Looking back at the last several weeks of Bruins play there are some things that are readily apparent, like:

  • injuries
  • less capable replacements
  • mid season boredom
  • some atrocious calls by on ice officials and the office of Player Safety

What’s less apparent is that up until his injury, the Bruins were sliding Tuukka Rask into just about every other game. It started in late December, and continued on from there. Unlike years past where Thomas would get six or seven games then Rask one or two, Thomas for five or six, then Rask in one half of a back to back, then Thomas again for several games. The rinse and repeat continued unless one of the two had a much better record against a given opponent.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or Jack Adams winner to notice Tuukka Rask and Tim Thomas have different playings styles. Rask is a methodical butterfly goalie. He very rarely goes even one step outside the crease and the number of times he’s gone two steps outside the crease while play is below the dots can probably be counted on one hand. He plays upright, and in a very similar manner to goalies like Lundqvist. He’s also played well so far playing just the few games at a time and seems to wear down after five or six. In comparison to his crease crony he’s pretty passive in game play. Sure milk crates fear his very shadow, but other players?

Tim Thomas on the other hand uses what some have called the “battlefly” style. He’s aggressive. He’s athletic. He’s rarely still. He’ll come three or four steps outside the crease if he feels more confident about making the save half a dozen times a game and not consider it worth noticing. He’ll initiate contact with opponents. If he figured out how to do it and thought it would help he’d split himself in three to make saves.

While neither goalie is anyway an adept puck handler, where they leave the puck for their defenseman is often a little different. In addition to their playing style there’s a couple physical differences. Thomas looks like the “Tank” he is sometimes called. He’s shorter than Rask, barrel chested, and about thirty pounds heavier. Rask is whipcord over bone, tall, gangly and absolutely needs to make sure his shoulders are square on every shot to have a chance at saving it. He’s got much the same physical body type as David Krejci, but is even skinnier and several inches taller. The biggest similarity between the two is that both catch with their left hand.

All of these differences present adjustment difficulties for the skaters. Standing three strides out of the crease with Rask in net means you’re well clear of his comfort zone and likely have room to pivot and retrieve any pucks that leak through or hit him and fall straight in front of him. That same distance out is well within Thomas’s comfort zone. Then there’s the height difference. Neither is going to be able to see over Chara, McQuaid or Lucic, but if Ference, Bergeron, or one much of the team have their edges set for a puck battle either should be able to see over or around them depending on the angle, but Rask will have a slight advantage. Thomas has a better lateral range of the two by virtue of having a better glove, and rarely going down into a butterfly until a puck is inbound.

Most of the the time the two have shared the crease there has been a much wider split in games played, and barring injuries one subbed in for the other only intermittently. As different as their physical attribute are, and their playing styles making the adjustment two or three times a month at most may have kept players more aware of the difference and what they meant for their play. The constant back and forth in the weeks heading up to the Rask injury may have thrown all parties off.

Carolina Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner gets the first kicking suspension I’ve ever seen. The surprise top ten pick of the wayward Hartford Whalers has missed time this season with a concussion that cost him 16 games. Perhaps this injury explains how the former Calder Trophy winner who was universally lauded not just for his skill but for maturity could do something so utterly boneheaded.

This isn’t the first time he’s done something questionable:

Perhaps this finally answers the question of who Bill is talking about here:

At least this one Shanahan and company actually got right. Of course we’re still left with the question of how a kick is 2/3rds as bad as a head shot, and how a “clip” is worse than a head shot but hey what’s life without a few mysteries.

The Long View

When you look at some of the other teams to win the cup recently and what they did in their next year, most of it isn’t pretty. Duncan Keith had a bad year after the Cup win, by comparison Chara’s average to slightly above year is pretty nice.  Zetterberg played two more games, and scored 20 less points they year after winning the Cup, Lucic has 12 games left to the season and is only 9 points off of last years total.  Marc-Andre Fluery’s save percentage took a tumble  year over year, oddly enough he started off the year strong, and had a stumble with a train wreck of a month towards this time of year  and then bounced back in his post-Cup year. Even Nicklas Lidstrom had a down year in the post-Cup year.

With all the travel that the Bruins saw for the Eastern Conference finals schlepping back and forth from far north to far south in the US, not to mention a seven game series started without their best forward, then added to the cross continental 3 time zone shift four times and seven games and losing a top winger its not surprising they are having issues even this long later. Detroit, Chicago, and Pittsburgh all had much shorter trips between home and away. Chicago played Philly, Pittsburgh and Detroit played each other both years and none of those cities are all that far apart. The year after their Cup wins, Detroit finished with less points, Chicago finished not just with less points but made the playoffs on the last day.  As disconcerting as what we’re seeing is, it isn’t unprecedented or even as bad as it could be.

Trickle Down Weariness

The injury front presents a couple less apparent problems. Nathan Horton and Rich Peverley both went out it put bigger than apparent holes in the team. Horton’s physicality and size on a a team that is pretty small up front can’t be be overlooked. Of the top nine forwards left, when he went out only Lucic was over 200lbs. Krejci, Marchand, (Hamill), Seguin are all under 190lbs. Taking away that added ability to not just throw big hits, but withstand them and maintain control of the puck is huge. Add in his willingness to drop the gloves and pound the snot out of someone and you’ve got a second problem. The elephant in the room however is his powerplay production. Despite the slow start and the time missed, he’s still third on the team in powerplay goals.

Rich Peverley’s injury created it’s own fault lines and widened the ones left by the loss of Horton. Rich Peverley’s speed has always put him in the top tier of the NHL’s forwards. Unlike a lot of the company he keeps there he has not just straight line speed but an ability to go side to side and make sudden stops and starts that is very nearly unparallelled. Taking that speed and agility out means you’re left with Marchand and Seguin in the top nine with game changing speed, both of whom are smaller than Peverley and one of whom isn’t nearly as physical. When you drill into the stats and look at who does what on the team you find he’s still second in powerplay assists despite almost a month out. What’s worse is where he plays his special teams time. Most of his powerplay time is done at the point allowing one or more defensemen to rest, and he has averaged nearly two minutes a game of shorthanded time on ice.  That extra time has either gone to the already burdened Bergeron or Kelly, or slipped to Krejci and Marchand.

Caution Contents Easily Damaged

As if the physical injuries weren’t bad enough, the teams psyche has gotten fragile enough to make Rick Dipietro look like the model for endurance. The game against the Florida Panthers they put in their best effort in weeks right up until the Panthers second goal went in. Then  the Panthers could have been replaced by some the Lincoln Stars of the USHL, and still lost the game. I have no idea where the team that saw Nathan Horton get nearly decapitated at center ice and then come back to curb stomp the opposition went. Michael Ryder, Kaberle and Recchi moving on are insufficient reason for this many guys who have been there and done that to fall apart at the first sign of things not going their way.

Sluggish Metrics

The powerplay that had been in the top third of the league before the slump is now 14th. The penalty kill that was top five is now ninth. In comparison to the playoffs last year their hitting is down, as are their blocked shots. Worse what they are doing in front of the net is creating problems for the the goalies. Instead of committing to blocking a shot or letting the goalie see it, skaters are routinely setting screens. The puck will go in off their body or between two or more Bruins skaters on the way to the net. The shot shirking is bad enough it reminds me of various thankfully departed defensemen from years past.

Open Armed Welcome

When opposing players get to the crease, behind the net in that god awful trapezoid, or park themselves in the low slot no one does anything. It isn’t just Corvo who looks at opponents and wonders how long they have to think about getting a good draft at The Greatest Bar before whoever it is goes away. The softest most contact aversive forward in the league can now stand anywhere he likes and know for certain no one will drop him on his backside. Skate into the crease after the whistle? No problem. I’m honestly surprise the guys haven’t put a visitors sports bottle on the net for them.

Front Of Leadership

I think the trade deadline sent a very clear message to the team:

Front Office Message

We’ve got our hands over our eyes.

The best piece they traded away was Steve Kampfer, and got less in return. What the brought in were pieces they clearly don’t see any real use for. None of the three has a contract that runs past the end of the season. None of the three addresses a need at the time or now. Rolston does not have Horton’s physicality. Rolston does not have Peverley’s speed. Rolston also does not have their scoring ability.  Zanon and Mottau haven’t eased Chara’s penalty kill minutes. Zanon and Mottau haven’t taken up any of the scoring slack on a very low scoring defense. Zanon and Mottau aren’t injecting any real speed, physicality or poise into the lineup. When you come right down to it these guys fit the team the arrived too and not the team that is supposed to be here.

 

 

1: St Louis Blues

Good News: If the playoffs started today you’d go home with a Division Title and a Presidents Trophy.

Bad News: No underdog status for you!

2: Vancouver Canucks

Good News: It doesn’t look like you’re going to have to worry about the ‘curse’ of the Presidents Trophy.

Bad News: That probably has something to do with being a .500 team over your last ten.

3: Dallas Stars

Good News: It certainly appears the new owners faith in the team was rewarded by solid play.

Bad News: Uh, no one start a pillow fight with Lethonen, you might actually need him healthy in May for a change.

4: Detroit Red Wings

Good News: Despite a 3-6-1 spiral you’re currently clutching the last spot with home ice in the first round.

Bad News: Nashville has two games in hand, can win on the road and at home, and could be your opening round opponent.

5: Nashville Predators

Good News: Still something to play for; namely home ice advantage in the first round.

Bad News: The division title is almost certainly out of reach.

6: Chicago Blackhawks

Good News: Toews is on the mend.

Bad News: Six of your final ten games are on the road where the team has been routinely scalped this season.

7: Phoenix Coyotes

Good News: Playing well on both home ice and the road means all else being equal you’ve got a good shot in the playoffs.

Bad News: The division title is probably out of grasp.

8: Colorado Avalanche

Good News: Landeskog, McGinn, O’Rielly have given the team a late push into a playoff spot.

Bad News:  Don’t get used to the view, you’ve played more games with less ROW wins than anyone in range to take the 8 spot.

9: San Jose Sharks

Good News: All the key players are healthy.

Bad News: You’d never know the good news was true by looking at the 2-5-3 record in the last ten.

10: Calgary Flames

Good News: More ROW than anyone else from 8 down means the playoffs are still possible, especially with games in hand.

Bad News: Gotta win the games in hand.

11: Los Angeles Kings

Good News: Jeff Carter has finally warmed up.

Bad News: It will take more than just Carter and Quick to climb into the playoffs.

12: Anahiem Ducks

Good News: The playoff push since the new year were a valiant effort.

Bad News: Next year trying a smart effort from October might work better, and it might keep your prospects from jerking you by the short and curlies over where they sign after their college career is over.

13: Minnesota Wild

Good News: The teams weaknesses are easy to identify for off season attention.

Bad News: I’m not sure anyone trusts the current leadership to address the teams weaknesses.

14: Edmonton Oilers

Good News: Hooray! A better finish than last year!

Bad News: The free agent market probably isn’t going to provide enough to boost this club into the playoffs next year either.

15: Columbus Blue Jackets

Good News: Great draft potential at the top.

Bad News: Holding fan attention would probably be easier of that 1st pick overall and maybe the Kings first could be flipped for immediate help, but leadership probably will ask for six roster players, a prospect and three second round picks for them.

 

With the season winding down, its time to take a look at what’s happening for each team.

1: New York Rangers
Good News: Whoever you face in the 1st round will probably be wornout from three months of trying to make the playoffs.

Bad News: Unlike you they’ll have played meaningful games in the last thirty days and still be in that gear.

2: Boston Bruins
Good News: No injuries last game!! And you can’t play much worse.

Bad News: No one is sure if you care any more, probably including one third of the locker room.

3: Florida Panthers
Good News: You may have finally locked up a playoff spot for the first time in living memory.

Bad News: You’re likely to get stuck with the New Jersey Devils in the first round.

4: Pittsburgh Penguins
Good News: Sidney Crosby is ready to return….

Bad News: …no one knows how long he’ll last, or if the line shakeup will be good or bad.

5: Philadelphia Flyers
Good News: Your defense has looked better than the Boston Bruins lately.

Bad News: Bryzgalov has not had great post season success.

6: New Jersey Devils
Good News: Almost nobody knows how good you are.

Bad News: A lot of lucky bounces to go with all the skill, and no one knows how long the bounces or the revived MB30 will last.

7: Ottawa Senators
Good News: You’re just about assured a playoff spot, possibly the division title.

Bad News: You still give up too many goals to go deep in the playoffs.

8: Washington Capitals
Good News: There’s a good shot you could make the playoffs.

Bad News: It will probably convince the loafers, slackers and part time players nothing is wrong and to go on with business as usual.

9: Buffalo Sabres
Good News: You’ve made a valiant effort but the playoffs would require the gods own luck.

Bad News: You’ve made a valiant effort but the playoffs would require the gods own luck.

10: Winnipeg Jets
Good News: Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little, Evander Kane all have this season to build off of next year.

Bad News: No one listened to Noel’s pleas for more offense.

11: Tampa Bay Lightning
Good News: Your team is playing to its real potential this year.

Bad News: Your team is playing to its real potential this year.

12: Toronto Maple Leafs
Good News: Grabovski is locked up for a few more years.

Bad News: The free agent goalie market this summer doesn’t offer more than one or two upgrades.

13: Carolina Hurricanes
Good News: Justin Faulk and Jiri Tlusty have matured a lot as players this year and Jeff Skinner seems to have escaped lingering affects of his concussion.

Bad News: Still puddle deep overall as a team.

14: New York Islanders
Good News: Lots of growth among the young lineup.

Bad News: Not much hope in net or on defense long term.

15: Montreal Canadiens.
Good News: If you ignore everything you’ve done in the last five years you can draft better than anyone in the conference.

Bad News: Ownership and the general manager are the same people who created this mess.

The NHL has made a remarkable number of rule changes in the last half decade since the lockout. One or two of them down right idiotic, others ok, and one or two that are hugely beneficial. One of the ones in that first category has come up for review at this years General Managers meetings.

The trapezoid was one of the absolutely bizarre and unimaginably idiotic things that was spawned by the powers that be having way too much free time during the lockout.  The official goal was to improve the safety of the goaltenders. The unofficial (and real) goal was to take away the advantage of the goaltenders that can handle the puck well.

The belief was that the trapezoid would help stop teams from playing the neutral zone trap. They thought this would lead to smoother offense and more goal scoring. It was a knee-jerk reaction to the “dead puck era” that was solved quite handily by a newer, more athletic generation of players and the elimination of the two line pass rule.

 

What the didn’t understand is that this has led to more icings. Which has led to a certain small increase in icing related injuries. The purposed fix is an inane change to the icing rule that takes still more control out of the hands of the players and yet again lowers the intensity of play.

The simpler, smarter, more easily understood, less arbitrary, way to address the issue is to remove the trapezoid. Will every goalie go out to play the puck in the corner or out by the top of the circle? No of course not. But for the teams that have goalies like that it will be an advantage, it will aid offense at least as much as it does defense. It may even lead to less injuries to goalies. A goalie in a lop sided game who goes seven or eight minutes without facing a shot could start to tighten up, if they have the chance to make a quick skate to the side boards and pass the puck to a forward along the far boards while their team makes a line change it is going to keep them both mentally engaged and physically active.

For teams that have a young defense like the Ottawa Senators or a banged up defense like the Philadelphia Flyers the end of the trap could be a god send. A goalie who handles the puck well, like Brodeur who has at least a little bit of veteran savvy is going to make smarter outlet passes than than some rookie or sophomore defenseman. On a defense that’s missing a key player or two not having your remaining defensemen have to skate the extra hundred feet in each direction to retrieve the puck and then break it out again several times a night for months will save a lot of wear and tear. Realistically, there could also be less injuries around the blueline as outlet passes will have a higher potential number of players to go to.

In short eliminating the trapezoid is the only sensible rule change of all the ones I’ve seen discussed. It puts control in the hands of the playere and coaches, it removes artificial and unnecessary barriers to creative and exciting play and gives teams a way to perform as a six man unit.

The second of two parts. The first is here.

What’s wrong with the Bruins defense?

Chara, Ference, Seidenberg, Boychuk, McQuaid, Corvo have as a unit sucked ass not played to their potential of late. The most telling is Chara who has not only made poor decisions but been knocked down more often than Steve Rogers before he gets zapped and juiced into Captain America. He’s not skating well, he’s not shooting well, he’s not thinking well, and well you do the math. The rest of the defense, and much of their team plays to a similar level as their captain. He honestly looks nearly as sick as he did when he was held out of the Montreal series last spring.

Ference had his injury we all hope isn’t a return to the bad old days of the hobbled by a hinky groin Captain Planet. McQuaid and Seidenberg who are generally quite reliable defensively have just been off lately in a way that’s hard to nail down, it could be exhaustion, frustration or disgust, the shifts the two played together the other day made them significantly less than the sum of their parts. Boychuk has finally found his offensive gear again, but is also getting battered physically and not doing the battering.

Corvo for all that he often plays like a second pairing AHL guy has had several games where he looked like a legitimate NHL defensemen lately. Which is problematic in that it means much like another defenseman I could name you never know what you’re going to get from him.

As a group they are showing up and displaying the worst of their habits, they dally, shirk and shuffle across the ice without purpose or volition. It doesn’t take a hockey genius to know this is not a winning formula.

What’s wrong with the Bruins goaltending?

As a pair, I think the biggest issue is they have lost confidence in the team in front of them. Particularly the dallyfense. No ones hitting guys in or around the crease, no ones crushing anyone along the boards. guys aren’t getting chased down in the slot for the puck. Despite their faults, both have superb save percentages this year and say what you want neither of these two is responsible for the teams issues.

Rask: I don’t think that his knee was at 100% to start the season, and I’d lay money there was soreness a couple times during the year. Before the injury he’d lost six straight games. That isn’t normal for any good goalie. Whether you believe he’s “the goalie of the future and elite” or “an above average backup and second teir #1” six in a row is a bad thing, and you can’t blame him for most of it.

Thomas: Fatigue is part of the problem here. With last seasons games, the cup run and now this season, he’s played about as much action as many goalies will see in three seasons in just the last eighteen months. A bigger part is not getting into a rhythm. As a rule Thomas has played his best hockey in the regular season going seven out of ten or more. With the management choice to play Rask more, this hasn’t happened often.

What’s wrong with the Bruins as a whole?

There are three major issues with this team as group:

1: Injuries both those keeping people out, and those lowering performance theres a lot of downed talent. Of all the guys who missed the last game, or went out and didn’t finish the last game they have $18,332,143 in this cap space out of action. To put that in perspective, the three stars of the week 1: Ilya Kovalchuk, 2: Ilya Bryzgalov and 3: Jaroslav Halak have a combined cap hit of $16,083,334, meaning you could add them and still not equal the whole in the roster.

2: Fatigue. It’s true for the goalies, and just as true for the skates. The last game was a perfect example of why. Chara took at least two big hits per shift, as did Boychuk. Marchand gets leaned on, grabbed and shoved on a regular basis, Lucic as well. Add in the stress of knowing the team isn’t as deep as it should be due to other injuries and you’ve got enough to slow anyone down.

3: A certain us against the world fatalism. The suspensions to Bruins players for plays identical to or worse than their own contribute to a strong and justifiable belief that nothing is going to happen to anyone who crosses the line against them and that they will be punished out of proportion to their own actions. If you think the Marchand hit was suspendable, that’s fine. But in the same week, the same department handed out a shorter suspension for a blatant head shot.

No matter what danger a hit to the leg might cause to someones career it in no way exceeds a flagrant attempt to decapitate someone. Add in the Ference suspension, and then the fact that there weren’t even hearings for the hit by Sestito that may have ended Horton’s career, and the hit by Malkin that left Boychuk reeling to the list. Confusion is the most charitable thing the nicest of the Bruins has to be feeling, but given the level of assertiveness on this team disgust is probably a bit more common and hadly the most warm and cuddly. Whichever emotions they are, they all have a physical cause to maintain.

 What’s wrong with the Bruins Coaching?

If you think a team that’s seen one third of the opening night roster off the ice for a quarter of the ice has a problem with coaching you need better drugs. When the teams speed is pulled out from under it, when the unit that it draws it’s identity from, it’s defense, is both damaged and saddled with at least one sub-professional player that is not a coaching issue. Line changes have been proactive, defensive pairs have been tried, but no coach can make players healthier or more skilled.

What’s wrong with the Boston Bruins is a question I’ve been asked a couple times a week for about two, nearly two and a half months. The tailspin didn’t start with the losing, it started with some of the undeserved wins at the end of December. In January, it was bad luck and stupid injuries but there are several underlying factors some affect the team as a whole, some individual components.  For the sake of accuracy, we’ll include the injuries Sunday in the mix.

What’s wrong the Bruins top six?

Bergeron, Krejci, Lucic, Marchand, Seguin, Horton, Savard and yes in fact I can count. As a group,right now and for the last two or three weeks we’re seeing mental and physical burnout. Patrice Bergeron who is one of the fittest athletes in the NHL has sounded winded during his last two post practice radio spots. This is unheard of. He’s now injured with a probably bone bruise from blocking a shot.

Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin are in the middle of their second full NHL seasons. In addition to having the shiny of playing int he NHL wear off, they’ve got the after affects of the Stanley Cup run. The early season hangover was certainly the morning after, but for these two in particular and the team as a whole, this is that second wretched part of the night after when you get home but its a bit too early to go to bed. While it’s hard to call a performance that exceeds their previous campaign a sophomore slump consistency hasn’t been high.

Milan Lucic the wonder isn’t that he has so few goals, but so many. With Horton’s early struggles and Krejci non-existence for several weeks he was for all intents and purposes a one man line for a long time. Krejci has decided to check in again after searching the woods for Ilya Bryzgalov. The non biological, retraining issues of a concussion recovery took a bite out of his season even before he was waylaid by another hit to the head. Marc Savard, would be such a skill infusion.

With the injuries to the second six, the top six has been getting more ice time than usual, leading to less energy, more mistakes, more if not apathy than resignation at failure. Paile and Peverley’s injuries in particular have led to a lot more penalty kill time for other players.

What’s wrong with the Bruins second six?

Kelly, Peverley, Paille, Campbell, Thornton, Pouliot have been riven with injuries at various points this season. Broken feet, knee injuries, busted up faces the works. Injuries and inconsistency in the top six have pulled guys out of their comfort zone, and often over their head as well.  For all the effort he shows, Pouliot is not getting powerplay time on a healthy playoff contender. Shawn Thornton might be having a better points year than most of his career, but he’s playing less minutes and getting less results than last year and part of that is the time Campbell and Paille have spent dinged up.

One of the biggest losses to the roster from the second six is speed. Peverley and Paille give their linemates so much extra space with their speed its silly. Peverley is a bit more agile and can weave in and out of crowds with the best, but Paille can run up to and then run down anyone his size or larger. The breakaways that these to can create normally force opposing coaches to leave their second defensive out longer since most third pairings just don’t own both the skill and speed to keep up.

What’s wrong with the Bruins fill-ins and add-ons?

Hamill, Caron, Kampfer, Sauve, MacDermid, Rolston, Zanon, Mottau, Camper, Turco, Whitfield, Bartkowski…the first problem is that their are two damned many of them which has a not so incidental bearing on the second problem. The second one being ill defined roles. The best illustrations of this are Rolston who since coming over has played on both wings, two different powerplay units and two different lines. Zach Hamill is an even better example, he played on all four lines, all three center positions and with at least seven different linemates when he wasn’t in and out of the lineup.

Obviously none of this group is the issue. But not knowing where you’re supposed to be in hockey is the next worst thing to playing blind.

This is a two part post, the rest of which will post soon.

Like most New Englanders there’s not a lot in the way of college sports in my life. I do try and remedy that by flicking on a game here or there. Tournaments always draw my attention. Tournaments that feature some prominent NHL prospects more so. New York Rangers prospect Chris Kreider, Chicago BlackHawks Sophomore Kevin Hayes, and Boston Bruins blueliner of the future Tommy Cross headlined for the counts of the Conte Forum.

The visitors from Umass Amherst were a little lighter on NHL prospects. The final count for NHL prospects on the rosters was nine for Boston College and one for UMass Amherst. Teamwork, good coaching, and heart are more important in hockey than in any other sport. In the the first two periods the Boston College dominated play, aided by a five minute major to Steven Guzzo of UMass in the early first period.

The best player of the game was not a however a player who had their name called in the NHL draft. It was wasn’t even a member of the Eagles. Manapalan New Jersey’s Kevin Boyle stood between the pipes for the Minutemen. He was all UMass needed to make it a game at 6 foot 1 he’s smaller than the current trend towards gigantic goalies in the NHL, but about the same size as the last three men to win the Vezina, Tim Thomas, Ryan Miller and Martin Broduer. With an average goalie the game would have been out of hand by the end of the first period as the Eagles kept UMass hemmed in for most of the major and then rest of the period as well.

The third period belonged to Boyle and two other UMass players. Don Cohoon took his best skaters and barred them from the bench. Michael Marcou and Joel Hanley probably put in over twelve minutes a piece in the third period, after taking regular shifts in the first and second. In their own zone they got to pucks first and got them out. In the offensive zone their passing and puck protection was key. With just a little more luck, or Guzzo not getting tossed for hitting from behind minutes into the game Boyle, Marcou and Hanley would have stood equal to or better than all the NHL prospects on the other side.

Final score Boston College Eagles 3 – UMass Amherst MinuteMen 2.