Two periods into Tuesday night’s matchup against Merrimack, the Eagles were up 2-0 and things were going pretty well.
The third period was a different story. BC had to kill four penalties in the last 20+ minutes and got burned on two of them, dropping to a disappointing draw against the Warriors — a game they should have taken without much trouble.
That’s been the early season story for Boston College. Truthfully, taking penalties has been an issue for the last couple years, but college hockey’s emphasis on calling any infraction, no matter how minor, has caused big problems for the Eagles thus far. Special teams have become a much bigger part of the game than it has in the past.
First, the good news: At even strength, BC has been exceptionally good, perhaps the best in the NCAA. BC is tops in the country with 21 even strength goals, two clear of St. Lawrence in 2nd, and the Eagles are only allowing 1.00 even strength goals per game — also best in the country.
That’s right — BC is 1st in scoring and 1st in defense at even strength.
But now the bad news: with penalty minutes through the roof nationally — with BC no exception — the Eagles’ struggles on special teams are already starting to cost them games.
On the power play, BC is:
15th in power plays attempted, and
45th in power play percentage.
15th in power play attempts is just okay, but at 45th out of 54 in conversion, the Eagles have been completely unable to take advantage of their opportunities.
Shorthanded, the situation is even worse.
On the penalty kill, BC is:
51st (!!) in the country in power plays allowed, and
33rd in penalty kill percentage.
These numbers are absolutely bricking BC. If just one of these stats were sub-par, that would be bad enough, but the Eagles are both allowing the other team an exceptional number of power play opportunities and allowing them to convert those opportunities.
The result is already showing itself in BC’s record. If only even strength goals counted, the Eagles’ record would improve from 4-2-1 to 5-0-2.
So, there’s a lot to like about this year’s BC team, and their numbers at even strength show that they’ve got the talent needed to win games. Special teams issues are correctable with coaching, and by cleaning up those numbers, BC’s got potential to really make a run this year.