These are three things I think I learned from this weekend’s games.
Three: Boston College’s top line is as good as its stats.
I wasn’t sure until I saw Chris Kreider, Bill Arnold, and Kevin Hayes in action on Friday. Krieder leads Hockey East in scoring (8-7–15), followed by Arnold (7-7–14) and then in fifth place, Hayes (3-8-11). But my brain was still locked on Cam Atkinson, Brian Gibbons, and Joe Whitney when I thought of dominant Eagles’ forwards. Last year, Kreider, Arnold, and Hayes were second bananas.
Krieder, Arnold, and Hayes each scored a goal on Friday against Maine to seize a 3-0 lead before the second period was even a minute old. And they did it every possible way: Kreider with a shorthanded goal, Arnold on the power play, and Hayes at even strength.
This is a top line to rank with any other in the country.
Two: Hockey East’s reputation as having the best top-to-bottom strength appears to be back in full force again.
Look at what happened on Saturday night.
- Massachusetts toppled BC, the number one team in the country, 4-2.
- Massachusetts-Lowell, which finished last year deep in the cellar and in the preseason was picked to miss the playoffs again, crushed 12th-ranked Boston University, 7-1.
- Undefeated Merrimack needed overtime to defeat Northeastern (picked to finish eighth) one night after the Huskies tied the Warriors in their own barn.
- Providence, which joined Lowell last year in missing the playoffs and was picked to finish last this season, completed a sweep of Vermont, 5-1.
Yes, schools like Boston College will remain Hockey East’s bellwether, but this weekend showed how dangerous every league team can be.
One: Rumors of New Hampshire’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.
When UNH opened the year 0-4-1 with some eye-poppingly bad statistics (such as one goal total in the first three games), its season appeared to teeter on the precipice. Sure, it was still October, but the hole the Wildcats had dug for themselves threatened to become too big to crawl out of.
So much for that idea.
The Wildcats have won four straight, including three within Hockey East, and have crawled out of the panic coffin to now stand tied for fourth place in the league with a 3-3 record.
Hey, it ain’t first place, but UNH appears to be back to being… well, UNH.