Joseph Gravellese: We have a lot to talk about this week, I think. It was quite the weekend.
You know what (or, more specifically, who) I would like to talk about first?
Grant Salzano: Teddy Doherty? I bet it's Teddy Doherty.
JG: It's Teddy Doherty.
How'd you guess?
GS: I guessed because he's become one of the most solid, reliable players on the team, and appears to be the guy who has made the Jerry Jump (TM).
JG: He might be kind of the only one. Though Destry has upped his game a lot as well. But in a several-year span that has been very un-BClike in terms of losing commits for various reasons, and players not really developing and just sort of staying what they are, Doherty has been a key exception.
From riding the pine for a good chunk of last season—which was inexplicable, but hey, York knows what he's doing—to now *leading the team in scoring* in addition to being a solid two way D-man.
His Legend also grew a little bit because on Saturday night, he scored a Captain's goal.
He's not the Captain, but I think he should be next year. And I think he probably will be. It's not just for the fact that he wears #4 that he seems to have some Tommy Cross in him.
GS: A captain's goal, eh? What would that be?
JG: Finding a way to score a goal in a key moment to help BC break through and win a tight game on the road against a solid team.
GS: Well he certainly did that. With BC giving up the lead late in the 2nd you started to feel like we were watching the same crappy movie all over again, but Doherty came through there to get the win.
That was a big one.
JG: It was huge. I don't want to overstate it, because Dartmouth is not, say, BU, but they're a darn good team and that was the first time since Denver really that you came away thinking BC beat a good team and did so by showing some serious mettle in a key situation.
GS: No doubt about it. I walked into work and the resident UConn hockey fan poked fun at me for getting excited about a win over Dartmouth.
Shows how much he knows.
And now we're looking at BC finally, at long last, getting back to full strength for the first time in ages.
JG: Yeah, I heard a pretty solid rumor today that Santini is about 75-80% likely to play this weekend. And what a good weekend to have him back, and work him into a team playing with some confidence.
GS: It's a good thing we're getting him back, because Northeastern is looking mighty scary all of a sudden.
I don't like it.
JG: I don't like it either, for both this weekend and for the Beanpot. NU's dug themselves too deep a hole to get into the PWR picture I think, but they could make some noise in conference.
The thing about Northeastern though is that fueling their win streak has been—much like early last season—some crazy save percentages. Up near 95% over their past 8 games.
GS: At what point does that stop becoming a small sample size, though? Like you said, that was the case all last year.
JG: Well...it was the case until the Beanpot. And then NU careened downhill for the rest of the season and collapsed their way out of tournament contention, with Witt putting up more humanlike .910ish numbers.
It's not a crazy outlier to see Witt doing well. He's obviously a great goalie. But I don't think he can be consistently relied upon to be THIS good. We'll see. The thing about NU that makes them scary though is that they have a number of wins over ranked teams. Also, for as bad as they are at generating shots on goal, they have a lot of good forwards.
GS: This is true. Well, given how we can never seem to beat them at Matthews when we're clearly the better team, in a "down" year for us we're due to blow them out, right?
Please tell me that's how it works.
JG: Didn't we blow them out at Matthews last year?
It always FEELS like we never win there because we've personally witnessed so many narrow losses, but BC does have some wins there in recent years.
GS: Wow, you're right, we did. Yeah, it just feels like a house of horrors. Possibly because of what lurks in the upper deck (i.e. Horrors).
Well, despite Northeastern's resurgence, there's too much good juju going in the BC locker room. I'm feeling as good as I've felt about the team all year.
JG: I'm feeling as good as I did in the first few weeks, when you were being a wet blanket, before my mood nose-dove when Santini got hurt and they went on that four-game losing streak.
Which is to say, I'm back to thinking that as long as they don't really badly slip up, I think they're a tournament team, and a team that should make it to the Garden for the Hockey East semifinals.
And both of those times, you can feel like you have a puncher's chance with this group and with Demko in net.
I don't necessarily think they're anything better than that, and it's going to take seeing BC beat a top team for me to change my mind on that. It still hasn't happened.
But that's OK. Keep cleaning up on the lower to mid tier teams and BC should move up enough to make the tournament.
GS: Yep. I feel the exact same way. We've done a good job of reigning in optimism into something realistic.
JG: Go us, I guess.
GS: It's made the season fun. And honestly, I've missed the experience of watching BC improve over the course of a season.
JG: Yeah, there's been improvement from multiple players and from the team output as a whole.
Reuniting Cangelosi and Fitzgerald was a solid Pirate Jerry move that I think helped fill out the lineup. Reviving Cangelosi did the baseball equivalent of making your lineup more dangerous by virtue of adding that bat in the middle. Now your #5 hitter is batting 6th, and so on.
Not that Cangelosi has been lights out or everything he can be, but he's really stepped up since his early season struggles.
GS: Definitely. And filling out the blue line with Santini back also allows you to slot Linell back in with the forwards somewhere.
It just makes the pieces fit together that much better.
JG: For sure. The prospect of further improvement is exciting.
I'm not entirely sure the offense is going to crank much higher. It's just not that kind of team. They're averaging 3.11 goals per game right now, which is good for a solid 3rd in Hockey East and not far off BU's pace.
I can see that ticking up a little bit if BC finds a way to put up some 4s and 5s against bad teams.
But it's really the defense that's come around since the dark spell. 2 goals or fewer allowed in 6 straight games and 7 of the last 8.
GS: Yep. That's the recipe we had been expecting all along. It's starting to pay off.