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Saturday thoughts: Stop this season, we wanna get off

February 14, 2010

Well if that game didn’t just tell you everything about Lowell hockey this season, nothing will.

Lowell played very well defensively, made the other team look a bit bad at pretty much everything, and at times dominated play, but in the end despite numerous chances still scored only once, gave up a backbreaking goal and lost 2-1 because it just didn’t generate any offense.

So typical, so indicative of everything wrong with this team, and now so long to home ice hopes for real this time.

With a win yesterday, Lowell would have been tied for fourth place with a game in hand on a crumbling Amherst, just two points back of second-place Maine and BC. Now it’s four points back of that spot all by itself in seventh and only three points above ninth. Really.

The problem is the way they keep building our hopes. If this season were to fall into abject failure, that’d be one thing, and something with which we could try to cope. This was yet another well-executed defensive game by Lowell against a strong Boston College team, but how long can you go scoring a goal or two against a team like the Eagles and expect or even hope that you’ll keep getting points from those games?

One goal is a pathetic offensive output in a season series full of them. Let’s be honest here, not counting empty-netters, Lowell scored five goals in this three-game series and was incredibly lucky to have taken four of the six points as a consequence. That kind of attack winning games is all down, obviously, to Carter Hutton who by rights should be mentioned in the Hobey Baker category if a guy like James Marcou is for Amherst. The numbers at this point are getting disgusting. He’s the runaway best goalie in Hockey East with a 2.06 GAA and .930 save percentage, and those numbers are good for fifth and third in the nation, respectively. The next closest Hockey East goalies in either category are John Muse (18th in GAA) and both Alex Beaudry and Chris Rawlings (tied for 11th in save percentage). Obviously this is a season in which we’ve worn the “Give Hutts some help” tag down to near-meaninglessness but for real, give Hutts some help. He’s given up two goals or fewer and lost FIVE times this season.

That’s not just an absence of help, that’s enough for us to start thinking Carter Hutton killed the puppies of every forward on the team. There’s no other explanation for this negligent lack of scoring for games in which he gives up two goals and loses, because he’s made 135 saves in those five games, an average of 27 saves on 29 shots.

Lowell’s inability to win those games is what has cost them everything this season. It cost them last night’s game, a pair against Northeastern, one against Amherst, and one against UNH. That’s 10 Hockey East points left on the table, and with even 60 percent of those, Lowell is comfortably second in the lead and, assuming they had beaten UNH, one point back of the Wildcats for first. Lowell also scored two goals or fewer against Maine in-league (Nevin Hamilton gave up three on 33), Princeton, Northeastern in the Dartmouth tournament, the tie with UNH, the other loss to Amherst (3-2), and last week’s losses to BU and Merrimack. That’s another seven league points thrown away, and about 60 percent of those — we’ll call it four league points and four wins total with the two out-of-conference games — turns this race for the regular-season title from a photo finish to a laugher as Lowell stands astride Hockey East as a titan rising from the sea with 30 league points from 21 games and 22 wins already this season. That would typically be enough to nearly guarantee Lowell a home ice and NCAA tournament spot today.

But instead, we’ve had to suffer through losses in all but one of those games (a 0-11-1 record) because this team simply cannot score. Lowell literally has one point from the 12 games in which it scored two goals or fewer. One.

And this game against BC showed why. The defense was stellar, but the offense pathetic despite BC turning the puck over in its own zone dozens of times. The most egregious example was, of course, Scott Campbell’s beautiful stick-lift-and-steal at the top of the circle and break in alone on Parker Milner. Campbell was presented a five-hole the size of Texas at which to shoot but instead tried to go wide and basically just held onto it too long and Milner made the save. Then there was also Nick Schaus, who had a hell of a game and weekend, hitting a post and Lowell having its worst power play of the game inside of three minutes to go in the third period.

And it was that penalty kill by BC — and really, that was more the Eagles putting it out of its misery than an actual murder — that allowed the Eagles’ the jump to create a loose puck with 14 seconds to go and allow Chris Kreider, who had been rendered mute the entire game series despite his best efforts to dipsy-doodle around every Lowell defenseman he saw, to bury a shot and the game with 13.8 on the clock.

Carter Hutton allowed three goals this weekend on 69 shots and never had a chance on any of them. None of those “one he’d like back” goals. There’s a lot of reasons Lowell has basically ruined its only chance in the last decade to win anything of consequence but Carter Hutton has more than held up his end of the bargain.

This is all on the offense.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Keith permalink
    February 15, 2010 2:01 am

    sad, frustrating and … just shouldn’t be like this, especially this season

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