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Loose pucks: How much is it?

March 3, 2009

Three things we applaud:

1) Effort.

The result might not have been there on Saturday but the desire certainly was, and against Brad Thiessen that’s really all you can ask for. That kid is just playing out-of-his-mind hockey right now. Lowell’s power play was threatening, its transition produced a few chances and its goaltending was as solid as could have been reasonably expected. It’s a shame Lowell lost, obviously, but unlike Friday, it wasn’t for lack of trying.

2) Kory Falite back in the lineup.

Now, we must first lead by saying that, yes, we agreed wholeheartedly with the decision over the last few weeks to keep Falite out of the lineup. He was ineffectual and, frankly, was hurting the team toward the end of that little run that saw him wind up in the dog house in the first place. But the Falite we saw on Saturday reminded us of the 2007-08 vintage that scored 21 goals. He was bombing it on the power play and created more than a few chances because of his big shot. We sincerely hope that he remains in the lineup against Maine this weekend. It’s hard to line up against 3-3-6 in seven career games against the Black Bears.

3) Purpose.

Well at least now Lowell knows it has to play the role of underdog come tournament time, which is fine by us. The River Hawks, as you may be aware, are a surprisingly good road team this season. Their 8-5-1 record against Hockey East opponents away from Tsongas Arena (60.7 win percentage) provides a swing of 19.8 percent over their home winning percentage (4-6-1, 40.9).

Two things about which we sit on our hands:

1) Lack of effort.

Home ice basically on the line. Against the No. 4 team in the country. In their building. And the ‘Hawks didn’t even bother to show up. Blaise MacDonald called it the worst effort of the year. Inexcusable at that juncture of the season. Completely cost the team its shot at home ice.

2) Lack of scoring.

We realize that Lowell just got done with two very good defensive clubs, but it has scored two goals in its last 180 minutes of hockey. The fact that the ‘Hawks even got one win out of that stretch is more luck than anything else. Granted, if they pressure Maine’s goalies the way they pressured Thiessen on Saturday, they’ll score at least four, but still. Two goals on their last 70 shots? That ain’t gonna get it done.

Stat of the Week
We were wondering when the last time Lowell only scored one goal in a weekend was, and it occured to us that it was not, in fact, very long ago at all. On Jan. 25 and 26, 2008, Lowell only put one puck past Minnesota-Duluth goalie Alex Stalock on 50 shots. Duluth won 4-1 on Friday but Stalock, like Thiessen, stole the game on Saturday.

While Lowell has very little controllable mobility left in the standings as far as where it can finish, we think it’s important to keep in mind that this is already Lowell’s best season since 2001-02, when it finished 12-9-3 for 27 points, one ahead, obviously, of this season’s HE point total. If Lowell were to somehow sweep the Black Bears (and we’re not holding our breath), it would be Lowell’s first 30-point season since 1995-96, when Lowell finished second in the league with 16 wins, six losses, two ties and a shootout win for 85 points. Apparently a win was worth five points, a loss zero, a tie two and a shootout win three. Under modern NHL shootout rules, Lowell would have had 36 points.

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