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Friday thoughts: Pretty much what we expected

October 30, 2010

Let’s make no mistake about it: Lowell was completely outclassed by BU.

Certainly, it’s not surprising that, in a game of mistakes, the team with a paucity of experience and relative skill was made to pay dearly for its miscues and errors, no matter how minor. Over and over, and over and over and over, again.

Now granted, this is a Lowell team that’s still learning. But the mistakes made last night shouldn’t be happening.

For much of the first period, the teams played a fairly even game, and Lowell even drew a couple of penalties by working hard and, as that old coaches’ saying goes, keeping their feet moving. But it turned out that one of those penalties was Lowell’s undoing.

It was Derek Arnold’s frustration at having turned the puck over along the right halfboards that led to his laziness in trying to regain the puck, which in turn allowed David Warsofsky to rocket through neutral ice with Alex Chiasson streaking down his right wing in ridealong. Marc Boulanger, who played somewhat for most of last night (if you ignore that whole “five goals against on 20 shots,” the third goal of which was completely and certainly his fault, and that of the too-lively endboards), was dead to rights.

But even then, we thought Lowell was a bit resilient in closing out the period and even had a few decentish chances at goal prior to the buzzer. After that, though, was a whole different story.

BU came out of the first intermission with a serious case of enmity, surely the result of Jack Parker being unhappy with its overall play in the first period despite the one-goal advantage. This was evidenced by the clinical finishing and total commitment to embarrassing its opposition that allowed it to widen the lead four-fold in a matter of 5:10. Chris Connolly picked up the eventual gamewinner at just 1:59, and Corey Trivino and Charlie Coyle had extended the lead beyond all hope of recovery within just over three minutes. By the time Coyle picked up the foyrth goal, though, there was little celebration. BU had accomplished the wishes of its coaches and was now, seemingly, just kind of embarrassed by the whole affair. The slouched shoulders and half-shrugged congratulations of teammates seemed to say, “Yes, this is what we can do when we play well, but at this point it just seems kind of mean so we’re going to stop.”

It was a good thing, too, because between Chiasson’s icebreaker and Coyle’s coffin-nailer, Boulanger had conceded four goals on just eight shots. You can chalk that up to merely a few bad minutes, or a confluence of negative circumstances or anything else. But the fact is it happened, and, until this team learns how to erase bad plays from its collective consciousness, it will continue to happen for much of the year.

So, too, will plays like Sahir Gill’s shorthanded goal, the second Lowell allowed in as many periods, as long as the River Hawks continue to dawdle with the puck on the power play. Turnovers are going to happen, but there were a lot of them in this game (Boulanger successfully stood up to another BU shorthanded odd-man rush as well), and that’s going to be a huge problem when you run the kind of power play that Lowell does. The umbrella isn’t widely used, except by teams with two opposite-shot players who can absolutely thunder it at the net, because it can lead to situations like the one we saw last night. One bad giveaway, one scrum in which a player isn’t completely dogged in his attempts to work the puck to his advantage, and teams with lots of speed or skill — BU, in this case, has both — can get a 2-on-1 isolating the man in the middle of the blue line in a hurry.

And once up 5-0, Parker seemed to call off his dogs a bit. Lowell couldn’t have buckled down so much that it ended up outshooting a team that had just outscored it by five goals through 40 minutes by a margin of 11-3. It simply doesn’t happen that way. But whatever the cause, it’s difficult to argue with the result: at least Lowell stopped bleeding goals, and at least it broke up the shutout. With a team like this, you have to set certain, attainable goals. Certainly, both those things were within reach, and so to see Lowell accomplish that is, well, fine by us.

But there’s trouble down the road. Scott Campbell, absent much of the third period, picked up an injury that will apparently keep him out of the lineup for a somewhat significant amount of time. In addition, this team’s scoring and defensive woes have come not from freshmen, but from seniors and juniors. The top three scorers on this team are Chad Ruhwedel, Riley Wetmore and Josh Holmstrom, a freshman, sophomore and freshman, respectively. Meanwhile, the two top returning scorers from last year, Campbell and David Vallorani, have the same number of points (three) as Mike Budd, who, by the way, picked up the first Ill-Advised Mike Budd Penalty of the season last night.

Defensively, it doesn’t get much better, as Campbell is a minus-4, and Maury Edwards is a minus-6. And while those guys are likely playing the hardest five-on-five competition of anyone on the team, it’s not like Ruhwedel, who’s a plus-4, isn’t getting top minutes. Blame sample size, but the way this team is playing, we don’t see it getting much better in the near future either.

Lowell does this all again in just a few hours (apologies, by the way, for the lateness), and then travels to BC on Tuesday. If the ‘Hawks can keep the opposition from scoring a combined 12 goals, we might petition the league to count that as a W as well.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Doug W. permalink
    October 30, 2010 9:14 pm

    The upcoming scheduling seems a little harsh. Two games this weekend, a game Tuesday, and two games next weekend. I shudder to think how a lack of good rest time is going to effect the next three games when we’re already being sloppy.

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