With December just around the corner, the Boston University men’s hockey team’s 2016-17 season is roughly one third of the way done. Wow, how time has flown by.
The Terriers stand at 7-4-1, injuries have taken their toll and players have grown into roles, either beyond or under expectations. In the mood of reflection, one way to ascertain how head coach David Quinn’s team is faring so far is by breaking down the numbers.
Statistics, of course, must be taken with a grain of salt. There’s the straightforward ideology that you either can put the puck in the net or not, that you stay out of the box or get a bit too comfortable in there. But there’s also the ideology that stats don’t tell you about the little details, the intangibles and one’s hockey IQ.
Which school of thought has more merit is up to debate, but the fact remains: It’s important to break down who is or isn’t performing.
Without further ado, here’s some surface-level analysis of the Terriers through their first 12 games.
Pegged as Hockey East’s top team in the preseason poll, as buoyed by a hyped-up, nine-member freshman class, the Terriers have consistently been a top-10 team.
As compared to other teams in the conference, namely Boston College and UMass Lowell, BU is keeping pace. The low point came after Denver handed Quinn’s side two consecutive losses, but impressive wins over Quinnipiac, Harvard and Michigan stand out.
So, how has BU fared from a national perspective? Pretty darn well.
To the surprise of nobody, Clayton Keller led the way early on for the Terriers. He had nine points in his first seven games, and then a lower-body injury came around on Nov. 5 and halted his freshman campaign.
That paved the way for the first line of Patrick Harper, Jordan Greenway and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, which has been electric. They’ve combined for 32 of BU’s 107 points, but there’s plenty of other players chipping in, too.
Namely, Charlie McAvoy and Dante Fabbro are pacing the BU D-corps, while second line stalwarts Bobo Carpenter and Kieffer Bellows are also keeping pace.
The Terriers are averaging 3.2 goals a game, largely the product of being shut out twice and offensive clinics against the likes of Sacred Heart, Colgate and Harvard.
Through those ups and downs, Keller, Harper, Greenway, Bellows and Nick Roberto have paced BU’s forward ensemble. These Terriers can score at will when all cylinders are firing, so there’s little to worry about in this regard.
Still, one could argue that Forsbacka Karlsson, McAvoy, Fabbro and Carpenter should be lighting the lamp more.
What’s perhaps most remarkable about BU’s 2016-17 team is how many creative forces there are in and around the opponent’s net.
There’s Harper’s deft stickhandling, Greenway’s physically imposing style down in the corners, McAvoy’s x-ray vision from the point and Forsbacka Karlsson’s smooth-as-can-be play in all zones. The buck doesn’t stop there, either, with Carpenter’s hard-nosed style and Keller’s high-end skill.
Still, Bellows and Chad Krys aren’t tossing out helpers perhaps as much as they should be.
As simple as it sounds, the Terriers are a better team when they’re playing 5-on-5 hockey. They’re dominant at times even, and Quinn has repeatedly stressed that he wants his team to take four or less penalties a game.
But that’s hardly been the case throughout the 2016-17 season. They’re taking 15.8 penalty minutes per game, the 19th highest total in the country.
The main culprits for that have been Greenway, Bellows, Brandon Hickey and Doyle Somerby, but the problem has been remedied some as of late. Furthermore, BU has killed 90.7 percent of its opponent’s power plays, good for fifth best in the country.
In other words, it’s a mixed bag.
While there are other statistical areas to sift through, these five areas tell quite a lot about BU’s performance throughout 2016-17.
The guys everyone expected to perform – Harper, Keller, Bellows, Greenway, Forsbacka Karlsson and McAvoy, among others – are proving their worth. But there’s intricacies in each category to comment on, so we invite you BU hockey fans to share your thoughts.
Who should be pulling more weight? Has anyone stood out to you? Are you desiring more from Quinn’s team?