BU beat their first Boston opponent of the season on Tuesday night, overcoming No. 9/12 Harvard 5-2 at Agganis Arena. Here are my three takeaways from what I believe was BU’s best win of the season thus far. All opinions are my own.
Simplicity was the key on offense
Albie O’Connell noted after the win that BU was getting the “crazy plays” out of their game, and to me, that improvement was what powered the Terrier attack to their second-highest goal total of the season on Tuesday night. Their scores won’t show up on SportsCenter any time soon, but BU did what they had to do to get back on the board. They forechecked well for Zegras’s goal. They went to the net for Mastrosimone’s goal. They found the open man for Curry’s goal. They shot aggressively for Crotty’s goal. These are all plays that the BU attack has lacked at times recently, but they put it all together to get by the Crimson, and started to “play the right way” as Coach O’Connell has talked about.
Settling down on defense made all the difference
In the early stages of Tuesday’s clash, I thought the BU defense looked as bad as they have all season. On top of surrendering two grade-A shorthanded opportunities on their first power play, conceding a goal on one of those occasions, the Terriers kept finding themselves chasing attackers and defending odd-man rushes, at times with a forward as the only man back. Luckily, Sam Tucker was there to bail the hosts out early, and as the game wore on, the BU defense found their rhythm. The Terriers didn’t allow an even-strength goal to the top-scoring offense in the country, who came in averaging five goals per game. The offense will get the headlines, but the defensive performance down the stretch fueled the win.
BU had its best 60-minute effort of the season
It has become somewhat of a running joke that the Terriers better build a three-goal lead early when they play at home, because when the third period comes around, they’re guaranteed to give up a flurry of goals. On Tuesday night, though, this wasn’t the case. In fact, it was BU who got on the board to begin the final frame, and I thought continuing to attack but playing smart on offense was what helped the Terriers thwart a Harvard comeback bid. The BU defense was organized in the third aside from one lapse that allowed a power-play goal, and when they went forward, they did so with a clear focus to not get caught on the break the other way. This combination frustrated the Crimson and helped BU see out the victory.
With the holiday break on the horizon, BU will close out the unofficial first half of the season when they host No. 8/12 Northeastern on Saturday at 7 p.m.