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Today in Disrespect: Et tu, Chaze?

October 23, 2009

There are things we’ve come to expect in this world.

We know that most people out there in the wider world will always look down on Lowell. That Lowell will be a bit of an afterthought to the people at national college hockey publications. That Lowell, even as we speak, is being slept on by any number of pundits within Hockey East.

But to see it in our own backyard? We’d say we’re flabbergasted, but really, why did we ever expect anything different?

Yes, the Lowell Sun’s annual River Hawk hockey season preview pullout section was published today and, as we pointed out in Loose Pucks on Tuesday, it’s something to which we always look forward. As we said, there is indeed the overarching preview of the team itself, there’s the story on Moe (and a bonus story on Soup! Luckyyyyy!), there’s the page that’s nothing but headshots of the team. All of which we anticipated.

But then, on the third-to-last page, there’s something we’d forgotten, probably because we blocked it out of our memories in an attempt to forget that this joke happens on a yearly basis. Yes, it was “Chaz Scoggins’ Hockey East Predictions” (why predicitions was capitalized is anyone’s guess).

Now, to be fair, some of his predictions are spot-on. Providence 10th? Yup. Maine ninth? You bet. Merrimack eighth? We disagree but get the reasoning. Northeastern seventh? Hm, a little strange but they did lose Thiessen. UNH sixth? Probably not. UMass Amherst fifth? Having one giant-sized laugh there. BC fourth? We’re not sure if he’s seen the Eagles this year. Vermont third? Unlikely.

So that leaves Lowell and BU, the two agreed-upon titans of Hockey East this year. Some experts have Lowell No. 1 (see also: the smart ones, fearful of our wrath) and some have BU up there (see also: the ones that think Colin Wilson still goes there). But we get why these teams are running 1-2 in every poll. Let’s see what Chaz, prognosticator of prognosticators, thinks.

The outlook for Lowell reads thusly:

For two years, the River Hawks suffered with the youngest team in the nation.

Of course, those years were also two and three years ago, but letting facts get in the way of an asinine point has never been Scoggins’ modus operandi.

Now they’re battle-tested veterans with a strong power play, stingy penalty-killing, and a rock-solid defense anchored by the two toughest goaltenders to score on in league history.

We don’t know upon what he could possibly be basing that part about goaltending (we can’t imagine that’s factual over a career or a single season, even allowing for a tandem setup like Maine’s Morrison-Yeats combo from 2000-2002), but the point that Lowell is good is, of course, well-taken.

The River Hawks seem primed to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 14 years.

They do indeed. And what of 0-2-0 Boston University? Here are Scoggins’ thoughts:

The defending national champs lost five of their top six scorers, …

Yes! Almost exactly two goals A GAME went to the pros either through graduation or early departure. Good point, Chazzy, we don’t think they’ll finish in first either.

… but outside of losing Matt Gilroy their defense corps returns nearly intact …

Yes, outside of losing an NHL-level player, their defense returns intact, save for the loss of another excellent defenseman in Brian Strait, whose presence on perhaps the best defense in the history of college hockey was apparently a non-issue to Scoggins, one that is hardly worth mentioning. “Brian Strait,” he scoffs, “PEH!” You can rest assured that, had Lowell lost a player of Strait’s quality, Scoggins would be battening down the hatches, sounding the alarms and sprinting for his Panic Room, because the River Hawks would, in his book, be skuh-rewed. Yeah, Strait only left BU to sign with one of the best organizations in hockey, the Pittsburgh Penguins. What a bum that kid is. And also to brush off the loss of Gilroy is, as we pointed out in a previous TWiD, ludicrous. The guy won a Hobey Baker and played probably 29 or 30 minutes a night. He was a do-it-all defenseman and pretty much got everything going for them offensively with his puckrushing skills, which were, of course, good enough to land him a job in the NHL for the entirety of this season. Not only is this wrong, it’s absurdly stupid to boot.

… to play in front of goaltender and HEA Rookie of the Year Kieran Millan.

Oh yes, the great Kieran Millan. The kid that, so far this year, has conceded three goals each to Amherst and Notre Dame on 39 combined shots. That save percentage for those scoring at home is .857, a drop of .064, which is a lot. And the goals-against average on the kid has ballooned from a stingy 1.94, which, of course, was almost entirely thanks to the work of the wonderful, dominant defense in front of him, to 3.14, a jump of 1.2o. Do we expect those numbers to stay that high forever? Probably not. After all, he’s only lost as many games in two games this season as he did in 34 last year. We’ll put it this way, his current save percentage is below last season’s win percentage. Wrap your head around that and see what Millan’s really doing out there.

The Terriers may need to work harder for goals, but they won’t need that many.

Well they’re certainly not going to get that many, so that will be an interesting experiment. Just look at how this BU offense has crumbled without players like Brandon Yip, Jason Lawrence, Chris Higgins, and that Wilson guy who’s in the NHL right now and just scored his first goal for Nashville against Boston. Two goals in two games? If this was last year, they’d have nine right now and be on a 2-0 run, not conceding three goals a night to Amherst and a TERRIBLE Notre Dame team. The BU attack has no consistency, makes bad plays that it would never have made last year, can’t carry it up the ice or break a trap to save its pathetic life and simply looks punchless. We’ll let the stats do the talking here: one freshman, Alex Chiasson, has two goals for BU this year. Everyone else is tied with zero, which coincidentally is the same number of players that have a game-winning goal to their credit. Go figure.

So of course we come to the part where we pull back the curtain and reveal what you’ve probably suspected all along: which team Scoggins picked to win the league, and which will be a mere runner-up. If you guessed that he believes Lowell will take home its first regular-season title, please do a favor for both us and yourself and run a quick lap to think about the many, many ways in which your brain has failed you. Of COURSE Scoggins picked BU to win it all again this year.

This is line-in-the-sand stuff for us. We’ve always disliked Scoggins before, of course (who wouldn’t?), but this is the ultimate indignity, hate piled on top of ignorance shoveled on disrespect. This guy just got bumped to Dead to Us status, taking the spot previously vacated by Joe Bertagna’s move to Eternal Archnemesis.

Blaise MacDonald notes in Scoggins’ subpar season preview that, “This team has gone through all the trials and tribulations, fought hard for respect.”

It’s really a shame they can’t even get it from a guy that brags about covering the team since the Carter administration.

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