Thursday, April 8, 2010

BC Can Win Tonight

The naysayers for Boston College have been out since before the NCAA Northeast Regional ended in Worcester two weeks ago.

"BC can't play good defense."
"Their goaltender has too many holes."
"They're going to get embarrassed at Ford Field."

And BC won the Regional, by the way.

Maybe I'm biased because I'm an alumnus, but I have confidence that BC can top top-ranked Miami tonight in Detroit and move on to the NCAA Championship game at Ford Field on Saturday evening.

As to the first criticism, BC's biggest problem on defense is that they're young, and start no less than three freshmen in Patch Alber, Brian Dumoulin and Philip Samuelsson. (It might be four if Patrick Wey wasn't sidelined with mononucleosis.) They're willing to hit, and they move the puck well; but sometimes they don't get it out, or don't rub opponents out, which is what happened in the 9-7 regional final win over Yale. The blueliners need to play a little grittier and not panic when things break down, and keep enemy forwards from skating to the net with impunity, and I'm sure they've worked on those shortcomings since March 28. The BC forwards will also have to continue to come back and help out defensively, and get in the face of opposing point men when they have the puck.

As for the second stigma, BC edged Alaska, 3-1, in the first round of the Regional, and Muse had a lot to do with that. If he didn't play the way he did that afternoon, there's a good chance the Nanooks move on to play Yale, and not the Eagles. Also, Yale was actually a pretty potent team this year, averaging more than four goals per game (no cracks about the ECAC, please), plus no less than three of the goals the Bulldogs scored against BC were on deflections in close. Those are tough for any netminder to stop, and Muse can't do it all by himself. Luckily he won't have, to if teammates apply themselves (see above).

As to the third charge - they've been to this stage before. The juniors and seniors on this year's BC team helped the Eagles to a national title two years ago in Denver, and they know what it takes to win it all. The seniors also know what it's like to come up on the short end in the last game, a la Michigan State in 2007, and you can bet they don't want to repeat that experience in their final weekend as collegians.

Concerning intangibles, the Eagles most of all have a solid coaching staff, led by Jerry York - you don't think they've worked on things the last 11 days to shore up the weaknesses that presented themselves at the Regional? Plus, the Eagles have shown they can definitely score goals this year - Cam Atkinson, Brian Gibbons, Joe and Steve Whitney, even Matt Lombardi as of late - and with their speed and tenacity up front, they can still light the lamp as well as anyone. (Hopefully the temporary ice surface at Ford Field holds up and permits them to use their skating ability.)

It won't be a cakewalk, of course. Miami is a very good team, with their own group of talented players who have been to the Frozen Four before. The Red Hawks (the old Redskins) would like nothing better than to erase last year's last-minute national heartbreak against BU, plus three years of coming up short in the NCAAs to the Eagles. They also have the memory of Brendan Burke to spur them on this time out.

But BC is here, and while they're here, the Eagles might as well win it. Whether they win 2-1 or 10-7 doesn't matter, which is as much as what York said in Worcester following the Yale shootout. As long as you're on the left side of the score, it doesn't matter how you do it, just so long as you do it.

BC can win tonight's game. As for Saturday - well, let's see about tonight first.

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