarize what a nice play he made to score.

The speed and awareness he showed to get open, keep the puck inside the zone, carry it forward and roof it home...well, that's the kind of thing we've been dreaming of seeing out of him since the hype machine around him really started rolling.

In general, I feel that defensemen usually take a little longer to develop (obviously there are exceptions to this) and so as such, Hanifin, despite being a projected top 5-10 draft pick, hasn't had the kind of game-breaking impact that, say, Chreichel has. But I think he's getting there. He looks better and more confident each week.

GS: Hoo baby. Both of those boys are looking good. They are going to be so good their senior year!

JG: Oh totally. I mean look at the senior year Gaudreau is having, what with like 10 NHL points already.

But yeah, then there's Tuch...UMass just had no answer for his size and strength on Friday night. BC controlled that game (I think shots were 30-21) but it wasn't a total whooping, except when Fitzgerald, Tuch and Sanford were on the ice. Then it really was a total mismatch. BC dominated possession and the Minutemen could do nothing. Those three comibined for 10 shots. And I think Tuch was the driving force there.

Oddly enough *none* of those guys scored. But just from watching the game, their possession dominance stood out. And then other guys were able to light the lamp—Spiro, Calnan, Quinn Smith, and Hanifin.

GS: That top line had 1 goal (against Maine) in a weekend where we scored 9. And the D only scored 2. That is a huuuuuuge deal.

Even just shot-wise, the lower lines started getting going a bit and putting the puck on net.

JG: They did. Which, granted, bad competition. But it was good to see anyway.

Oh yeah, BC scored a power play goal. So that was fun. The last 3 BC power play goals have been scored by Chris Calnan, all of which came against UMass. Make of that what you will.

Seeing as BC has had trouble even scoring on 5-on-3s, I guess that means having a man advantage on UMass is like being 5-on-2.

GS: Hard to get excited over 1 for 7 on the weekend but that's (somehow) an improvement. So, yay.

We've beaten this horse to death though. Mathematically speaking it almost has to regress to the mean.

JG: One would think.

GS: Is the power play going to have to click for us to beat Minnesota?

JG: This would be a good weekend for it to happen because they're playing some real grown-ass teams this weekend.

I see we were on the same page there.

It doesn't "have to," but I have a hard time seeing how BC knocks off Minnesota if they go 0-for-5 on the power play.

If it's a game with few penalties, that could be a different story.

One other thing from the weekend worth noting: Ian McCoshen missed Friday night's game due to illness. This meant the return of Danny Linell to the blue line. He had a nice game on D, going +1 and looking pretty good, too.

But predictably this meant that when McCoshen returned to the lineup on Saturday, Linell stayed in and Jeke was out. Poor Jeke, man.

I do have to appreciate the staff giving us something to complain about, though. Otherwise what would we fill all of these internets with?

GS: Glad to see McCoshen out for just the one game. I'm kind of of the same mind as I was last year with Jerry's Roulette at the bottom of the lineup where I think they're interchangeable enough where 1) it doesn't matter much and 2) Jerry probably knows a little bit more about their abilities than I do anyway.

JG: Just a bit, I think that's fair to say.

So in puck drop yesterday, I said I'd be happy with a split this weekend. Agreed?

It doesn't really matter to me which one. Beating the Gophers would be great, because it's the Gophers. Beating Providence would be a huge league win.

GS: Agreed.

Having said that, where would you be mentally if we 1) got swept or 2) sweep?

JG: Well, if BC gets swept, it means they're just not able to beat good teams right now. The Denver win is really their only big quality win against a good team. I think BC can make the tournament without a ton of quality wins, but it's going to leave very little margin for error.

If the Eagles sweep, well, it won't be time to get carried away, but it would certainly be thrilling and would go a long way toward erasing that early season hole.

GS: I'm with you on if we get swept.

If we sweep I will probably get carried away.

JG: That's so unlike you, Grant. You never overreact or get carried away. So that would be surprising.

(sarcasm font)

GS: HA.

Alright, well, we probably aren't going to sweep. But I do think we pull something good off this weekend. Not sure what, but we'll be pretty happy come Sunday morning.

JG: I agree. There are enough players coming into their own right now that between that and Demko, I think BC gets at least one of two.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all.

GS: Happy Thanksgiving. Go Eags.