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Hockey Banter, Week XXII: Octofinals

BC avoided the Octofinals with a good looking split against the Irish.

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Grant Salzano: 56 shots. 1 goal. How do you even begin to summarize Saturday night in South Bend, other than to say it was an interesting look at where this BC team is heading into the home stretch?

Joseph Gravellese: Yeah, it was a wild game. BC did a great job for the second consecutive night of really controlling the puck and generating a lot of chances. They were the better team than Notre Dame and played 120 full minutes of good hockey. It had been a while since I felt like I could say that with confidence, so that was good.

I do think it says a little something about the finishing skill among this forward group that they were only able to beat Peterson once in 56 shots though, on a Cam Spiro snipe. Peterson didn't exactly have to pull a Chris Terreri; a lot of the shots hit him in the chest and BC had another dozen or so chances that went high or wide. Poor Sit and Smith, they had great games and generated more offense than they had in a while, and missed quite a few open opportunities.

But that's okay, really. Nobody expects this team to be lethal shooters. it was mostly just encouraging to see them play so well and so hard for the full weekend.

GS: I don't think it's a problem in the short term if the team puts up a million shots and doesn't score. Sometimes you just fall into a bad stretch where you always seem to shoot it into the goalie's chest rather than finding the corner.

JG: Yeah, and that's sort of what happened on Saturday. And don't get me wrong, I didn't think it was problematic at all. That was the best the team has looked in terms of controlling possession...possibly all season. And against a pretty decent Notre Dame team, too.

GS: Then the fact that you are controlling the puck but not scoring kind of exaggerates the problem, because then everyone just starts getting frustrated and throwing everything at the net rather than focusing on making a play.

JG: The good play, though, starts on the back end, and they looked good. Steve Santini looked healthy. Mike Matheson was not error prone. Hanifin was just tremendous because he always is. McCoshen scored a nasty goal on Friday. Savage was solid, too. That was what we expected the D corps to look like from the start of the year when all the hype was surrounding them.

GS: Matheson has come around since my meaningless threat to bench him. I'll take credit for that.

JG: Yeah, sure, okay.

And beyond that the other major contributing factor? Penalties, or lack thereof. 3 power plays allowed on Friday, 2 on Saturday. Much better. We finally got to see what this team could do with more extended 5 on 5, and it was good.

GS: Oh God it's about time. It's felt like forever since they had less than 10. But that's something we said they had to do to get better, and they did, and they looked better.

We keep saying it—this isn't a prefect team, but when they play the game they need to play, they can be pretty good.

It sucks to lose the wild one at ND, but encouraging to do that on a road against a team that has been tough for us.

JG: Indeed. And now they have a week off to rest up and figure out how to keep doing the things they were doing better against ND.

GS: The break couldn't come at a better time.

Normally I'm iffy on breaks because I think rust is a real thing, but I think the team is pretty beat up.

Not to mention, you'd like for them to quickly get out of the habit of shooting into the goalie's chest.

JG: I'm pretty much exactly on the same boat as you there.

I think they really need this week off. They had a few guys looking pretty banged up by the end of the week. Quinn and Santini were both on the wrong end of tough hits. Demko obviously is playing a lot on hips that need surgery. And we're still hoping Silk can come back from his concussion issues—though Doherty has looked more and more comfortable at wing as time has gone on.

GS: I didn't even think of Demko. That's a guy who can use some rest.

So it's nice to get this week to regroup, but man, we would really like to avoid Northeastern in the quarterfinals. And right now, chalk has us hosting the Huskies in a week and a half.

JG: Yeah, I can't see NU blowing it against Merrimack. It's too early in the process for them to Northeastern it. I think we're gonna have to presume the Huskies are coming to town and that's a daunting proposition. They're a team whose speed and skill can give BC fits, and we just saw how closely matched these two teams are at the Beanpot about 7 years ago or whenever that game was.

GS: Bean Pot?


JG: Yeah come to think of it I can't really remember any such thing either.

GS: Maybe UMass can nah.

JG: Yeah, no, that's not happening. I thinkkkk the best hope we have for a first round upset might be #icebus.

And even that wouldn't really help us out, not without another team pulling an upset.

GS: Octofinals, man. What a shitshow.

So how do you feel this week against Bye? You gotta hope BC can get a few more past Lennay Kekua this weekend.

JG: I feel like BC can beat Bye, sure. Though any opponent can give them fits this year.

It's going to be a fascinating Hockey East tournament once the dumb octofinals are over, which look pretty predictable on paper. But once it gets to the quarterfinals, there are a lot of teams really close to one another.

GS: Definitely.

I'm trying to decide if it would be worth it for #icebus to knock BU out of the tournament before the Garden.

On the one hand, PFFFFF...

But on the other hand, good Lord we (or, more accurately, I) would never hear the end of it.

JG: I'm sorry, that would NAHT happen lol.

I can't see UConn getting past UNH up at the Whitt. Icebus isn't wide enough to cover the Olympic-sized surface.

I don't see much intrigue in these series this weekend, but I do hope I'm wrong.

GS: I could totally see UConn beating UNH. But the problem is who cares, both of those teams are crap and BU will stomp them.

JG: Yeah, pretty much. Thanks for all the added drama, Hockey East!

GS: Hooray!