These are the three things I think I learned this week.
1. The Providence offense is coming on at just the right time.
For much of the season, the Providence scoring has been good, but not great. The Friars have displayed championship quality defense, but nothing amazing in the offensive zone.
That seems to be changing. A few weeks ago, the Friars lit up Massachusetts-Lowell, then one of the league’s top defensive clubs, 7-3. Then on Saturday, Providence took “lighting up” to a new level, shellacking Connecticut, 10-1. UConn had also been a strong defensive team.
Hey, it’s not as though the Friars are suddenly the second coming of the Gretzky Edmonton Oilers, but they’re putting it together at just the right time.
2. So much for that Beanpot distraction.
The theory has always been that the Friday night game between Beanpot Mondays is a tough one to get teams motivated for. You know, all that distraction of the big game ahead.
Well, all three Hockey East Beanpot teams won on Friday night. Boston University looked impressive, jumping out early on Lowell and winning, 5-2. BU’s championship game foe, Northeastern, took care of Massachusetts, 5-3, and consolation game-bound Boston College, defeated Merrimack, 4-2.
(Harvard did get shut out by Yale, 3-0, on Friday, then lost to Brown, 2-1. But we don’t really care about the Crimson, do we?)
Of course, perhaps the Hockey East trio of teams had ESP and knew the Beanpot was going to get postponed for two weeks, thereby avoiding the jinx through superpowers. Yup, makes sense to me.
3. Lowell is in trouble.
No team in college hockey went as long as the River Hawks did without a conference loss (until Jan. 10). But since then, it’s been uuuugly.
Wow. From undefeated to 2-7, including losses in six of their last seven games.
In reality, the first-half River Hawks weren’t quite as good as we thought they were. Some of those impressive-looking wins were over teams that haven’t been as good as expected.
A week ago, though, it looked like they had righted the ship. They lost at Merrimack, but dominated, outshooting the Warriors, 52-17, then won in the back end of the home-and-home.
But the River Hawks got off to an atrocious start against BU on Friday, falling behind 3-0 barely eight minutes into the game. Still, BU’s been such a strong team this year, that performance could perhaps be dismissed.
On Saturday, though, they faced UMass, which was 3-13-1 in Hockey East play, the first of three games against the Minutemen. Not to be unkind, but playing a 3-13-1 team ought to be the exilir a team needs.
Instead, Lowell fell behind early again and lost 5-2. And none of those five goals against were empty-netters.
Seems like it’s time to sound the Mayday! alarm.