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Loose pucks: Ready for the stretch run

March 10, 2009

Three things with which we’re coo-de-la:
1) Sweeping Maine.

Been a long time since that happened, eh? And not only sweeping Maine. Destroying Maine. Pounding Maine into so fine a paste that it can hardly be said to be a solid at all. It was just an absolute delight to see. We couldn’t have been happier with it.

2) Kory Falite.

Last year, he was Hockey East’s biggest goal-scoring threat. This year he’s been in and out of the dog house several times. But now Hockey East, and especially the Vermont Catamounts, had better be on notice. Because Kory Falite is back. He was positively lethal against the Black Bears this weekend, scoring two goals and two assists and leading the charge as Lowell steamrolled its hapless opponent. There are a few teams against which Falite does poorly. Vermont isn’t one of them. Oh, and his playoff point totals last year? Three games, 2-1-3. Yeah, Falite’s good to go and he’s good where he goes. The man’s got good aim. And that’s a good thing to know.

3) “Playoff hockey.”

Two words that are certainly music to our ears. There is nothing better in the entire universe than playoff hockey. The intensity, the emotion, the drama – all unmatched by any playoff in any sport. In hockey, more than any other sport, a game-changing event can happen in a flash. There are no challenge flags, no changing pitchers for a righty-righty matchup, no endless string of timeouts. There’s just a whistle and, five seconds later, a puck drop. It’s that simple.

This is win or go home. This is the biggest game of the season. This is where you want to be.

Two things with which we AIN’T coo-de-la:
1) Going to Vermont.

Don’t get us wrong. We like playing Vermont in Burlington. Lowell, in fact, is 2-1-2 there in the last three seasons (look it up, suckers). We even like Burlington more than any other road trip in Hockey East. Gorgeous city, great restaurants, fun nightlife. All that. But GOING to Burlington? Ugh. Move like 200 miles south and you can’t keep us out of there.

2) Matt Ferreira‘s injury.

It was just announced that he won’t be playing this weekend. Which is too bad. On the other hand, he didn’t play for Lowell this weekend either and look how that worked out. While we think Matty’s a fine player, this isn’t going to doom the River Hawks to certain loss. The team’s depth is such that it has adequate cover for almost anyone, no matter how integral they seem*.

*The exception, of course, being Mark Roebothan, as we detailed in our Senior Night post.

Stat of the Week:
Lowell’s Hockey East power play was flying high at 21.5 percent ahead of the Merrimack series on the weekend of Jan. 22.

But since then, despite a strong showing here and there, it had slipped considerably. All the way down to 16.5 before the Maine series thanks to just 10 power play goals in 56 chances. But after the Maine series, in which Lowell went 6 for 11 man-up, it’s back up to 19.7. That’s a jump of 3.2 points in two games.

And that, as any hockey stat nerd will tell you, is absolutely ludicrous this late in the season.

Gettin’ our stretch on
Stay tuned for the rest of this very busy week at the RHHB. We’ve got a Two Minutes’ Hate coming tomorrow that you will, of course, love. We’ve also got an expanded weekend preview of Vermont on Thursday, our usual thoughts after each game ends, and we might just pony up the cash for a B2 feed and live blog it (when we’re allegedly supposed to be working) on Saturday. We’ll be sure to let you know about that in advance.

Can you tell we’re excited?

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