Boston College completed their second straight highly successful weekend, taking 3 points from Boston University on rivalry weekend. BC went 2-0-2 over two weekends against two of the very best teams in the league and is now back on solid footing heading in to a weekend where they'll be expected to do some damage. Here are some observations from the weekend that was.
1. The gap between BC and BU is razor-thin, if there's even a gap at all: Going in to this weekend, we talked a lot about how this was, on paper, one of the most even season series in years between these two rivals. That's how it played out on the ice as well. Two ties probably would have been a fair result, and it was really a pair of dogged late pushes that allowed BC to turn a potential one-point weekend in to a three-point weekend, scoring late in each game.
Shot attempts for the weekend were 131-120 in favor of BC. At even strength, BU had the advantage, 94-86. Only three goals total were scored at 5-on-5 for the entire series (2 for BC, 1 for BU), and it was just BC's late power play heroics thanks to the cannon shot of Ian McCoshen that allowed them to pull away for the series win. Sean Maguire and Thatcher Demko looked fairly even between the pipes, each playing particularly well on Saturday night, and both BC and BU have freshmen who make huge impacts in Colin White and Jakob Forsbacka Karlson.
If these two teams meet again either at TD Garden or somewhere in the NCAA tournament, expect another razor-tight game.
2. The staff views Teddy Doherty as adding value at forward / 3. Chris Calnan is probably still dinged up: These two points go together. Chris Calnan was dropped down to the fourth line on Saturday and played limited minutes over the weekend. I don't think he's done anything to warrant that in terms of performance or anything else—odds are, he's still experiencing lingering impacts of the injury he suffered earlier this season at UNH and is playing through some pain.
The result has been that the coaching staff has elected to move Teddy Doherty up in to a top 9 forward spot and bring Josh Couturier back in to the defensive fold rather than move one of the fourth line forwards up, at least for now. While we've griped about Doherty playing at forward a lot here, and still think he's best suited playing on the blue line, it's obvious that the coaching staff views him as a valuable asset up front.
When he makes plays like this one along the wall, it's easy to see why:
2-2! pic.twitter.com/kfUkDIF1Uw— Grant Salzano (@Salzano14) January 16, 2016
This whole dang thing happens as a result of Doherty's work. No matter where you put this kid on the ice he makes things happen. We'll miss him a lot next year.
4. Forsbacka Karlson is becoming a powerhouse for BU: This is good news if you're a B's fan I guess, as the Bruins pick out of Sweden seems to be coming in to his own. After scoring two points on Friday, it was his electrifying rush on Saturday that set up BU's first and only goal of Saturday's contest. This clip doesn't really capture the whole story, which is that JFK torched three BC players on this rush, not just Tuch (who ends up getting smoked here in what the GIF captures). Given that he's a freshman I suspect he's going to keep strengthening as the season goes on.
5. BU seemed to park the bus early on Saturday night: As I read through some of the post game reaction around the internet after Saturday night, I read a BC fan lament that the Eagles came on like gangbusters for the last 10 minutes but "slowed down" once they tied the game. I wouldn't attribute it to BC slowing down, though; I'd attribute it to a renewed push by the Terriers, who seemed to really "park the bus" and play for 1-0 far too early in the third period against a team with the kind of firepower BC has. With four minutes, we noticed BU literally parking all five players in the slot area as BC carried the puck around the net to set up a possession. There were also a number of shifts where BU seemed too eager to gain the red line and hum the puck in deep rather than try to do anything with it.
BU has been a great third period team particularly when coming from behind or needing a late goal to win it (they actually very nearly scored a walkoff win on an Ahti Oksanen wide shot with under 3 seconds left in the game) but the last two times I've watched them defend a late lead in person in a big game, they were way too quick to try to collapse around their own net and defend their lead. Keep an eye out to see if this is a trend that continues as the Terriers are likely to play in a number of big games down the stretch.