Despite Boston College's loss to Northeastern last Friday, on paper there's a lot to like about BC's chances this weekend. KRACH says they're the 5th-best team in the country. They won the regular season title of the nation's toughest league. They have more high-end NHL prospects than any other team in their regional, by far. And based on season-long stats, BC is one of the nation's top teams.
- BC is tied for #4 in the nation in goals per game at 3.87
- The Eagles are also #7 in the nation in goals against average (2.00)
- As a result, BC is #4 in the nation in average scoring margin (+1.87 per game)
- While not all the way at the top, BC's shots on goal per game is a pretty decent #14 in the country (32.95)
- BC's penalty kill is #4 in the nation at 88%
But what if you filter out BC's dominant stretch earlier in the season and look at just games since the Beanpot? Well, those numbers tell a different story.
Following their 1-0 triumph over BU back on February 8, BC hasn't fared as well defensively, giving up 26 goals in 10 games - #24 in the nation in goals against average over that stretch. As a result, their average goal margin is a pedestrian +0.90, #19 in the country. On average, BC is being outshot 33.40-30.40 since the Beanpot as well, one of just two tournament teams with a negative shot margin during that span (along with Notre Dame).
Is this all doom and gloom? Not necessarily. BC's possession stats haven't been the best all year long compared to some of the other big national title contenders. BC's 5 v. 5 CF% is 52.8%, compared to 55.6% for Providence, 56.5% for Quinnipiac and 56.4% for BU. But a lot of that can potentially be attributed to score effects - BC has scored early in a huge number of their games, which has allowed them to either coast or just focus on defending a lot of the way.
That said, one way of looking at BC's 3 losses in their last 5 games is some of their vulnerabilities and lack of territorial control coming back to bite them. Up until the Beanpot final, BC was outshooting their opponents by an average of 5.8 shots per game, and limiting opponents to an average of 27.5 shots. They'll need to go back to playing like that if they're going to get through this very challenging regional.
An extraordinary penalty kill and a pretty solid power play, along with great goaltending from Thatcher Demko, has allowed BC to continue to rack up wins even as they've dropped off in terms of possession and stats. But when the PK was a notch less than extraordinary, Northeastern took full advantage and bounced BC from the Hockey East tournament. The recipe for success in NCAA's cant rely on special teams and goaltending to carry the day.