With last night’s 5-3 defeat to Boston University now festering in Boston College nightmares and the record books, the BC men’s hockey team has slipped into a three-game losing streak for the first time since the 2009-10 season. Plenty of reasons to panic exist—the Fiddle Kid seems wildly ignorant of musical theory, for example—but so do glimpses of hope for BC’s season. So, for those of you struggling to decide whether to hit the red button or hunker down for the long haul, this guide should help.
Panic: Where the hell are the playmakers? Transitioning from winger to center, Ryan Fitzgerald has transformed into everything BC could have hoped for, that’s for sure. The sophomore deked left right left right left and then stole BU goaltender Matt O’Connor’s wallet and phone and left him on the side of the road on that breakaway goal. Like a flashier Bill Arnold, Fitzgerald’s picked up his new defensive responsibilities with ease and accounts for seven of BC’s 24 goals this year.
Looking past Fitzgerald, the pickings are slim. Adam Gilmour and Alex Tuch are on six points for the year and Chris Calnan continues to show flashes of skill, but as everyone expected, scoring depth is already a huge issue for BC. Fitzgerald is good, but he’s no Johnny Gaudreau, and until Tuch turns into Kevin Hayes, he doesn’t really have a deadly partner in crime out there. No single player is going to be able to carry this team, the lower lines need to step up as more than just puck chasers. But with all the chances guys like Quinn Smith, Michael Sit, Destry Straight, and Danny Linell have had over their careers to become big-time players, is there any reason to now believe they will?
Nah: College hockey is about timing, more so than any other sport. The college season is an Iditarod-long haul, spanning October to April, and it’s all about peaking at the right time. The 2009-10 NCAA Tournament winning BC team hit potholes and pitfalls in the regular season, losing its opener, and dropping games to Vermont and Merrimack, and in January, to BU. As late as Feb. 19, the Eagles were still slipping up, but then, they caught fire. Nine straight wins and the title. BC just needs a decent record until it hits the stretch. If it can learn from these early struggles, the Eagles might even be better off come March.
Panic: The Eagles’ power play looks just about as broken as their football brethren’s kicking game. BC is five for 39 on the PP, which is bad. Really bad. There were times on Friday night when it was easy to forget BC was actually a man up—their system looked that scrambled. It will turn around—Greg Brown is too good a coach for BC to sink in the power play mire all year—but right now, woof.
Nah: His stat line isn’t as pretty as it should be given how well he’s played, but Thatcher Demko is doing some darn good goaltending for the Eagles this year. Demko looks confident and hulking in the net and the only suspect part of his game so far has been his puck handling. Demko faced a series of breakaways on Friday night, including two against the devil-in-red-and-white / anointed Face Of American Hockey (FOAH) Jack Eichel, and lived to tell the tale. Demko’s the guy this year, but he needs more help.
Panic: For a team that was supposed to be powered by the blue line, BC’s looked absolutely porous in its zone. After a slow start to the year, captain Michael Matheson played a sharp game against BU, as did freshman Noah Hanifin, despite a misleading minus-four. Losing Steve Santini is a terrible wound for BC, that’s for sure, and Ian McCoshen seems to spend most of his time on the ice taking reckless penalties. The defense just simply isn’t as good as billed, right now. BC gives up way too much space in its zone—see Evan Rodrigues’ stroll through the middle of the ice and subsequent goal. Something’s gotta give.
Nah: “We got dirty goals tonight, and you gotta get dirty goals,” said BU head coach David Quinn in his postgame press conference. True words right there—luck has proven to be a cruel mistress for BC so far this year. BU scored a few Charmin-soft goals last night, the kind of gifts the Eagles just aren’t getting many of this year. Per BC head coach Jerry York, sometimes you need a little puck luck. The Eagles are running low on that.
Panic: Former BC captain Pat Mullane had to wear a BU sweatshirt and hat, but they didn’t burst into flames upon contact with his skin. The end of days are near.
Nah: The last time BC lost its first game against BU of the season, the Terriers ran riot in a 5-0 massacre, so it can always be worse. BC dropped the next meeting too, 5-3. Then the Eagles went on to win the next two duels and the National Championship.
Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Heights Editor