No.8 Boston University Terriers (2-0-1(0-0-1HEA)) vs. UMass Minutemen (0-2-1(0-0-1HEA))
For the second time in as many games, the Mass Attack will face off against Boston University and its high powered offense tonight. Last weekend, BU scored two early goals and peppered freshman netminder Jeff Teglia (0-0-1, 3.25GAA, .895save%) with 35 shots. However, third period goals by Darren Rowe and Marc Concannon forced an overtime that ended in a draw. Tonight will have the same concerns as last weekend.
First of all, goaltenders. Fear The Triangle is reporting that Teglia will start tonight. Although I have seen nothing to corroborate this, we all know that his information is solid so I will have to assume Teglia will be the starter. Teglia was pretty fantastic last weekend, saving 33 out of 35 shots, making Hennessy yell out of excitement numerous times in the process. Unfortunately, the reason Hennessy had to yell was that the Terriers had a lot of good scoring chances. This is the same problem the Mass Attack had in Minnesota; the defense needs to tighten up. This is a team problem, not just a problem with the defensemen. Paradoxically, there is both too much and not enough movement. At times, everyone seems to be watching the puck and aggressively pursuing it while the one or two skaters not pressuring the puck are just standing still and not covering the offensive players they are responsible for.
To not cover BU’s skaters is to make a huge mistake. Had Teglia not been out-of-his-mind-on-fire last Saturday, the Minutemen could have easily given up four or five goals. I don’t think I need to remind anyone about the existence of Chris Connolly (1G/2A/3Pts/+2), Joe Pereira (3G/1A/4Pts/+1), or David Warsofsky (2G/3A/5Pts/+2). And I don’t think I need to remind anyone of the 6 and 7 goal embarrassments BU handed out to the Minutemen last season (Although those were both at Agannis).
Other than Jeff Teglia’s sparkling performance last weekend, the bright spot on this year’s UMass team has been the offense. Averaging three goals a game may not be a fantastic statistic, but it will keep you in games and the Mass Attack could easily have more if they could just fine tune their passing a little and finish their chances. The most impressive offensive players thus far have been TJ Syner (2G/1A/3Pts/+2), Darren Rowe (2G/1A/3Pts/+2), Michael Marcou (1G/2A/3Pts/-2), and Mike Pereira (1G/1A/2Pts/even). Pereira, in particular, could have had more goals if he finished his chances, which have been many.
The offense does, however, need work on the powerplay, where they are just 2 for 16 (12.5%) on the season. The PK needs work too; The Mass Attack penalty killers have only managed to kill nine penalties out of thirteen (69.2%), although they did go a perfect 4-for-4 against BU last weekend. BU’s powerplay has been better than the Mass Attack’s (23.1%) and their PK has been much better (88.2%), so scoring on the powerplay tonight may prove difficult.
So the game plan should be the same as last week. The defense needs to be tighter, they can’t give up early first period goals, and they need to pepper whoever’s in net with lots of rubber. Kieran Millan, while not as spectacular as Teglia was, had very good night last Saturday, stopping 28 of 30 shots. Saturdays numbers boosted him to very respectable 1-0-1, 2.40GAA, .912 save% numbers. However, Millan has been known to have off nights in the past and he certainly isn’t an Alex Beaudry or a Carter Hutton (Although, so far this year Alex Beaudry doesn’t look like an Alex Beaudry, either).
Hopefully, the crowd is a positive factor. Tonight’s game is televised on NESN (UMass has been 0-4-0 on NESN in the last two seasons), and it’s the home opener, and it’s against BU. So, everyone will be there. Here’s a tip for you hockey neophytes out there. If somebody who looks like they know what they’re doing starts a chant and you don’t understand it, just go along with it anyway. As fun as it is to yell it, there are more hockey chants than “Fuck BU!” You gotta trust me on this one.
Other Hockey East Teams in Action this Weekend:
Providence @ UMass Lowell
No.7 UNH @ Northeastern
No.2 North Dakota @ No.12 Maine
Northeastern @ UMass Lowell
Providence @ No.8 BU
Merrimack @ Vermont
No.2 North Dakota @ No.12 Maine
No.1 BC @ No.17 Notre Dame