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Weekend preview: Very bad things

November 27, 2009

The No. 3 Lowell River Hawks (8-3-1, 4-2-1 HE) vs. the Maine Black Bears (4-7-1, 3-4-1 HE)

7 p.m. Friday at Tsongas Arena, Lowell, Mass.

Lowell is fourth in Hockey East with nine points from seven games and Maine is tied for fifth in Hockey East with seven points from eight games.

Last three games
Lowell — 2-4 at Providence, 6-3 vs. Merrimack, 4-0 at Alabama-Huntsville
Maine — 3-3 vs. BC, 3-4 vs. BC, 2-5 at Northeastern

Prior meetings
Lowell trails Maine 27-67-3 all-time.

Season series
Nothing to report.

Top scorers
Lowell:
Scott Campbell — 12 GP, 5-8-13 (7, 2-3-5 HE)
Nick Schaus — 10, 4-8-12 (7 GP, 3-6-9)
Paul Worthington — 12, 6-5-11 (7, 5-4-9)
Chris Auger — 12, 4-7-11 (7, 5-4-9)
David Vallorani — 12, 4-7-11 (7, 1-6-7)

Maine:
Gustav Nyquist — 12 GP, 7-9-16 (8 GP, 3-7-10 HE)
Adam Shemansky — 12, 6-4-10 (8, 4-2-6)
Spencer Abbott — 12, 3-7-10 (8, 2-4-6)
Robby Dee — 12, 3-6-9 (8, 2-4-6)
Will O’Neill — 12, 3-6-9 (8, 3-4-7)

Goaltending
Lowell:
Carter Hutton (4-3-0) — 7 GP, 419:51 minutes, 2.29 GAA/.918 sv% (4 GP, 241:51 minutes, 2.98 GAA/.907 sv% HE)
Nevin Hamilton (4-0-1) — 5, 304:57, 2.36/.918 (3, 184:57, 2.60/.917 HE)

Maine:
Scott Darling (4-3-1) — 10 GP, 521:42 minutes, 3.22 GAA/.891 sv% (8 GP, 403:32, 2.97 GAA/.898 sv% HE)

Team stats
Lowell:
Overall (12 games) — 45 goals for (3.75/gm), 29 goals against (2.42/gm). Power play 16/68 (23.5%, 1 SHGA), penalty kill 40/48 (83.3%, 0 SHGF)
Hockey East (7 games) — 27 goals for (3.86/gm), 21 goal against (3.00/gm). Power play 12/41 (29.3%, 1 SHGA), penalty kill 25/32 (78.1%, 0 SHGF)

Maine:
Overall (12 games) — 38 goals for (3.17/gm), 45 goals against (3.75/gm). Power play 18/79 (22.8%, 3 SHGA), penalty kill 50/65 (76.9%, 3 SHGF)
Hockey East (8 games) — 26 goals for (3.25/gm), 27 goals against (3.38/gm). Power play 11/51 (21.6%, 1 SHGA), penalty kill 38/49 (77.6%, 2 SHGF)

Outlook

After Lowell’s, umm, disappointing performance on Tuesday, we don’t envy the Maine Black Bears.

An already-hapless road team at 1-5-0, they have been tasked with walking into a Tsongas Arena that will surely be a lion’s den, home to a pride that hasn’t eaten in close to a week.  Having lost to Providence in ugly fashion, Lowell is in no position to sleep on Maine, or indeed anyone. And the prospect of a motivated and upset Lowell playing a subpar Maine side says to us that the results should — and need to — be grisly.

The River Hawk penalty kill has been poor in recent weeks, having allowed three goals on the last six chances, and that’s something that needs to change immediately. Lowell can’t go 0-fer on the power play. It needs to make Maine play the game Lowell wants to play. These are things that did not happen in Providence and where the Friars seemed and frankly still are bad, they at least had a strong goaltender and the advantage of a midweek home game, Maine has no such edge.

For better or worse, Alex Beaudry’s stats were comparable with Carter Hutton’s and Nevin Hamilton’s. To get an idea of Scott Darling’s stats, all you have to do is tack 0.9 goals onto Hutton and Hamilton’s average GAA (2.33 up to 3.22) and subtract about .030, the difference between a .920 and a .890). Not good. And that’s allowing that Maine is a decent home side (outscoring opponents 21-18 and going 3-2-1).

Away from home the results have been shocking. Just 17 goals scored in six games, but 27 (TWENTY-SEVEN!) allowed. No shock they’re sitting on one road win. How ghastly.

And now they come in and play a Lowell team against which they have been strikingly bad for the last two years. In three meetings last year, Lowell came away with three wins by a combined score of 14-5 (Darling gave up 11 of those on back-to-back nights in Lowell). The year prior, Lowell played Maine four times and, while emerging with just two wins, managed to outscore Maine 9-2 in games not-in-Orono-the-last-weekend-of-the-year-with-Maine-playing-for-its-season.

What we’re saying is this: Lowell is a team that’s good enough to beat anyone in the country, yeah? Maine is a team that’s a couple bars of silly piano music away from being Keystone Kops away from home. And now Lowell has every reason in the world to play pissed off.

Yeah, this shouldn’t end well for the Black Bears.

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