1. Demko and the defense are outpacing expectations. Yes, I know, BC's strength of schedule has been pretty weak so far. Very weak, actually. That said, when you start talking about things that haven't been done in decades, there's reason to be excited. Thatcher Demko's three consecutive shutout streak is BC's first since Cory Schneider accomplished the feat in 2006. More impressively, BC's mark of allowing 3 goals in the first 5 games is the lowest GAA through five games in the entire history of the program. Additionally, this weekend marked the first time Colorado College has ever been shut out in back to back games at home.
The road is only going to get tougher for BC, starting with Friday night's monster tilt against Denver. But to see the defense playing so well is hugely encouraging. We know this team was going to be able to score more than they did last year, and we figured Demko's health would make him even better; but would they be able to support Demko with solid D after losing two of their best defensemen? So far, the answer has been a resounding "yes."
In addition to the well known fact that they've allowed 1, 2, 0, 0 and 0 goals, there's also the impressive fact that they've allowed 24, 28, 20, 24, and 21 shots.
2. A small tweak to the lines got Jeremy Bracco on the board. To the extent that there have been "negatives" so far this season, it's that Jeremy Bracco had yet to make the scoresheet in the first few weeks of the season. A small tweak to two of BC's three top lines seemed to get him going. Last year's first line of Sanford, Tuch and Gilmour was reunited, and Bracco was slotted in next to Ryan Fitzgerald and Colin White. These moves paid dividends each night.
On Friday, Bracco picked up the first three assists of his season, and played a key role in Ryan Fitzgerald having one of his best games. As a pass-first playmaker, playing along side a speedy finisher like Fitzgerald seems like a good fit for Bracco. While the new line didn't score on Saturday night, they combined for 11 shots on goal. On Saturday, the reunited Tuch, Sanford and Gilmour line combined for 6 points.
3. Call them the BC Honey Badgers... because they don't give a F. They showed some of this last year, but it's really coming out this year, and though it's a little uncharacteristic of recent BC teams, it's pretty enjoyable. You had Scott Savage lowering the boom on a CC skater coming through the neutral zone. You had Ryan Fitzgerald flipping over a CC player with a hip check on Friday night. You had Miles Wood showing some Chris Kreider-like net drive and bulldozing his way in to the net for the 4th or 5th time this year. You had BC demanding a video review of CC's garbage time consolation goal that maybe would have let them leave the rink feeling a little better about themselves. And you had the Eagles pushing hard for a 6th goal on a power play in the final minute of the game, not content to just pass the puck around and let the clock run out. I think this team is ready to be circled on the calendar and play the role of the villain. It could get pretty fun once the league season starts.
4. The penalty kill has now scored as many goals as the opposing power play. One of the defining elements of BC's stretch of insane teams from 2010 to 2012 was the feeling, as soon as BC took a penalty, that it was a damn good opportunity for a shorthanded goal. I'm not sure if this team has quite the same level of speed and playmaking ability to make opposing power plays' lives a nightmare, but they do now have two shorties on the season after Zach Sanford potted a second period shorthanded goal on Saturday.
More importantly, the PK was stout all weekend long, going 6 for 6 both nights and never really letting CC do much of anything. They allowed 1 (!) shot on goal in CC's six PP attempts Friday, and a still good 4 shots on goal in 6 PP tries on Saturday. Not bad.
5. Colorado College is in deep trouble. They're really going to regret not beating UMass when they had them opening weekend, because since then they've been swept by UML and swept by BC. Next up for them? North Dakota (x2), Minnesota Duluth (x2) and Denver (x2). Don't count on these games helping BC's strength of schedule much.
6. Things look outstanding right now, but keep expectations grounded for a little bit. BC's opponents have combined for one (1) total victory so far this season - RPI's win over BC. A softer early schedule probably helped this team take flight a bit, but they're going to get thrown in to the fire on Friday with a home game against Denver. Then, the grind of league play starts. We'll have a better gauge on what to expect this year once we're a few more weeks in to the season.
7. University of New Brunswick would probably be a contender in Hockey East. Not necessarily BC related, but the UNB team that beat BC in exhibition play returned to the US this weekend and did quite well. On Friday night, they stomped Maine 5-1; on Saturday, they tied highly touted Harvard 3-3. Combining their record against fellow CIS teams, NCAA teams, and (lol) AHL teams, they are 10-1-1 this season, with their only loss coming to UMass Lowell. Makes me feel better in retrospect about that game. Also, it didn't count.