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Friday thoughts: Don’t get excited

January 23, 2010

It’s 1-0 at the end of one and we’re not happy.

Okay so Lowell has the lead and was only outshot 8-6, but Merrimack certainly had the considerably easier go of things. Lowell never seemed overwhelmed or anything like that, but when a team scores with ease 39 seconds into the game, one supposes that said ease should at least continue for a little while. It didn’t here, but that was fine because there was another 40 to go.

It’s 4-1 at the end of two and we’re feeling better.

Lowell had a dominant period, the kind befitting a team of Lowell’s quality playing a team with a defense the quality of Merrimack’s. This was more along the lines of what we expected and while the slow start and subsequent tying goal for Merrimack had dampened our moods, the two goals in under 2:30 to make it 3-1 made us feel an odd sense, almost like what we remembered satisfaction to be.

The Lowell goals came in all varieties, too, which was a nice and unfamiliar touch. Kory Falite’s first goal was the result of hard work around the net, the “compete” level the team had been lacking against Amherst in our estimation. Paul Worthington’s goal was just the result of a beautiful, crisp pass from Maury Edwards and a fine finish. And then Falite’s second goal was just an absolute snipe on a rush down the right wing (and how many goals has he scored like that in his career?).

But again, with Lowell lounging on a three-goal lead through two periods, we still weren’t entirely happy. The residual effects of the so-so first period were still lingering in the air like a faintly unpleasant odor, and we were.. well, to say we were bemoaning the three-goal lead would be overstating things, but certainly we were in agreement that the lead should have been four or five goals. It’s not that we were uncomfortable with a three-goal lead against Merrimack, which really does have a dynamic offense, it’s just that Lowell should have been able to pile more goals on a team that gave it a five-on-three power play through a second penalty which came in Merrimack’s attacking zone. That’s something that simply shouldn’t happen in hockey at this level, and it speaks to how well the River Hawks were carrying play.

Now it’s 5-1 midway through the third period and we’re feeling great.

Once again Lowell has had the better go of things and capitalized on another Merrimack penalty with Jeremy Dehner — who was nothing short of phenomenal and deserved to be all three stars in the Three Stars of the Game — picking up a power play goal. We feel at this point that the game has been lowered into the ground and Dehner’s goal was the first shovelful of dirt to be tossed onto the casket. Maybe, we allow ourselves to think in a weak moment, Lowell can even pop a few more on the board and really give us something about which to feel semi-decent.

Then Merrimack scored 11 seconds later. And then 3:32 after that. And what had been a laughable, comfortable win quickly devolved into a nervy game that, given how things had gone lately, was anything but a sure thing. Then Mike Budd took another late penalty. (Is there no one on campus that they can put in his spot? The kid has been just terrible since early December. He takes stupid penalties in every game, most of them late and costly, turns the puck over and doesn’t get points. When someone is competing with Ryan Blair for the Player with Whom We Are Currently Most Annoyed award, he’s making a hell of a goddamn mess of things.)

So Merrimack, inevitably, adds its fourth goal but the only virtue we can bestow upon Lowell is that it built a lead comfortable enough, and collapsed late enough, that it survived. Had the game gone on another five minutes or so, Merrimack would have leveled; of this we are convinced.

The game, in retrospect, was a bit of a disaster. Another night in which the penalty kill was ineffective at best (it was 1 for 3!), another night in which someone on the team took a boneheaded late penalty, and another night in which Lowell failed to stand on the throat of an opponent that was very clearly eager to surrender. We saw the latter stages of BC’s overtime loss to BU tonight and if you think the Eagles wouldn’t have put 12 in the Lowell net in the third period tonight, then we have some real estate we’d like to sell you some oceanfront property in Nebraska.

Yes, two points. Yes, five goals. Yes, at the end of the day that’s all that matters. And yet this feels like an incredibly hollow win that’s nearly unacceptable. Don’t get us wrong, we’ll happily take the league points, as Lowell needs all it can get given the way it so bungled last weekend, but the reality is that even with these two points, this game wasn’t one in which Lowell could have impressed us with anything less than a ruinous blowout that bordered on obscene.

Lowell should have killed Merrimack because Lowell is Lowell and Merrimack is Merrimack and that’s just how things go. It was a no-win situation, really. Lose and the people revving up the “season’s over” mobile can just floor it. Win and Lowell only completed the minimum it should have done.

So it did the latter and almost didn’t even do that. Forgive us for not breaking out the party hats and streamers.

One Comment leave one →
  1. mike in lowell permalink
    January 23, 2010 5:32 pm

    dehner is the best defenseman in all of hockey east=

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