During the postseason, coaches often spout platitudes about how goaltending and special teams make the difference between winning and losing in the fierce battles of the playoffs.
What is so interesting about this year’s championship game is that ultimately, neither goaltending nor the power play made as big an impact.
While Boston University scored two-extra attacker goals (technically not power plays), what might have made the biggest difference in the game was the lack of a power play for Miami, and BU’s ability to repeatedly kill penalties.
BU’s Kieran Millan made several good stops, but none on which he really robbed the RedHawks. Miami’s Cody Reichard was much the same; in fact, both teams rang shots off the post in the second period. Reichard finished with 28 saves, Millan 29.
For all the focus on BU’s improbable comeback and Miami being so close the title, the RedHawks probably lost the game by going 0-for-7 on the power play. BU took a series of penalties including two in the third, one after Miami had taken the lead on Tommy Wingels’ goal at 12:31.
“We took some stupid penalties tonight, and I thought the referees did a great job,” said Terriers’ coach Jack Parker. “We deserved the penalties. Our guys bailed out their teammates. I don’t think it was anything technical.
“They played a little bit harder. Miami played an unbelievably physical game, and I thought in the second period especially, they were much more disciplined positionally than we were.”
Miami struggled with the power play all night long. On at least half of the RedHawks’ man-advantage opportunities they didn’t even get a shot on net, and the Terriers’ forecheck resulted in several shots of their own.
“I think we got into some trouble,” said BU’s Matt Gilroy. “All year long we’ve killed penalties. I think it helped us in the long run.”
On the flip side, while they didn’t score on their two power plays, the Terriers did get two with an extra attacker. Parker pulled Millan with 2:40 left in the third to try and get something going.
Whereas BU played an aggressive style when down a man, Miami seemed content to play conservatively, chipping the puck out of the zone and not attacking. The RedHawks didn’t get one chance at an empty-net goal during that span, even when the Terriers weren’t getting strong offensive chances.
“They worked hard and got everything in the net,” said RedHawks’ captain Brian Kaufman. “With one extra guy, you can’t cover everybody.”
For his part, Blasi wasn’t second-guessing his players.
“(We) tried to keep our guys up, and unfortunately they got caught up in the moment and BU made a play that we talked about on the bench, actually. We knew exactly what they were going to do. We didn’t get the bounce at the end.”
“We’ve kind of dried up on our power play down the stretch here because so many teams have watched it all year and they’ve gotten better at killing it,” said Parker. “We weren’t as fortunate or the goals didn’t come as easy on the power play.
“That kind of blew games over for us earlier in the year, and that didn’t happen.”