Loose pucks: Into it now
Three things we enjoy endlessly:
1) Sweeping Amherst.
This will always be something we love deeply, whether it’s for the weekend or an entire season series. The reasons sweeping Amherst is always great are many, but apart from sticking it to those smug losers for a whopping six games in a row (in which they were outscored 30-11!), it’s the schadenfreude we enjoy most. Every time Lowell pummels Amherst over the course of a whole season, particularly on their embarrassing excuse for home ice — where Amherst has been outscored 18-7 by Lowell over the last two seasons — Amherst’s worthless fans come out of the woodwork to bemoan the fact that they shouldn’t lose to teams “like Lowell.” The joy we get from such conversations is limitless. And the six free points don’t hurt either. Lowell barely broke a sweat, but we got to break out in laughter. And that’s what matters here.
2) The return of Connor Hellebuyck.
With all due respect to Doug Carr, the goaltending just wasn’t getting it done with Hellebuyck out of the lineup the last few weeks. Carr got five games in Hellebuyck’s absence and gave up three, three, one, four and four, a total of 15 goals against on just 106 shots; a save percentage of just .858. Not that Hellebuyck was any great shakes in his return engagement (that shortie he allowed was particularly grieving) but it’s hard to argue with a) results, and b) that Hellebuyck has been far better this season. The stats, as they so often do, tell the story quite convincingly.
3) Derek Arnold and Riley Wetmore stepping up.
Speaking of results, it’s very nice to see two of Lowell’s best offensive players once again setting Hockey East defenses on fire. It’s hard to argue that either player was anything less than disappointing to start the season; Arnold had just two goals and 11 points through 19 games, and Wetmore was on five goals and seven points through 16 (and three of those goals came in one game against Amherst). But in the last several weeks, their contributions have been impressive. Arnold has six goals and 10 points in his last nine games, with all six goals coming in his last seven. Wetmore, meanwhile, has 7-4-11 in his last 11. If Lowell is to go anywhere this postseason, these guys will need to continue with these contributions.
Two things we dislike greatly:
1) Taking care of business.
As Lowell found out last year, if you want to win home ice, you have to beat the garbage teams on the schedule. Apart from the ghastly performances against Maine this year, Lowell has done just that, taking 22 points from 14 games against teams in fourth or lower (6 of 6 against Amherst, 5 of 6 against Northeastern and Vermont, 2 of 2 against BU and Providence, but just 2 of 6 against Maine). Of course, the lack of any points at all against Merrimack, UNH and BC are obvious points of concern which will determine whether Lowell does indeed get home ice, but still, you play the schedule you’re dealt. One gets the feeling that those surrendered points against Maine of all teams will be this team’s home ice undoing.
2) Not having a lot to complain about.
We love to see Amherst lose.
Stat of the Week
With regard to beating Amherst six times in the last six meetings, we decided to do a little bit of digging into the teams’ histories to see when it had happened before. We were shocked to find that, very weirdly, it hadn’t.
Despite the years and years of Amherst being absolute garbage in every way (not that much if anything has changed) Lowell’s previous longest winning streak against the disgusting and lowly and base Minutemen previously stood at just five games, stretching from Oct. 24, 1997, to Feb. 12, 1999. During that time, Lowell won 6-4, 5-4 in overtime, 3-1, 4-3 in overtime, and 2-1. Both overtime games were in Amherst. Lowell’s lowly opponents only broke up the run of futility with a 3-2 win at Tsongas Center on Feb. 20, 1999, but then took just two points out of the next three games thanks to a pair of home draws in the 1999-2000 season.
You know, because Amherst sucks.
Just a friendly reminder that if you’re planning to go to BU on Friday night, the game starts at 7:30 rather than the usual 7 for reasons we don’t fully understand.