Tagged: playing down to the opposition

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