Saturday thoughts: All is not lost
So Lowell finally has a win, and a somewhat emphatic one, upon which to hang its hat.
A 3-1 road win against a nationally-ranked WCHA team is all well and good, and there’s frankly not much to say about it other than, “We’re glad it happened,” but what’s interesting on some level is that Lowell should have had something like this at some point earlier. A strong showing such as what was turned out in Colorado Springs, we feel, has probably been coming for a while. It was the third straight game in which Lowell posted a decent number of shots (39, following 38 against Denver and 39 against Vermont) and one in which it carried play for the vast majority of the game. This is more or less what we expected to happen — and really, what should have happened — in at least one other game this season.
We suppose the first thing that stands out about this game is the three goals. Now, granted, one was into an empty net, but we think the fact that three different River Hawks scored in this one, and none of them were Josh Holmstrom, is obviously a very good thing. The offense has been anemic and not capitalizing on its Grade-A chances, but that all changed last night. Ryan McGrath scored what was by all accounts a beautiful breakaway goal (we unfortunately couldn’t watch), Joe Pendenza banged home a rebound on a Holmstrom shot, and Steve Buco added an empty-netter. How you know things went really well, though, is that even the writeup on CC’s website says the game wasn’t as close as the final score indicated.
What you have to remember about the River Hawks’ run last season was that this was often the case. Unless it posted a shutout, Lowell absolutely pummeling someone to the tune of something like a three- or four-goal win was a very rare feat. We remember the 7-1 game against BU, the 4-0 win over Amherst, the 7-2 pounding of RPI and the 5-1 win at Providence, but other than that, it’s hard to recollect a point at which the River Hawks dominated both on the ice and the score board. It seems, then, that this year is to be more of the same, and that’s fine. If your 3-1 wins are as thorough as all that, then who are we to complain when the Ws start piling up.
Of course, they haven’t started piling up yet. The River Hawks are a mere 1-1-1, and while two of those games came on the road against nationally-ranked opponents, the record has to be nonetheless disappointing. We do hope that the fact that Lowell’s three of a possible six points all came in games in which Doug Carr started is indicator enough to Norm Bazin that this is the horse to ride. Through 134-plus minutes, Carr’s stats sparkle at 0.89 and .968, and while we don’t think Connor Hellebuyck played poorly against Denver until the meltdown, we do think it’s pretty clear who should be The Guy for the next little while. Not that he ever shouldn’t have been, but we think you see our point. Lowell’s schedule doesn’t exactly get easier next week hosting the back-where-they-should-be Boston College Eagles, and if Carr isn’t between the pipes for both of them then something is seriously wrong.
Again, plenty of positives to take. Another strong offensive night, which actually managed to generate top-quality chances, perhaps the best defensive showing of the season, and a good pace that helped Lowell dictate the game despite the fact that it was away from home. It’s hard not to be happy with the result (though we should note Lowell didn’t draw one penalty all night). We just hope to get more of this — and by extension, less of the other things — in the future.