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Hockey Banter, Week IX: Therapy Session

With a tough weekend in the rear view mirror, BC prepares for UNH in a home-and-home with the Wildcats

BC Athletics

Joseph Gravellese: Another week, another disappointment for the Boston College hockey team against top opponents. As BCJacket5 pointed out earlier in the week, BC is now 1-6 against teams that are top 30 in the Pairwise, and 6-1 against teams in the bottom 29.

That won't do.

Grant Salzano: For Christ's sake.

What the hell, man...

JG: Hey, you're the one who said you were pessimistic going in to the season. So...are you really surprised?

GS: I'm not really 'surprised,' but it doesn't make me any less frustrated. That stat you opened with is so telling. The problem right now is that I think we've gotten to the point where we know exactly the team we are, and I'm struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

We're painfully average, beating awful teams and losing to good teams. It doesn't even feel like we have much of a chance against these good teams.

I see no end to this stretch of mediocrity right now, with the exception of next year's freshman/sophomore juggernaut.

JG: You know what is kind of weird about this team? College hockey is so weird and so topsy turvy that you kind of figure they'd lose more games against bad teams and maybe steal a few against good ones.

And yet...they've kind of fallen into a pattern. One of the only teams whose performance has much of a pattern. They look...not dynamic, but skilled enough, to overpower all the weak teams they play (UConn excepted). Then they look punchless against the top teams.

GS: This weekend is against another team that we probably should beat, though marginally better than UMass and Maine and Colorado if we manage to sweep, is there any reason to get excited?

JG: Excited, no. Hopeful, maybe.

Because as I touched on earlier in the week, there's stuff I do expect BC to improve on. The power play being the obvious one, plus overall team defense once Santini returns.

Also...I mean, Cangelosi can't stay off the score sheet all year, can he? Kid has to break out at some point, no? He looked far too promising as a prospect and as a freshman to just completely fall off the map.

GS: I doubt he stays off the scoresheet all year but 14 games in, we're starting to leave the realm of small sample sizes. He has been pretty decent but has really lacked that electric scorer's touch that I think a lot of us were hoping for.

The power play needs to get going, plain and simple. Our offense hasn't been completely dreadful even without it clicking so you have to figure even something out of the special teams will help us win some games against better opponents.

The power play has been something of a dead horse though. We're going to talk about it every single week until it starts to get going.

JG: Well, without a doubt. There are a few games where the power play could have swung it. But yeah, it is a dead horse. There's only so much you can say. I guess the laws of Teh Sports Blogging require me to make some sort of suggestion that won't get implemented. So how about an umbrella with three defensemen up high?

BC tried Matheson on the left wing on the power play last week, without much success. When I saw Matheson roll out as one of 3 D, I expected to see them fan out and all set up for shots up high but instead, Matheson got in deep like anyone else playing on the wing. So maybe change that up?

GS: I suggest hitting the ref with a chair, putting the goalie in Figure 4 leg lock, and then shooting.

Hockey Banter Special Edition: Which BC skater would pull off the best wrestling submission move? I say Gilmour.

JG: Matheson, obviously. Or Santini.

GS: Nah Santini would give a great People's Elbow but submission move? No way.

What were we talking about again?

JG: Goddamnit, we miss Santini. If for no other reason than him smacking down fools would at least be something enjoyable to watch.

GS: We very, very, very badly missed him against BU, because he is always good for a few big hits. He may not have been the difference against Minnesota, but it would have been a different game.

JG: I have noticed a lot less nastiness from BC than I did in early weeks. Santini really sets the tone. He's also an invaluable stay-at-home defender on a team crying out for one. For all their talent on the blue line, they love to rush the puck and are susceptible to mistakes.

You know what's kind of a random observation? I honestly felt like there were a lot of similarities between the Providence and the Minnesota games last week, but just the main difference was the sick finishing of the Gophers.

But BC did some trapping and some counter attacking and did so successfully for a lot of both games. Even in the Minnesota game...they had the Gophers pretty well bottled up until they exploded for two goals at the end of the second period and that forced the game to open up.

The problem is, counter attacking works better if you've got finishers, you know? And who are finishers for this team? Tuch and Fitzgerald. Beyond that...?

I know Providence's shot counter says BC had over 40 shots on Saturday, but I don't really buy it. If they did have 40+ shots, a lot of them were very weak efforts, I thought.

GS: Yeah, we are badly lacking in goal scorers. Fitzgerald looked like the most likely player to be That Guy this year, but you know what's scary? He hasn't gotten a single point in six full games.

For all we were whining about lack of secondary scoring, it sure would be nice to see the primary scorers do something.

JG: Yeah, he had an early hot streak but he's been very silent.

GS: Silent is an understatement. He's disappeared.

JG: It's true. You know who have done well lately? Quinn Smith and, yes, Destry Straight.

I'm still not sure that Straight is the right guy to play on the wing of Calnan and Gilmour, neither of whom have reached what I think they're capable of. But Straight has been putting the puck in the net. Dude deserves credit since he's certainly faced plenty of criticism. He's been scoring by going hard to the net, plain and simple.

GS: Yep, definitely have to give him credit. He's tied for 4th on the team in scoring, which seems impossible, but he's tied with Fitzgerald and only two back of the team lead.

JG: Of course, that means that all scoring right now is secondary. But yeah. Credit well deserved there.

GS: We've really had well-rounded scoring. That's definitely not been the problem. Three guys with 10 points, three guys with 8, and four guys with 7.

GS: But there is no great scoring line that is going to get that goal when you need it.

JG: Do we have any other nice things to say? I like being positive.

GS: I ruined it.

You know what's kind of sad? Demko has been pretty pedestrian. I don't know if he needs that surgery or what, but he's 34th out of 78 eligible goaltenders in save percentage.

JG: Yeah, that is fair. I mean I don't blame him for the Minnesota game because a lot of those shots were bullets. But yeah. I expected him to be dominant. He was early in the season but hasn't been the last few weeks. And he'll be called upon to do big things if this team is going to make a run.

That said, chalk that up as another thing that it's not inconceivable that BC improves upon.

GS: It just seems like there is a whole lot of "not quite" with this team that has added up to being pretty sub-standard. Power play: not there. Top line: not there. Defense: not where we hoped it would be. Goaltending: not quite there.

None of those are particularly awful, with the exception of the power play, so to your point, it is conceivable that if we get just a bit better in a couple of those areas, we might really start to turn things around.

How's that for positive?

JG: Yeah, that's pretty much where I'm at. I do think they're working hard, which is a plus, as reflected in their generally handling bad teams. With how bad Hockey East right now, most of BC's games the rest of the season will be against meh opposition. So that should keep BC above .500 and on the fringe of being in the tournament. From there it would only really take one hot streak to move into the tournament field.

So hang in there. This program has been the best thing going at BC for a long time, so they deserve the fans having their back and sticking with it the rest of this year, even if we go in to it with realistic expectations.

GS: And it's not like we're sticking with them out of mere duty as they fly into a black hole of despair. They are not that far out of a tournament at-large. With how many crap teams there are out there it won't take a particularly long winning streak to get into the conversation.

JG: Yeah that's pretty much exactly what I said. Thanks for reading, pal.

GS: We're clearly both in the same place. Hopefully they start another winning streak up at the Whit.

JG: Gonna be a tough game on the big ice with BC's lack of speed. But UNH is bad. So yeah, I enter the weekend hopeful.

Go Eagles.