The calendar turns to February this weekend and as such, a lot of local hockey minds are drifting past the weekend and toward Monday. If not for the blizzard, today would have been the annual Beanpot media luncheon. Even without it, we can be assured that the barrage of Beanpot press should start in the newspapers and online in the next few days, complete with predictions of Northeastern victory that have been reprinted each year since about 2002.
But before Monday comes along, there's the little matter of a game against one of the league's hottest teams, the Providence College Friars. PC had been sitting in the bubble zone with BC, but an impressive and comprehensive weekend sweep over UMass-Lowell last weekend vaulted the Friars into #9 in the pairwise rankings. PC is also up to fourth place in the Hockey East standings, two points back of both Lowell and BC who are tied for the #2 spot. With PC holding two games in hand, the Eagles won't want to drop any more points to the Friars as the battle for positioning in the league heats up.
Everyone knows about Providence's star goalie, Jon Gillies, and the Calgary pick continues to be key between the pipes for Nate Leaman's squad. But what's been really impressive about Providence during their recent hot streak is their offense, which had struggled over the past couple of seasons. Since Christmas, Providence is 6-2-0, scoring 3.89 goals per game—good for the #3 offense in the nation during that period of time.
Not unlike BC, Providence has found offense through balance. Junior Noel Acciari has been hot for PC, scoring 7 of his 8 goals this season since the break, but beyond him, nobody else is lighting up the scoreboard too much individually. However, PC has 9 players with double digits in scoring, and has several forwards capable of getting hot and carrying the load for a given time, including Nick Saracino, Ross Mauermann, and Mark Jankowski.
With a huge game on the horizon with big implications in both the Hockey East standings and the Pairwise rankings, BCI will have you covered this week. We'll look into the issues of the week in Hockey Banter, and discuss the Friars in depth with Providence Journal beat writer Mark Divver. Brian will delve into this week's Bracketology report, one which will finally include Boston College as of now! And at the end of the week, we'll check out the stats and make predictions for the game.
The big games just keep on coming for the Eagles—let's hope the wins keep piling up as well.