Loose pucks: Dread
Three things that still give us hope:
1) Rebounds (though in the opposite directions).
After the goaltending and defensive debacles that were the two results against Northeastern two weekends ago, it was sure nice to see Lowell collect itself in its own zone and hold Merrimack to one goal. And then, after the — and the power play in particular — was so putrid against the Warriors on Friday, it was nice to see both get back on track against Maine. These were obviously very incomplete games from a competitive standpoint, but things are at least getting fixed on the fly, even if the results weren’t there.
2) A chance at a do-over.
As troubling as these two losses were, at least Lowell has a good chance to make up the ground it lost on home ice over the remainder of the season. The BC game is obviously going to come with a whole lot of question marks and not a lot of hope for a win, but after that, there’s still two with Merrimack, Amherst and Providence, as well as a BU team so up-and-down it’s beginning to resemble an elevator. The season is now, for better or worse. We’ll lean toward better for now.
This is the time of year when you have to stop writing off freshman mistakes as having been the result of their inexperience, because most of them have played about 20 games or so at this point and really should know better. Which is why it’s encouraging to see Lowell’s rookies playing so, so well lately. They scored two of Lowell’s three goals against Maine and added a pair of assists as well, and a stat on the Hockey East website revealed they have a combined 39 points in the last 13 games, including 16 goals. That’s very, very good.
Two things that are doing the opposite:
The problem with the Pairwise, which is something we try not to worry about too much in our everyday lives, is that it punishes you for not being good against good teams. Now, that’s only a problem right now for Lowell, as last year there was no such concern. But Lowell has obviously been pummeled by most good teams it has played this year, so these two losses firmly dropped Lowell out of the NCAA tournament picture, and the only way to get back in is to start beating the teams it has left. That, too, is easier said than done.
2) The performances.
It’s not so much that Lowell lost twice this weekend; we always figured there was going to be some sort of correction to the mean, and if you go 10-2-1 over a 13-game stretch, it doesn’t much matter, one supposes, whether it was five in a row, a loss, two more wins and a tie, another loss, then three more wins, or 10 wins, a tie, a win and two losses. You want to go 10-2-1 over that stretch, always. But the problems that presented themselves in the two games this past weekend were deeply troubling. The offense against Merrimack was terrible. Worse than ineffectual. The defense against Maine held the same designation. Now, you could say that if they can just put the defense against Merrimack and the offense against Maine together, then things would get back to that winning form in a hurry, but that’s obviously easier said than done.
Stat of the Week
So Lowell’s historic streak of success is now officially over, and that gives us time to pick over the carcass and see just what went right during that stretch, as well as everything that’s gone wrong outside it.
Here, then, is every stat we could think to track (or at least, for which it is possible to track them based on Hockey East’s simple box scores; we couldn’t get corsi rates without going insane poring over play-by-play on GoRiverHawks.com) for the 11 games of the streak, and the 14 others as well.
During the streak: 43 (3.91 per game)
Outside the streak: 31 (2.21)
Games with three-plus goals for
During the streak: 8
Outside the streak: 6
During the streak: 22 (2.00)
Outside the streak: 40 (2.86)
Games with two or fewer goals against
During the streak: 7
Outside the streak: 7
During the streak: Plus-21 (1.91)
Outside the streak: Minus-9 (-0.51)
During the streak: 60 for 144 minutes (5.45 for 13.09 minutes)
Outside the streak: 73 for 157 (5.21 for 11.21 minutes)
During the streak: 85 for 208 (7.73 for 18.91 minutes)
Outside the streak: 75 for 183 (5.36 for 13.07 minutes)
During the streak: 14/63 (22.2 percent)
Outside the streak: 7/59 (11.9 percent)
During the streak: 35/38 (92.1 percent)
Outside the streak: 66/84 (78.6 percent)
During the streak: 364 (33.1)
Outside the streak: 442 (31.6)
During the streak: 296 (26.9)
Outside the streak: 393 (28.1)
During the streak: plus-68 (plus-6.2)
Outside the streak: plus-49 (plus-3.5)
During the streak: 11.8
Outside the streak: 7.0
During the streak: .926
Outside the streak: .898
So as you can see, Lowell did a lot of good things when it was winning, and a lot of really bad things when it was not. Funny how that works out.
With this big snow storm looming on Friday, you’d probably be wise to stay home, and not get out to BC for the only game of the weekend. Fortunately for you, the game is on NESN. And if you are making the drive, you’re our favorite kind of lunatic. Have fun everyone. Stay safe.