What do the numbers say about BU hockey’s 2016-17 season so far?

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Kieffer Bellows has endured an up-and-down start to his BU hockey career. PHOTO BY JUSTIN HAWK/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

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.

National Ranking

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.

Points

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.

Goals

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.

Assists

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.

Penalty Minutes

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?

Best of 2014-15: Ranking the top 10 Terrier assists from the season

As part of our “Best of 2014-15” segment, the Boston Hockey Blog crew is counting down some of the top plays/quotes/games from this past BU hockey season. Here is our second post, in which we rank our top 10 favorite assists from the 2014-15 campaign:

10. Matt Grzelcyk to Nikolas Olsson (3/21/15 vs. UMass Lowell)

We open our list with this impressive set of plays from junior captain Matt Grzelcyk and freshman winger Nikolas Olsson during the Hockey East title game against the River Hawks.

With BU leading 3-1 with under a minute to go in the second period, Grzelcyk and Olsson broke out on a 2-on-1 blitz into Lowell’s zone. Olsson sent the puck to Grzelcyk at the high slot, who quickly launched the disc back to Olsson just a second later. The puck bounced off Olsson’s stick and into the UML net to give BU a commanding three-goal lead.

9. Danny O’Regan to Jack Eichel (2/13/15 vs. UNH)

Freshman center Jack Eichel and junior winger Danny O’Regan teamed up on multiple goals throughout the season, but we figured that this 2-on-1 score serves a great intro for these two forwards.

After O’Regan forced a turnover just outside of UNH’s zone, both he and Eichel traded the puck before the San Jose Sharks prospect careened the biscuit back over to Eichel, who sniped it into the nearly empty net to give BU a 3-1 lead over the Wildcats at 4:14 in the second.

8. Evan Rodrigues and Jack Eichel to Danny O’Regan (1/30/15 vs. UMass Amherst)

In what eventually resulted in a 9-5 slugfest win for the Terriers over UMass Amherst on Jan. 30, BU’s first line once again orchestrated the most impressive tally on the night.

BU was already holding onto a 1-0 lead in the first when senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues fired a backhand shot to the net. The puck was drawn in by Eichel at the crease, who zipped it over to O’Regan for the easy tap-in goal.

7. Jack Eichel to Danny O’Regan (11/14/14 @ Maine)

Throughout the season, Eichel used his speed and playmaking ability to generate offense, even when the Terriers were down a skater. One of the best instances of such a scenario occurred when the Terriers faced off against Maine on Nov. 14 up in Orono.

BU was forced to go on the penalty kill with the game tied 1-1 in the closing minutes of the second period, but Eichel and Co. were quickly able to turn the tables on the Black Bears.

BU’s freshman center forced a turnover in the Terriers’ zone before outskating three Maine players down the left side of the ice. After blowing past his opponents, Eichel sent the puck over to an advancing O’Regan at the right post, who flipped the puck over Maine goalie Sean Romeo to give BU a 2-1 lead with 14 seconds left in the period.

6. Nick Roberto to Matt Lane (11/21/14 vs. Maine)

While an impressive set of plays from Eichel and junior forward Ahti Oksanen (found further down on this list) might have landed BU its first goal on the night against Maine on Nov. 21, it was the Terriers’ third line that tied the score midway in the third period.

With just over nine minutes left in regulation, freshman winger A.J. Greer passed the puck from behind the Maine net to sophomore forward Nick Roberto in the right slot. Roberto quickly fired a backhand pass to junior center Matt Lane across the slot, who then tucked the puck past  Romeo to tie the game, 2-2.

5. Jack Eichel to Ahti Oksanen (11/21/14 vs. Maine)

Staring at a 2-0 deficit against the Black Bears in the third period, the Terriers used yet another crafty pass from Eichel and a strong shot from Oksanen to claw back into their contest.

After blocking a shot in BU’s zone, Eichel exchanged passes with O’Regan before coasting into Maine’s side of the ice, eventually dealing a backhand helper across the slot to Oksanen, who one-timed it into the cage to put BU on the board. The Terriers eventually bested Maine in overtime off of a game-winning strike from Eichel.

4. Jack Eichel to Cason Hohmann (3/14/15 vs. Merrimack)

Playing in their final game at Agganis Arena for the 2014-15 season, the Terriers got on the board in the second game of their Hockey East quarterfinal series by way of a shorthanded rush from Eichel and senior assistant captain Cason Hohmann.

With the game deadlocked with no score after the first period, BU was forced to head on the penalty kill after Grzelcyk was whistled for cross checking at 2:11 in the middle stanza.

The disadvantage mattered little for Eichel and Hohmann, who broke into a 2-on-1 chance against Merrimack goaltender Rasmus Tirronen. Eichel gathered the puck on the right side and faked a pass before eventually sending the puck to Hohmann, who easily slid it past Tirronen to light the lamp for BU. The Terriers would go on to win, 5-0.

3. Jack Eichel to Ahti Oksanen (10/4/14 vs. St. Thomas)

While it might not have officially counted in the record books, Eichel’s impressive helper to Oksanen in the Terriers’ 12-1 win over St. Thomas deserves mention on our list.

On a 2-on-1 bid with Oksanen, Eichel dangled his way to the right slot before dishing the puck at the last second to his junior teammate, who then fired it into the net to give 2-0 lead at 10:31 in the first period. Oksanen finished the contest with four goals, while Eichel chipped in with five assists.

2. Jack Eichel to Danny O’Regan (12/6/14 vs. Merrimack)

The Terriers concluded a three-goal second period against Merrimack with an impressive set-up from Eichel, who fired a no-look drop pass from the left end boards to O’Regan in the slot.

O’Regan fired the puck past MC goalie Colin Delia to give BU a 4-1 lead. The strike completed a hat trick for O’Regan and Eichel’s fourth point on the night.

1. Ahti Oksanen to Danny O’Regan (2/28/15 @ Northeastern)

After jumping out to a 2-0 lead over the Huskies, the Terriers continued on the offensive, earning a power-play bid with just over six minutes remaining in the first period.

After collecting the puck at the crease off of a pass from Rodrigues, Oksanen promptly pulled off a no-look, between-the-legs maneuver to a waiting O’Regan, who notched his 100th career point with the Terriers thanks to his 19th goal at 13:53.