The great Mark Divver of the Providence Journal chatted with BC Interruption about tomorrow night’s Hockey East home opener at Conte Forum (6:05 PM, NESN/ASN). You can follow Mark for more hockey thoughts at @MarkDivver.
1. Five games in, has anything changed your expectation of where you think Providence will be relative to the pack this season?
No, my expectation for PC hasn’t changed. Going into the season, I had PC in the hunt for a top 4 slot in the standings, but probably finishing 5th or 6th. I still believe that is how it will play out. With 9 freshmen, I figured the Friars would have some growing pains, and they have. I continue to believe that the younger players will improve as the season goes on and that PC could be a dangerous team by the time late February/March rolls around.
2. The offense seemed to break out a bit last week against the North Country teams, with 9 goals in two games. What changed to fuel the offensive outburst?
Their offense was helped by the ridiculous number of power plays they had last weekend. To their credit, they took advantage, going 3 for 10 vs. Clarkson and 4 for 14 vs. St. Lawrence. Scoring was a major question mark coming into the season, after losing so many of their top scorers. Putting up 6 goals against a good St. Lawrence team should help the Friars’ confidence.
3. How has Hayden Hawkey acquitted himself between the pipes so far?
Hayden Hawkey needs to be better, and I believe he will be. He hasn’t played poorly by any means, but his save percentage is .877, which clearly isn’t good enough.
4. Any newcomers in particular standing out for Providence?
Defenseman Jacob Bryson has been very good. He’s undersized but is a terrific skater who sees the ice well. Spencer Young has been good, too. Up front, unheralded Josh Wilkins has 5 points in 5 games. He’s surprised some defensemen so far with his speed off the rush. Scott Conway looks to be finding his scoring touch. And winger Kasper Bjorkqvist, who has been out with an injury, might end up being PC’s best forward once he gets healthy.
5. It seems like Hockey East overall may be a bit down this year, is that a fair assessment or is it too early to say?
I’m not ready to say that Hockey East is down a bit. Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. We’re only three weeks into the season.
BC takes on Providence tomorrow night at 6 PM on the American Sports Network/NESN.