Tagged: MUST WIN

Doesn’t it always come down to this?

Walsh has some more pressing things to deal with at the moment, so it’s me, Max, to the rescue with your weekend preview of the Maine series. So without further ado, here are the keys to #WINNING.

1) The playoff scenario is pretty clear. UMass, Vermont, and Providence – three teams, two playoff slots. UVM gets Lowell for two. Providence gets Merrimack for two. The most likely scenario is UVM wins two and clinches 7th place, and Providence loses both and would finish out of the playoffs. UMass just needs to win one of these two games and it would take a miracle sweep for the Friars to knock out UMass. But a win tonight and a Providence loss would clinch that playoff spot and take all the pressure off of senior night. Let’s try to do that one.

2) Maine hasn’t won a game in Amherst since October 2005. I was still a BU fan back then – that’s how frickin’ long it’s been. Meanwhile, let’s look at some fun shit.

Note: Fucking Hockey East Online. I can never get this stuff to format properly, and if you think I’m not too lazy to retype it all, you obviously don’t know me very well.

Fri
03/02/07
vs. MAINE *
W 3-1
Box
Recap
Sat
03/03/07
vs. MAINE *
W 5-3
Box
Recap
Fri
03/09/07
vs. MAINE

Hockey East Quarterfinals
W 3-2
Box
Recap
Sat
03/10/07
vs. MAINE
Hockey East Quarterfinals
W 5-2
Box
Recap

And then…

Fri
02/20/09
vs. MAINE hea
W 4-3 OT
Sat
02/21/09
vs. MAINE hea
W 4-3

And oh yeah, even though it wasn’t in Amherst…

Fri
03/05/10
at Maine hea
W 5-2
Sat
03/06/10
at Maine hea
TV-WABI
W 4-3

So, seriously, guys. It’s tradition. Don’t fuck this up.

3) A glance at Maine’s top three scorers: Gustav Nyquist (16-26-42), Spencer Abbott (15-20-35), Brian Flynn (18-14-32). They’re all juniors. Needless to say, if Gus returns for his senior year (he’s Red Wings property), combined with UNH losing its formidable senior class and Merrimack’s inevitable return to Earth with Cannata graduating and the Flyers hovering around Da Costa like vultures, Maine will be likely to give BC a run for its money next year.

But that’s next year. This year, even with all that talent, they enter the weekend out of a home ice slot in Hockey East, although they walloped Merrimack last weekend. And we all know how important home ice can be in the playoffs. Hopefully, the pressure gets to them like it did a year ago, and that was on their own home ice!

4) Dan Sullivan is fucking ridiculous. Like, almost Tim Thomas-in-Boston-this-year ridiculous. Well, okay, not rally. But a 2.28 GAA. A 90.3 save percentage – not the greatest ever, but pretty damn good for a freshman. But, uhh, fuck it. Break him. His mom’s name is Doris, by the way. (And just for good measure, in case we see another goalie, Shawn Sirman’s mom’s name is Heather. Martin Ouellette’s mom’s name is…uhhh…France Gagnon? What the fuck kind of name is that? You can’t even chant that. Never mind. Call him Frenchie or Marty McFly or something, I don’t even know.)

4a) BTW, “Wilson” chants are, and always will be, still relevant somehow.

4b) Oh, and “She-Man” chants for Adam “I like to fake getting seriously injured so my team can be justified in headhunting Casey Wellman, then play the very next night because it was all an act, and also my name sounds girly” Shemansky. He’s #26. And he sucks.

5) We are all rooting for UNH this weekend, and not just because I’d root for the Yankees, Canadiens, Jets, and Lakers if they were all playing BC. But really, the tiebreaker scenarios only involve that series in one unlikely situation: the bottom 3 all winding up tied with 17 points if UMass and Maine tie both games. Then, the three-way tiebreakers (I believe) come down to the teams’ record against the conference champion, and so the difference between 7th place and 9th place (thus sharing the basement with Lowell)  will be whether UNH or BC finishes atop the conference. TL;DR: UNH-BC probably means nothing, but the only way it helps us is if UNH wins.

6) It’s for the seniors. Saunders, Keane, Langeraap, Kubbie, Concannon, Lecomte, and of course Dainton. It’s certainly not the greatest senior class we’ve ever had (although it might have been if certain people had stayed) but it is one of the most likable and hard-working. They deserve one last gasp against BC or UNH next weekend, both of whom UMass has shown they can hang around with this year. It’s the playoffs. Anything can happen.

6a) Oh, that goes for the senior fans, too. Matt and Derek and Ben in particular, and also everyone else who has spent the last four years making the trek to the Bill to cheer on this team. This senior class has had a rough go of it hockey-wise, and, while likely, it would suck if they went their whole four years without seeing a Garden run. It was bad enough for my class, getting that taste freshman year and never seeing it again. This freshman class has a bright future, no matter how much this year has sucked, and a surprise run right now would be a great springboard going forward. They’ve been so damn close to breaking through for four straight games. Which ties in to my final key:

7) Winning. Duh.

-Max

P.S. There are also temporary plans to join Triangle in gracing Garber Field with our presence as our 9th-ranked(!) lax team takes on Brown, which is the color of poo. But we make no promises.

Tonight: No. 15 UMass Minutemen (15-10-0 (10-8-0 HEA)) vs. Providence Friars (9-14-1 (4-12-1 HEA))

What can be said about the Providence Friars that cannot be said about Afghanistan? That shit is bombed out and depleted. The Friars are once again trapped in the Hockey East basement and that is truly where they deserve to be. They score, by far, the fewest goals of any team on Hockey East (ONLY 1.88GPG in Hockey East play). They don’t have a single player with double-digit goals on the season, let alone in conference play, and only three skaters with double-digit point totals in Hockey East action (Mark Fayne 3-9-12, Kyle MacKinnon 6-5-11, Matt Bergland 4-7-11). Meanwhile, the defense is giving up 3.00 goals per game. That is an average margin of 1.12 goals!  The Friars’ defense also makes their vaunted goalie face almost 35 shots a game in Hockey East play.

If Providence has one saving grace, it is their outstanding netminder, Alex Beaudry. Up until last night, Beaudry was probably the best goaltender in Hockey East, narrowly edging out Carter Hutton. (Hutton is clearly the premier goalie in Hockey East now) However, even his game looked poor last night as he gave up five goals on only fourteen shots in one period of play. (He was replaced by Justin Gates who shutout BC on 22 shots for the remainder of the game) Beaudry is still a formidable opponent, and he will be looking to make up for last night’s shitshow with a strong performance tonight.

The Minutemen are not without their own problems. UMass is coming off back to back losses in which Paul Dainton has not played at the high level we have come to expect from him. In the loss to Vermont last Sunday, Dainton gave up two goals on only eighteen shots. One of those two was a ridiculously slow moving puck that probably should have been a cake save for Dainton. The Minutemen still should have won this game, but Rob Madore had the game of his life, and got extremely lucky (I personally witnessed Madore being shocked to find out that a shot had been taken and hit him right in the glove at least twice). Last night at Boston University, both the defense and Dainton let the team down. While the offense was busy barraging Kieran Millan with 41 shots on goal, the defense was letting BU’s lackluster offense shred them for 37 shots on net. Dainton let six of these shots find the back of the net behind him. (Add to this the fact that the UMass power play went 1 for 14 in these two games)

These last two games aside, there are a couple of rather disquieting statistics that have plagued the Mass Attack all year. In Hockey East play, the Minutemen are 1-6-0 when giving up the first goal and 0-6-0 when trailing after one period. These numbers suggest a lack of resolve and mental toughness that parallel the team’s playing down to the level of its opposition the previous two seasons. All Dave Chappelle jokes aside, tonight is a game that the Minutemen MUST WIN. The Friars have lost four in a row, and I am sure that Alex Beaudry wants this game on a personal level. It’s time for this team to dig deep and show us all that they are not the Minutemen of the past two years.

(UMass and Providence split a home-and-home series earlier this season, the Minutemen came away from Providence with a 5-3 victory, but lost 2-1 the following night at the Bill)

The Rundown:

Offense: UMass (by a lot)
Defense: slight edge to UMass
Goaltending: Providence
Special Teams: UMass (please get the power play back on track, boys)
Other Factors: Providence

Prediction:

UMass 2 – 0 Providence
(If Dainton’s in net, it’s about fucking time for him to get a shutout.)

Other Hockey East action tonight:

Merrimack vs. No. 13 New Hampshire
No. 19 Maine vs. No. 17 Vermont

-Derek