Joseph Gravellese: Here's a curveball for you. Hockey banter is back!
We've got a few topics to cover as we approach a MEGAWEEKEND with the Hockey East tournament and Women's Frozen Four upcoming.
ARE YOU HAS EXCITE?
Grant Salzano: For me, personally, this might be the most excited I've ever been for a sports weekend. And that is saying something.
How's that for a hot take to kick off The Banter?
JG: That is quite the take.
Let's get right to it.
Jerry York threw a couple curveballs at us this weekend and now we don't know how to expect BC to line up on Friday night.
One of them worked really well. JD Dudek gets moved up to the White line despite having 0 goals all year, and lo and behold the guy scores his first goal AND gets a nice assist. Who saw that coming? Aside from Jerry, obviously.
The general line shuffling was I think a little more questionable, and by the end of the game we saw Doherty back up front with Sanford and Tuch, and Cangelosi back with Wood and Gilmour.
GS: I have a couple takes on those line changes:
1) You could probably put me with Colin White and I would get a goal eventually. Having said that, JD Dudek deserves the move up, and his success on that line with White can really add to the team's depth.
2) Doherty should probably stay at forward. Which makes me sound like a moron back when we were all "WHY IS DOHERTY PLAYING FORWARD RABBLE RABBLE." But he has been such a great two way player.
JG: He's worked so well with Sanford and Tuch. It's been a good line with size that has been a good possession line for BC.
I also was clamoring for him to play D, but I like how they've been able to roll 3 to 4 strong lines with Doherty up front, now that they have Kim in there on the blue line playing that puck moving role.
GS: Exactly. Rolling that fourth line has been really helpful, especially with the top guys getting gassed from being on the penalty kill so much (although that was somewhat less of an issue against UVM. Or less by our standards, anyway).
Who knew Kim would be such a big midseason pickup?
JG: I had no idea, but he was huge.
So let's see your prediction for how BC lines up on Friday. The Beanpot lineup, basically? With Dudek on L3 instead of Gaudreau.
GS: I would really like to see Doherty at forward, but beyond that I don't really care how they shuffle them up.
You have a lot of guys who are at a similar talent level, in my opinion, in a good way.
JG: So in conclusion we are hypocrites.
This HEA field is wide open, right? Is there a favorite? Providence, I guess?
GS: I would guess Providence, yeah. Although I have to say, I really thought highly of BU, and Lowell's sweep was mighty impressive. So to that end, I'd have to pick the winner of Lowell/Providence to win it all.
JG: It was, though worth noting Lowell has been dominant at home and less good away from the confines of the Tsongas. One loss at home all year long.
Northeastern is ungodly hot but this is where it gets real for them. That said, I consider BC-NU to be basically a coin flip. BC has more talent on paper but they have not been playing their best hockey.
On the other hand, BC is undefeated on Fridays stretching back to... Possibly all year?
Is that a coincidence? Maybe. But I do think BC has a tendency of starting hot -- in games and in weekends -- and then fading and relying more and more on Demko.
GS: Well, first off, I think we need to stop and acknowledge that NU's 11 game winning streak is inflated like crazy.
The sweep of Notre Dame at Notre Dame was the best weekend they had all year probably, but prior to that, they had four against Maine, two against UConn, and two against UMass.
They do have a tie against QU. That was pretty solid.
GS: Yeah, two and a half months ago.
JG: And a tie against BC back in November.
GS: Even further ago... haha
JG: Haha yeah.
Well, do you see BC as the favorite? I think it's basically a pick em. Slight BC edge. But SLIGHT.
GS: I'm not saying Northeastern isn't very good, because I think they are and we thought they were in the beginning of the year. But I think if you went back to the beginning of the year and said this is what NU's record and ranking looks like, you'd say "yeah, that's about right."
I would definitely say BC is the favorite. We're overreacting to the weekend against Vermont. When have we ever played well against that style?
JG: Yeah, never. But that was especially ugly.
NU will certainly be a high speed, high octane game. So that'll be a plus.
GS: The weekend was definitely uncharacteristically ugly. And yet, Friday was a very good effort. Let's not forget that.
Also, "uncharacteristically ugly" was still a series win.
JG: It was OK. BC also gave up a season high in shots. To Vermont. But yes, it was a win. And you can't take wins for granted.
Turning our attention to the women's Frozen Four.
IF BC wins on Friday. IF. Do you have a preference between Minnesota and Wisconsin?
GS: This has been a mental exercise for me for the last 5 months.
........I have no idea.
If Amanda Kessel had gone into the sunset and not returned, I would much rather play Minnesota.
If Ann-Renée Desbiens had fewer than 21 shutouts in 36 starts, I would say definitely Wisconsin.
JG: I'll say Wisconsin. I don't want any part of Kesselmania.
To beat Wisconsin BC will need to do the near impossible and solve Desbiens. But if anyone can do it it's a team that scores 5+ goals a game and gets 45+ shots a game. I mean but seriously.
GS: One thing that's worth noting is I think Minnesota might actually be less deep than Wisconsin. I think Minnesota has two lethal lines and not much of a third or fourth (relative to BC, anyway). Wisconsin seems to have three pretty even lines.
I'll probably get crucified for saying that, but it was from a cursory look at the stats, so whatever.
JG: I'll take our lethal top line in that scenario. But either way let's make sure anyone jumping on the bandwagon this weekend knows... if BC makes the final Sunday is a pick em. 40-0 won't mean bleep.
GS: It definitely won't, and honestly BC will probably feel like they're the underdog. BC has never been able to get over that WCHA hump, save for one bizarro BC steamrolling of the Gophers in the NCAA quarterfinals a few years back. But BC was ranked higher than the Gophers were in that game, so.
JG: Yeah, exactly. Hoo boy, it's finally here y'all.
The final showdown. Last ride for Carp and Co.
GS: I want this title so bad. We've spent a lot of years getting emotionally invested in this program. We're too far down the rabbit hole now.
Buckle up, buckaroos.