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Friday thoughts: Another one gets away

February 21, 2009

Let us begin by saying that, yes, Lowell played extremely well last night. Massive advantage in shots, massive advantage in territorial control, massive advantage in play.

And no advantage on the scoreboard.

We’ll start with the positives so as not to be accused of looking at the negative side of things. Lowell was excellent last night. It battled back twice to draw an excellent opponent in their own barn, a barn in which few teams escape with victories and fewer still actually outplay their hosts for the better part of 60 minutes. Mike Scheu was apparently outstanding as he scored his first two goals of the season, one with 45 seconds left in the third period to ensure that Lowell entered the dressing room tied at 1-all rather than looking down the barrel of a deficit against a team that had yet to lose a game this season that it led after one period. The second, of course, was a biggie as well, coming with 26 seconds remaining and the goalie pulled to get Lowell to overtime and save a point against a very good Catamounts team.

The other goal, of course, came from Scott Campbell midway through the second to give Lowell a 2-1 lead. It was just the ninth time Vermont had trailed at home all season. That kind of thing had to give Lowell a huge sense of self-confidence, not only for the remainder of last night’s game, but for tonight’s as well. Though Vermont is a team that Lowell has failed to defeat in its last five attempts, at least they’re finally making headway. Lowell had only led the Catamounts for 8:04 total in those prior meetings.

The only other good news is that this point officially locks Lowell in for a playoff spot, but we, like you, weren’t worried about that.

But now the negative, since that’s really all we can legitimately take from a result like this.

Frankly it’s very tiresome to see the team play so well and then give up two third-period goals on a fairly insignificant number of shots. It’s great that Lowell held Vermont to five shots in the final period and were able to so heavily influence the game, but if you outshoot a team 13-5 on the road with a one-goal advantage entering the third period, you shouldn’t be “escaping” with a tie, which obviously is what happened.

Lots of “almosts.” One is too many.

The circumstances of all three Vermont goals were reportedly a bit wacky (we obviously were not in Burlington for this maddening affair), with Nevin Hamilton dropping far too early on Josh Burrows‘ first-period goal, a pinball no-way-to-stop-it goal from Wahsontiio Stacey, and a puck-off-a-skate goal from Chris Atkinson. But that’s hockey. It happens.

The problem is that we can look at it from any vantage point you like and say Lowell was the better team in the game, but it had to come back to tie the game twice, and, in the end, that was the best it could do. At this point in the season, relishing in moral victories like “We outplayed them,” are two things: 1) Loser talk. You may have outplayed them, but you didn’t beat them, and results are far more important than feeling good about yourself (though we can certainly see the argument being made that the latter leads to the former, and that’s fine). 2) Not enough. To simply outplay a team ahead of you in the standings is unacceptable if the end result is not winning. Lowell apparently killed Vermont tonight, but that doesn’t show up on the scoreboard, and that’s frustrating.

Now Lowell needs to win tonight AND hope for a UNH loss to pick up any ground at all on the Wildcats relative to where everyone was on Friday afternoon. Anything less would be, to us, unacceptable. Blaise MacDonald noted that, while the draw against Boston College felt like a loss, this felt like a win. And maybe, if we had been there, we’d feel the same way. But from the way it sounded to us, Lowell did everything it needed to win but actually do so, and thus to not do so has to feel like a loss. The only reason the ‘Hawks should feel like this is almost as good as a win is because it came back in third to tie the game. But the fact is it shouldn’t have trailed in the third at all. Two goals on five shots? Ugh. There’s a reason we highlighted that so vehemently in Loose Pucks this week. It’s a totally unacceptable figure regardless of circumstance.

Lowell has left two points on the table in the last two games. Not coincidentally, two points is also the amount by which it now trails UNH for the fourth and final home ice spot. Our River Hawks could also be playing for a tie for third tonight if it hadn’t given up FOUR third-period goals on the last 17 third-period shots.

Having games feel like a win is little consolation when you think about it that way, huh?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    February 22, 2009 3:44 pm

    where is Kory Falite

  2. The 'Hawks blog permalink
    February 22, 2009 9:26 pm

    Short answer: He played himself out of the lineup.

    Long answer: He played himself out of the lineup and he’s not missed. His last game was the 5-3 loss at BU and Lowell has since gone 3-0-2 with 16 goals for (3.2/gm) and eight against (1.6/gm).

    And even if you did reinsert him into the lineup, who do you take out? He was replaced by Chris Auger, who, while he is still looking for his first point of the season, has looked very, very good and is getting back on defense, which you can’t say for Falite or, indeed, the Chris Auger of old.

    Falite, it seems, expects things to come to him and refuses to make them happen, or even try to do so. He is, and has always been, a one-dimensional player. Granted, he is very good at that one dimension (or, more accurately, was), but if he isn’t scoring goals, he’s doing nothing at best and, more commonly, actively hurting you at worst.

    The way the ‘Hawks are playing through the last five, we wouldn’t mind not seeing Falite again the rest of the year. Maybe that will wake him up.

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