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Loose pucks: It seems Thanksgiving Day is upon us

November 24, 2009

Three things yea:
1) TCOB.

Second time in two weeks for this one isn’t it? But hey, you gotta give credit where it’s due. There was some concern (not from us of course) that Lowell might struggle against Merrimack, which had dispatched a number of talented teams and posted a stellar record on special teams. But there turned out to be no cause for concern. The game was in question for maybe the first 10 minutes but Lowell was up 3-1 through 20, so that was the end of that. And those Merrimack special teams? Oh yeah, they looked great.

2) Movin’ on up.

Lowell is now No. 3 in the country, tied for the highest this program has ever been in the Division 1 rankings, with two very winnable games ahead of them here this week. A couple of emphatic wins would probably catapult Lowell into the top-2 or, if both Denver and Miami stumble against St. Cloud and Bemidji/North Dakota, maybe even the top slot over all. Even if that happened, we still wouldn’t feel like this team was rated highly enough for our liking.

3) A busy day.

Yes, you’re reading Loose Pucks right now. Lucky you, right? Later on today you’re going to get the usual preview of tonight’s game, which we foolishly did not combine with Saturday’s game preview. You’ve gotta be feeling great about that, right? And THEN you’re going to get a live blog of tonight’s game at Providence, live from TIIL World Headquarters. Yes indeed, you have a lot for which to be thankful today. We’re great guys. Send us money.

Two things nay:
1) Thankless tasks.

In this time of thankfulness and all that kinda stuff, you would think the e-mails would be pouring in. “Thank you,” they would say. “Lowell’s success is the kind to which we all aspire, and seeing another W on your schedule truly warms our hearts. Thank you, Lowell, for everything you’ve done for this conference and for our chances at making the NCAA tournament; just by having played and lost to you, we are now mathematically more likely to make it. Thank you for having an exemplary program whose status is propping up the rest of us in what has to this point been, let’s face it, a lackluster campaign for (insert Hockey East school here).” More e-mails like that would be great. Get on it everyone.

2) Thankless tasks pt. 2.

We know that none of you are going to send us a dime for all this work we’re doing just for you today, and that makes us somewhat resentful of you. … Just kidding! (or are we?) We are! (really though?) Yes! (maybe)

Stat of the Week

You might think that going 3 for 7 against Merrimack was a very good night for Lowell’s power play. You wouldn’t be wrong, but you also would be selling the River Hawks’ man advantage a bit short, because the last time Lowell scored three power play goals in a game was.. two weeks ago against UNH. Before that, they scored two against Vermont and before that, two against BU. In fact, in Lowell’s last four Hockey East games, it’s gone 10 for 27 on the power play, good for 37 percent, which is obviously insane.

But because we’re not big proponents of straight-up power play percentage as a basis for judging relative PP quality, given the mitigating factors it fails to take into account, let’s look a little closer. Against Merrimack, Lowell scored three in 7:59, three in 6:08 against UNH, two in 8:50 at Vermont and two in 10:47 at BU. That’s 10 power play goals in 33:44 of power play time, or a goal every just about 3:20 of power play time. Basically, if you take three penalties against Lowell these days, the ‘Hawks are going to score on two of them. Scary.

I haven’t finished eating all my Halloween candy!

We touched on it a bit in both the Merrimack game post and yesterday’s Weekend in Review, but really, no one deserves to have a game like Saturday’s more than Chris Auger. The injuries that cost him months of time, shedding the lack of desire to do the little things he needs to succeed. When he was called upon to fill in for an effort-deficient Kory Falite against Amherst last winter, he proved that he had learned a thing or two from a two-game series with UNH that was personally disastrous to his case for ice time. We commented at the time that he, “did a lot of things that won’t show up on the stat sheet but should certainly earn him another game in the lineup.” We then stumped for more ice time and noted that he would be very useful down the stretch. Freed from some of the responsibility that comes from playing center, he has been immaculately meticulous in his approach to the game — we can’t think of a noticeably bad game out of him since that UNH series last December, which if you consider the nightly quality of play Lowell used to get from Auger, is remarkable — and has been duly rewarded. Great night, Juice. Many more to come, eh?

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