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Weekend preview: No more Mr. Nice Guys

February 19, 2010

The Lowell River Hawks (15-13-2, 9-10-2 HE) vs. the No. 15 Maine Black Bears (14-11-3, 11-8-2 HE)

7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Alfond Arena, Orono, Maine

Lowell is seventh in Hockey East with 20 points from 21 games and Maine is third in Hockey East with 24 points from 21 games.

Last three games
Lowell — 1-2 at BC, 4-1 vs. BC, 1-3 at Merrimack
Maine — 2-5 at BU, 4-7 at BU, 6-3 vs. UNH

Prior meetings
Lowell trails Maine 27-68-3, all-time.

Season series
Lowell lost to Maine 3-1 with a dismal effort in Lowell on Nov. 27.

Top scorers
Lowell:
Kory Falite — 30 GP, 14-12-26 (21 GP, 8-8-16 HE)
Scott Campbell — 30, 11-14-25 (21, 7-9-16)
David Vallorani — 30, 9-14-23 (21, 6-10-16)
Nick Schaus — 28, 4-18-22 (21, 3-13-16)
Paul Worthington — 30, 11-8-19 (21, 9-5-14)

Maine:
Gustav Nyquist — 28 GP, 14-28-42 (21 GP, 8-19-27 HE)
Brian Flynn — 28, 9-19-28 (21, 6-15-21)
Will O’Neill — 28, 5-19-24 (21, 4-15-19)
Tanner House — 28, 13-10-23 (21, 9-7-16)
Jeff Dimmen — 28, 8-13-21 (21, 8-9-17)

Goaltending
Lowell:
Carter Hutton (9-9-0) — 18 GP, 1,077:39 minutes, 2.06 GAA/.930 sv% (12 GP, 720:48 minutes, 2.50 GAA/.921 sv% HE)
Nevin Hamilton (6-4-2) — 12, 725:14, 2.73/.911 (9, 546:22, 2.86/.910 HE)

Maine:
Scott Darling (14-4-3) — 24 GP, 1,339:27 minutes, 2.87 GAA/.903 sv% (19 GP, 1,056:33 minutes, 2.67 GAA/.908 sv% HE)

Team stats
Lowell:
Overall (30 games) — 90 goals for (3.00/gm), 71 goals against (2.37/gm). Power play 30/150 (20.0%, 4 SHGA), penalty kill 112/136 (82.4%, 1 SHGF)
Hockey East (21 games) — 62 goals for (2.95/gm), 57 goal against (2.71/gm). Power play 21/109 (19.3%, 4 SHGA), penalty kill 78/98 (79.6%, 0 SHGF)

Maine:
Overall (28 games) — 103 goals for (3.68/gm), 93 goals against (3.32/gm). Power play 47/158 (29.7%, 4 SHGA), penalty kill 115/146 (78.8%, 4 SHGF)
HE (21 games) — 72 goals for (3.43/gm), 66 goals against (3.14/gm). Power play 31/112 (27.7%, 2 SHGA), penalty kill 92/114 (80.7%, 3 SHGF)

Outlook
Well once again on paper this should get ugly. Maine leads the league in offense by a slim margin over Boston College, and while not necessarily stingy overall, they’ve only allowed 28 goals in 12 home games.

That, of course, translates to bad news for Lowell, which can’t score against anyone to save its life. But we think, for some reason, that these will be two fairly tight games. For one thing Gustav Nyquist is obviously key to Maine’s success. He has 42 points this year and more assists than Lowell’s leading scorer has total points, but has never scored against a Lowell goalie and only has three assists to show for his four games against the River Hawks, in which his Black Bears are 1-3-0.

It would obviously behoove Lowell to shut down Nyquist if for no other reason than he’s a Hobey Baker candidate with a lethal shot and ice vision for miles. But even beyond that, he has been held without a point five times this year (we know, right?!) and Maine is 1-4-0 in those with 14 goals for (2.8 G/gm) and 24 against (4.8). Basically what that means is if Nyquist is off his game, Maine tends not to hold possession and gets outscored considerably by its opponents. So, Lowell, this really goes without saying, but put a body on him. Hell, put nine bodies on him. Don’t give him room to breathe.

The Maine defense is no great shakes, considering it allows close to a goal a game more than Lowell and, even in the game in which it held Lowell to just one goal on 28 shots, wasn’t particularly influential, all things considered. That game was dictated far more by a few ugly goals for the Black Bears and complete ineptitude on Lowell’s part than anything its defense did.

Maine’s game runs through Nyquist. Lowell’s game runs through its defense and goaltending. It’s far more likely that one guy has an off night than seven at once, but then this is Lowell-at-Alfond we’re talking about, so really, who knows what to expect?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. stevo permalink
    February 19, 2010 4:54 pm

    I hope Nick Schaus goes Bear hunting this weekend, like he did against BC. Nyquist’s head would look good on Lowells mantel place

  2. Matt permalink
    February 20, 2010 4:11 pm

    Did a fine job containing Nyquist and the rest of his linemates on Friday :(

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