Columnist Craig Meyer discusses fans’ expectations for BU hockey this year, and whether or not they should reconsider after a less-than-impressive start to the season.
By Jake Seiner/DFP Staff
Offense – Grade B-
The Terrier offense benefited from the team’s noticeable jump in effort and hustle. Two of BU’s three goals were the direct result of pressure on the forecheck forcing mistakes by Michigan goaltender Bryan Hogan. There is still work to be done in the offensive zone –– BU is still not crashing the net for Grade-A opportunities beneath the circles enough. That said, the Terriers played much harder tonight than in their previous games, and the fruits of that labor were felt in the offensive zone.
Defense – Grade C
Michigan outshot the Terriers, 35-22, which says a lot about the puck possession the Wolverines maintained. That puck possession can be largely attributed to a buzzing forecheck that forced turnovers in the offensive zone for Michigan all night. In the third period, the Maize and Blue ripped an astounding 30 shots, 21 of which ended up on net. Granted, BU was tired playing down two men –– Nick Bonino left the game in the first period with a separated shoulder and Eric Gryba was escorted off the ice 2:15 into the third period on a game misconduct for hitting from behind. But BU needed to make better decisions breaking out of their own zone and not put so much pressure on Kieran Millan.
Goaltending – Grade A-
BU’s skaters were tired, and in the third period, Michigan attacked in full force. The Wolverines aforementioned 30 shot attempts in the third period came from all over the ice, and there was little the defense could do about it. BU won the game because Kieran Millan put his tired teammates on his back and carried them to the end of regulation. Yes, he gave up two goals in the third, and yes, he was in position to make the save on both of them. But for the first time this season, Millan looked like the same kid who carried BU to a national title a year ago.
Special Teams – Grade B+
The BU penalty kill was, for the second game in a row, outstanding. Playing without PK specialist Luke Popko (flu) and Bonino, BU killed a huge 5-on-3 chance early in the third, constantly taking away passing and shooting lanes while holding Michigan to just eight shots on six power plays, killing all six chances. On the power play, BU got the job done, converting 2-of-8 chances. That said, BU still struggled mightily with puck possession, and the pointmen continued to make poor decisions that, combined with lackadaisical puck movement, gave Michigan a number of easy clears off turnovers high in the zone.
X-Factor – Faceoffs
BU came into the game winning faceoffs at an abysmal .452 rate, and they were going against a Michigan team that had won draws at a .546 clip. Yet, without two of their best faceoff guys (Bonino and Popko), BU held the Wolverines to a meager 32-31 faceoff advantage. The performance was especially key as the Terriers faced a lot of faceoffs from their own zone, and Michigan didn’t need any more help possessing the puck in the BU zone.
First-line center Nick Bonino will be out three-to-four weeks after dislocating his right shoulder in the first period of Saturday night’s 3-2 win over Michigan, according to BU coach Jack Parker. Near the end of the period, Bonino fell over a Michigan player in the offensive zone and landed hard on the shoulder.
Parker said that the training staff had already popped the shoulder back into place by the time Bonino got to the trainer’s room, but that it would take him a while to recover since it’s the first time he dislocated the shoulder. On the other hand, the fact that’s it the first time means Bonino will be less likely to have it pop out again once he’s recovered.
Someone like sophomore forward Ross Gaudet, who dislocated his shoulder for the eighth time in the last three years two weeks ago, takes a shorter time to recover, but is more likely to have it come out again.
After having what Jack Parker called their best practice of the season, the Terriers prepare to host No. 4/5 Michigan on Saturday night.
Bruins took care of the Nashville Predators last night, 3-2. Colin Wilson, making his first trip back to Boston as a pro, tallied the first goal of his NHL career. Rumor has it that those in attendance included Brandon Yip, Joe Pereira, Nick Bonino and Colby Cohen, in addition to some other guys.
By Jake Seiner, DFP Staff
Photo by Sarah Gordon, DFP Staff
Offense – Grade C
The Terriers did a handful of good things in Tuesday’s game, namely getting the puck to the net. But, as has been the case through two exhibition and two regular season games, shot totals don’t always equal goals, and UND netminder Brad Phillips turned away all 34 of BU’s shots, many of which hit him square in the chest. Unlike previous games, crashing the net was not a problem for the Terriers, who made a clear effort to get into the slot once shots were taken from the point. However, the effort was mooted by Notre Dame’s physical, collapsing defenders who cleared pucks away from Phillips’s feet before BU’s sticks could throw the puck back at the cage. Daily Free Bonus Fact of the Night: Tuesday was the first time in exactly 100 games BU was shutout.
Defense – Grade B-
The Terriers made only a handful of mistakes defensively Tuesday. In the first, Notre Dame generated a pair of breakaway chances off poor neutral zone play from BU’s upperclassman defenders –– a familiar story –– but otherwise, the only glaring mistakes occurred on UND’s three goals. On goal number one, Sean Escobedo screened Millan from the puck but failed to block the shot. On No. two, Millan and his defenders failed to communicate properly, and on goal No. 3, the BU penalty kill was caught drifting toward the UND zone as sophomore Chris Connolly failed to convert on a 1-on-1 chance against Phillips. Three mistakes, three goals. Otherwise, BU played very well defensively.
Goaltending – Grade C
Sophomore Kieran Millan has played like an above-average starting goaltender at the Division-I level in 2009-10, which is pretty good. Maybe it’s simply based on unattainable expectations set last year by the Edmonton, Alta. native, but pretty good is almost disappointing for Millan. Last season, if the Terrier offense stalled, it seemed like Millan always picked up his game and kept BU in the contest. Kieran has not in any way lost either game for BU this year –– but he hasn’t won them either, and that’s what Terrier fans expect based on last season. Fair? Probably not, but that’s the curse of success.
Special Teams – Grade D
This category really needs sub-grades. BU’s penalty kill was nearly perfect, with its only slipup coming after Connolly’s failed breakaway. That said, the power play gets a fully deserved ‘F.’ BU was 0-for-8 on the man advantage, and played incredibly slow with no sense of urgency during three power-play chances early in the first. Kevin Shattenkirk, Colby Cohen, Nick Bonino and Vinny Saponari all had turnovers leading to Notre Dame clearing the zone on those three chances alone. Parker classified BU’s efforts on those early PP chances as “inept,” and aside from David Warsofksy, who ripped an astounding nine shots from the left point alone, BU’s blue-liners played sloppy and hesitant all night. The squad improved as the game went on, but Parker and his staff have a lot of work to do with BU’s power play going forward.