The Boston University men’s hockey team served up a mixed bag this past weekend, splitting a Friday-Saturday series with the University of Michigan.
The first clash was about as ugly as it gets, as head coach David Quinn’s side fell, 4-0, to the Wolverines. After a changed lineup and renewed energy, the Terriers bounced back, winning the second encounter, 4-2.
In light of those seesaw-like performances, we offer up some thoughts on BU’s current run of form. Hint: There was some good, some bad and some ugly.
- Penalties: BU surely wishes it came home with more points from its trip to Michigan, but the brightest takeaway was reduced penalties. After totaling six penalties in Friday’s loss, the Terriers spent only six minutes in the box on Saturday. The young Terriers have had difficulty limiting careless penalties to start the season, but last weekend was a positive sign for Quinn’s squad. Quinn’s goal for his team is no more than four penalties per game, and Saturday’s win was the first time that the Terriers were under the limit. If BU can continue this trend and keep five guys on the ice more consistently, they’ll be just fine. – Nick
- Patrick Curry: He didn’t total a point in the two games at Michigan, but Curry is making his presence felt on the third line. With so many forwards struggling with injuries, the freshman has relied on his physicality and smart play to surpass expectations. He scored his first collegiate goal Nov. 4 at Northeastern, and if Curry keeps it up, we’ll likely see his name on the score sheet a lot more. – Nick
- Road games: After splitting a pair of games with Michigan last weekend, the Terriers are now 2-3-1 on the road, as opposed to 3-0 at Agganis Arena. This is definitely a bit troubling considering how talented this team is from top to bottom. There’s no doubt that BU won’t get very far come springtime if they can’t figure out how to win away from Comm. Ave. BU next plays on the road this Friday at UConn, and doesn’t travel again until a conference matchup with Providence on Dec. 2. Still, something to keep an eye on. – Nick
The Small Five
- Jake Oettinger: The freshman netminder possesses enormous talent, and his 6-foot-4 frame boosts his NHL potential. But fans sometimes forget Oettinger is only 17 years old, an age that’s typical associated with peaks and valleys, with highs and lows. Friday’s game was definitely a low, as Oettinger let in three of the 20 shots he faced, only to rebound on Saturday and make 27 saves. The fact the former U.S. NTDP ‘tender didn’t wilt in the face of adversity is an encouraging sign, and he now boasts a 1.79 goals against average and .932 save percentage. – Jonathan
- Jordan Greenway: Last weekend’s series against Northeastern was a tough one for the sophomore forward, who received a 10-minute misconduct in the 4-4 overtime tie and was benched during the first period of the 3-0 win. But his showing on Saturday was immense, as he registered a goal and two assists, all in the third period. Even when BU was blanked in Friday’s 4-0 loss, Greenway was leading the charge, firing three shots on goal.– Jonathan
- Injuries: While the Terriers will shy away from excuses, the absence of freshman forward Clayton Keller, sophomore forward Ryan Cloonan and junior forward Nik Olsson was tangible. All three bring a little something extra – Keller the top-end skill, Cloonan the simple things and Olsson a physical presence – that BU would have benefited from. They’re top-nine forwards, too, so anyone discounting their injuries is misguided. – Jonathan
- Lineup change: Perhaps the most surprising part of Saturday’s tilt was that junior Brien Diffley and sophomore Shane Switzer didn’t play defense. That’s right, they played as forwards, respectively earning their second and first appearances of the year. This shift likely isn’t a long-term solution, but it’s an interesting development nonetheless. – Jonathan
- Skill vs. grit: We had an interesting discussion in Friday’s live blog about how NHL-level skill translates to college hockey. In other words, is silky-smooth hands and a high hockey IQ more valuable than veteran savvy and grit? BU definitely has a surplus of the later with 11 NHL Draft picks, but the former category isn’t nearly as present. Is that a problem? We’re not entirely sure, but it’s surely something Quinn’s staff has discussed at some point. – Jonathan