The Eagles changed the narrative of their season this weekend with a 3-point effort against the defending national champion Providence College Friars. Friday's win was arguably BC's best all-around performance of the year; Saturday's tie felt like a win after BC went down 4-1 and clawed their way back against a PC team that was playing with the kind of anger and fire the Eagles brought to the ice Friday night. Here's a look at some observations from the series:
1. The offense is a different animal at full strength: After the Friday game, point #1 would have been "Colin White changes everything." It's true that he does. But as Saturday demonstrated, it's not just Colin White—when this team has its full complement of forwards, its depth is scary and hard to keep up with. On Saturday, White was kept off the board, but Alex Tuch continued his surge to lead the way as BC put a 4-spot against a very good defensive team. There just aren't many teams that are going to be able to contend with wave after wave of three strong lines rolling at them. If the offense stays healthy, they will be a force to be reckoned with.
2. The Eagles still have the deer-in-the-headlights problem sometimes: Opponents seem to score goals in bunches against the Eagles, who have a habit of looking like a deer in the headlights when the other team is buzzing. The last minute of the first period was a disaster; Providence kept coming while BC looked ready to go to the locker room. A minute like that can ruin the entire season in one-and-done play, so the Eagles will need to get better at preventing such lapses. That said...
3. BC continues to impress with character and resiliency: Once again, BC was forced into a tough spot and responded. They showed heart to come out and play their best game of the season in front of their freshman goalie on Friday, then battled back in a tough environment to snag a point on Saturday. There's no questioning this team's character.
4. Having success on the power play is a game-changer: Duh, I know. But when reflecting on the halfway point, looking at the fact that BC had four losses all by one goal and the power play was in the lower half nationally, it was easy to do some mental math and figure a power play more along the lines of what one would expect from BC would have probably reversed a couple of their losses. Saturday was a good example of this. Down 4-1, a goal on a delayed penalty plus a PPG changed the entire game.
5. Ian Milosz can do the job if needed: In the first period on Saturday, Milosz looked like he was fighting the puck, but it's important to point out that his defense wasn't helping him out very much. He went on to have a fine game and actually set a season high for BC goalies with 38 saves. He didn't have to be spectacular in either game. He got the job done and earned BC a crucial three point weekend. If that's all he does for the rest of the season, it'll be a season-changing contribution. And if Demko's injury lingers, we know Milosz can be serviceable.
6. There's something different about the season after New Year's: Did you feel that on Saturday? The feeling of gripping intensity that can sometimes fade in and out over the course of a long season...it's here to stay. The business end of the season started with a series that BC absolutely had to get at least a split out of. Friday night's game was a borderline laugher, but Saturday was as intense as it gets once BC pulled to within 4-3. As Providence peppered the net late in the third period the Eagles were on the razor's edge between a highly successful weekend and one that would end on a note of disappointment. The two teams knew the stakes and responded by playing with playoff intensity. Unless BC goes on a hefty winning streak over the next 3-4 weeks, every weekend has the potential for BC to fluctuate between the pairwise bubble and a top 8 spot. Get your barf bags ready.