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Friday thoughts: Okay… and?

March 7, 2009

With last night’s 5-3 win, Lowell actually took a season series against Maine. That hasn’t happened since the 1993-94 season. Yes, 15 years ago. Mike Potacco, the team’s oldest player, was not yet 10 years old the last time this happened.

But these aren’t your father’s Maine Black Bears we’re dealing with any more, this is the team that couldn’t hold onto a lead if you put handles on it, then glued their fingers to the handles, then nailed their hand to a slip-resistant surface of some kind. This Maine team is, in short, atrocious.

The new gameplan against Maine is obviously this: draw penalties. The ‘Hawks went 4 for their first 6 on the power play and 4 for 8 overall, including capitalizing twice on the same 5-on-3 as they scored three man-up goals in 4:50 late in the second period to put the game away. Maine has now allowed 12 power play goals in their last seven games.

But this, really, felt like three different games with one common thread of Lowell domination holding it all together. The first period was about as wacky as you’ll see in any hockey game, with the teams trading ugly goals and costly turnovers for 20 arduous minutes and Maine, despite being outshot 15-11, emerged with a 3-2 lead on the back of a pair of goals from Tanner House.

But in the second, Nevin Hamilton and the penalty kill turned the tide for Lowell, with the former stopping all of the 14 shots Maine put on net before Lowell even had one and the latter knocking down three shorthanded situations in the first 6:05 of the period, including a 54-second 5-on-3 that saw Lowell block roughly one trillion shots. It was a total team effort and it shifted the momentum, which had been swinging wildly from team to team in the prior 26 minutes or so, firmly in Lowell’s direction and kept it there.

So when Maine took two penalties 1:14 apart midway through the period, it was easy to say that two-man advantage could make or break the game. Fortunately, Maury Edwards rebounded from his horrendous first period to score with 24 seconds remaining in the first penalty and Scott Campbell netted the eventual game-winner with 17 left in the second.

Paul Worthington added another power play goal at 18:10 of the period to put the game on ice. The third period featured a whole lotta nothing in terms of offense (shots were 10-6 to Maine) but there were a few good saves and whatever so that’s that.

Frankly, this really isn’t a game Lowell should have won. You give up eight power plays to most teams and they score a couple times, sure. But if you get eight power plays, what is the likelihood that you score four times? We can’t even remember the last time Lowell scored four power play goals in one game and we’ve been going to games for a long, long time. The ‘Hawks were truly terrible (we’re talking “Maine” bad) in the first period and the goals they gave up were largely inexcusable. That the woeful Scott Darling was in net instead of Dave Wilson, who will also miss tonight’s game and possibly the playoffs with a groin injury, was the only reason Lowell got out of there with a win.

And that’s not to say Lowell did things badly in attack. They got the puck to the goalmouth and scored from there repeatedly (Mike Scheu‘s first-period goal, Edwards’ and Campbell’s second-period goals) and the Worthington goal was a gorgeous play. Kory Falite continued to pester Maine, adding two assists, and Nick Schaus had three helpers as well. But the defense and especially the faceoffs were often brutal. Even Campbell, who might’ve played his least effective defensive game in months, was 12 for 22 at the dot, which, for him, is a ridiculously low number.

Wins are wins and all that, but if Lowell had played a better team than Maine last night, the result could’ve been disastrous. But those Black Bears sure are awful, and it’s a good thing too. Lowell likely cannot skate on another game like that tonight.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Scott K permalink
    March 7, 2009 6:03 pm

    It’s been a while since Lowell won the season series from Maine, but not THAT long. It was 1993-94, not 1984-85.

  2. The 'Hawks blog permalink
    March 7, 2009 6:28 pm

    Yeah, because of forfeits. If we’re not going to count UMass Amherst winning the 03-04 series (and we aren’t), then we ain’t counting 93-94 either.

  3. Scott K permalink
    March 7, 2009 6:57 pm

    Without the forfeits though it was still 1-0-2, so we still won the series.

  4. The 'Hawks blog permalink
    March 7, 2009 7:16 pm

    We thought it was 1-1-1. Fair enough.

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