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PREVIEW: Boston College hockey looks to defend “our house” at Agganis Arena vs. BU

Boston University is red hot, but BC has a great history at Agganis. Can BC snag a road win?

Hockey East Tournament Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

#12 Boston College Eagles (14-7-2) at
#5 Boston University Terriers (12-5-2)

Date/Time:
Friday, January 13, 2016, 7:30 PM

Venue:
Agganis Arena, Boston, MA

How to Watch:

Tonight’s game is exclusive to BU’s online stream. The good news is, it’s free, good quality, and connects with Chromecast. Nice. Monday night’s home game will be on NESN.

Radio:

WEEI 850 AM/ BCEagles.com are on the call as always, with Jon Rish doing play by play and Tom Grace on color commentary.

Storylines:

  • It's the 271st edition of the Green Line Rivalry, the best rivalry in college hockey. The Terriers lead the all-time series 130-122-18 - that's how close things are over hte course of 100 years of competition.
  • The Eagles are coming off a critical win last Sunday at Fenway, fighting through a tough Providence team and tricky ice conditions to skate away with a 3-1 win. The victory moved BC on to the right side of the Pairwise line at #12.
  • While we’re not 100% sure of the status of Colin White, who missed Sunday’s game with an illness, and Matt Gaudreau, who took a heavy hit in the third period on Sunday and appeared to have potentially suffered an upper body injury, there is a chance tonight that BC might be able to finally field a full lineup for the first time in months. Now wouldn’t that be exciting!
  • David Cotton has climbed his way in to the top 10 among freshmen scorers in Hockey East with a 7-7--14 line. He also has 4 game-winning goals, tied for the conference lead.
  • It’s been a long time - since October 22, to be precise - since BC completed a game where they allowed fewer than 4 power plays, when they yielded 3 to Holy Cross. Though BU’s power play hasn’t been lights out this year, at 18.5%, giving all these superstar players 5+ chances on the powerplay is a surefire way to get burned.
  • Austin Cangelosi continues to be a star on faceoffs, #3 in the nation in faceoff percentage with 300+ faceoff wins this season. He may have some crucial draws to win today matched up against some of BU’s top players.

Getting to know the opponent:

  • Boston University was a near-unanimous pick as favorite to win the Hockey East title, and a trendy preseason pick for national #1 as well. They roll out 8 first and second round draft picks, and just basically accounted for 13 of the US World Junior gold medal team.
  • Some of the other, non-WJC Terriers have been flexing their muscles lately, most notably Jakob Forskabcka Karlsson, who powered BU to a win over Union while their other top players were away at WJC. JFK was 20 points in 19 games so far this season. Bobo Carpenter has also stepped up in his sophomore season, scoring 13 points in 19 games.
  • That said, it's the under-20 players who are the power behind this team. Patrick Harper leads the way with 22 points, Jordan Greenway has 17, Claton Keller has 16, and Charlie McAvoy has 14. Kieffer Bellows and Dante Fabbro have gotten off to slower starts to their collegiate careers from a scoring perspective, but all are liable to go off at just about any time, and the plethora of stars at the top of the lineup makes BU a matchup nightmare for top lines.
  • Jake Oettinger, third goalie for the USA WJC team,has a .930 save percentage in 16 games played this season, and he'll likely get the start opposite his USA teammate Joe Woll in both games this weekend.
  • Though BU has been one of the best defensive teams in the league (2.21 GAA), they've been mid-pack in terms of shot suppression and shot creation. They've played a much tougher schedule than many other teams, which may be a factor - but even in conference games, BU is averaging getting outshot 29-28. Something to keep an eye on, as BC generally has had a positive shot margin in most games.

CAT PREDICTIONS

Like a cat would ever pick a dog to win.

Mimi picks the Eagles, 3-2:

Adopt Mimi at the Gifford Cat Shelter, located just down the road from BC on Undine Road in Brighton. Even BU fans are welcome.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • How does BC win against BU? To me, there are a few areas where they might have an advantage. Goaltending is basically a wash, but on a given night, Joe Woll is certainly capable of standing on his head, making 35 saves, and helping BC win a really tough game. So that’s one avenue.

A second is that BC has a little bit more scoring depth than BU does. BU has 5 players averaging over .5 PPG. BC, on the other hand, has a staggering 11 players with .5 points per game or more. BU has more firepower at the high end, but if BC’s very capable top two lines can match up with and neutralize the top of BU’s lineup, BC might have an edge in a third line vs. third line situation.

Last but not least, there’s the experience factor: this is the first huge rivalry game for all the freshmen on both teams, but Ryan Fitzgerald, Austin Cangelosi, Matt Gaudreau Chris Calnan and Scott Savage are grizzled vets compared to all the very young players on both teams.

  • The other storyline worth noting every time BC travels to Agganis Arena is their stellar record at the House that Parker Built. BC has an 11-3-2 record all-time at Agganis.
  • I hope tonight’s game is still rocking despite being, once again, on student break. We shall see. Monday night is starting to look like it’ll be a good crowd at Conte, based on the live seating chart on the BC website.