It was a busy week for BU, with a trip to Madison Square Garden to face No. 2 Cornell in Red Hot Hockey on Saturday night and a matchup with No. 9/12 Harvard at home on Tuesday night. BU went 1-1 on the week, and to share my thoughts on the action, here is my weekly column. All opinions are my own.
BU bounced back
After the Sacred Heart loss, I was concerned that this stretch might get ugly. With three top-ten teams on the schedule after a long, testing run in conference play, the Terriers could have really struggled with this final slate of games. Instead, they took these challenging contests in stride, giving the undefeated Big Red a run for their money before knocking off Harvard three nights later.
A tale of two games on offense
Between being shut out against Cornell at Red Hot Hockey and then putting up five on Harvard the next game, these two performances really were night and day for the BU attack. We’ve seen a lot of offensive experimenting over the last few games, and while the changes were ineffective at MSG, something really seemed to click against the Crimson, bringing BU back to life.
Reworking the forward lines did the trick
In an effort to spark the offense, Coach O’Connell has shuffled the lines quite a bit lately. As you may have heard on this week’s podcast (give it a listen!), I questioned this tactic because there seemed to be a lack of chemistry across each new trio of forwards. Well, BU’s output in the Harvard game made me eat my words, as the attack looked balanced and re-energized by the changes.
Sam Tucker quietly stays solid
Among the ups and downs of the skaters, it’s easy to forget about just how good Sam Tucker has been in net recently. When called upon this past week, he was close to perfect. Tucker has made the saves he should make while contributing some real beauties in big spots, and I think he deserves a lot of the credit for BU only conceding four goals against two of the nation’s top offenses.
Can the Terriers make it two?
Tuesday’s win over Harvard was huge — no doubt about it. However, everyone will forget about that victory if BU puts up a dud against Northeastern this Saturday. In order to prove that they are really headed in the right direction, BU will need to follow up its last performance with another impressive effort. If they can, I think they’ll win over some fans going into the holiday break.
Can BU hit the holiday break strong?
Perhaps this question is a continuation of the previous one, but I think it’s still worth separating the two. To me, closing out the first half on a positive note is not dependent on a win. If BU hangs with the favored Huskies for 60 minutes and comes up just short, I’d still call that an encouraging showing against a top-ten side. A win is ideal, but a narrow loss wouldn’t be a total failure.
What will we see from the BU-NU rivalry?
Early Twitter bouts have shown that the fan sections on each side are ready to reignite this rivalry, and I’m expecting some tension on the ice as well. Northeastern and BU played to two overtime finishes in tournaments last season, and I don’t think anyone has forgotten how competitive those games were. Let’s see if this clash can live up to the bar set last February and March.
BU and Northeastern will face off on the Agganis Arena ice on Saturday night at 7 p.m.