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Tuesday thoughts: At least they kept it respectable

November 3, 2010

You might look at the final score and say Lowell went to BC, lost 5-2 and probably didn’t look great doing it.

Statistically, you’d be pretty much right. Outshot 30-17, gave up a(nother) shorthanded goal, just 1 for 8 on the power play. Not pretty. And it’s not like you couldn’t have expected that.

BC was always going to be out for blood, having been punked out in North Andover by Merrimack on Saturday, and Lowell was always going to be a bit timid against a team with that kind of firepower.

But there was also something there tonight. Almost a reason to think this team is finally getting it together.

They’re just not there yet.

It came as little surprise that BC opened up a two-goal lead in the first period. After all, this was Lowell/BC and the River Hawks were not exactly accustomed to defending especially well in their first games against other Hockey East teams. Between the Maine, Providence, Northeastern and first BU game, they had conceded 21 goals. By the time BC had widened the deficit to 4-0, it wasn’t hard to see why.

At the time, shots were something like 17-6, and Marc Boulanger had once again made a pig’s ear of his first 29 minutes or so of work. Giveaways by the admittedly freshman goalie contributed at least indirectly to two of the goals, the more egregious of which being the fourth, which came shorthanded, as he stubbornly insisted on attempting to play the puck instead of leaving it for his defenseman and then allowed BC to wrap it around the net.

But when Jimmy Hayes pumped it past Boulanger — marking his ninth goal against in the previous three and a half periods (on 34 shots in that time, mind you) — that seemed to awaken something in Lowell. Now, obviously, it was too little, and far, far too late. But the River Hawks answered with two goals just 1:01 apart, halving the lead and, more importantly, snapping to. After that, the game was far more even, and though Lowell didn’t score or even have the majority of the remaining shots (they were outshot 16-13 the rest of the way), it was as though the game had been leveled.

This was no longer the team that had been bossed by Maine and BU. This was the team that didn’t quit against Providence when it easily could have, and gave BU a hell of a game on Saturday. This was a team that was playing with heads held high rather than slumped shoulders and hangdog expressions.

And the charge was, once again, led by freshmen. Derek Arnold made up for his terrible defensive play that allowed Chris Kreider to open the scoring (how are you going to let a first-round pick with a sniper’s vision fly down the wing uncovered just because it’s not your natural side of the ice?) with a perfectly nice goal. Then Josh Holmstrom picked up his fifth assist of the year in setting up birthday boy Matt Ferreira for a rebound goal (this after the junior positively bottled an gimme shorthanded bid earlier in the game). Heck, Arnold almost scored late in the third period as well only to be denied on a spectacular save by John Muse.

Not, once again, that any of it mattered.

Even BC’s seeming desire to allow Lowell back into the game by positively parading to the penalty box was not enough to get the River Hawks any closer than two goals down, and given the way they played in the opening 30 minutes, that’s probably all they deserved.

So to recap: Lowell got outshot by a wide margin (and didn’t break double digits until the third period), which we expected. Lowell gave up five (again), which we expected. Lowell didn’t play well on special teams (particularly the power play), which we expected. Lowell got horrendous goaltending from Marc Boulanger (and it’s beginning to become apparent that Doug Carr should be The Guy), which we expected. Lowell continued to get no contribution from anyone it needs to start scoring (anyone seen David Vallorani?), which we expected. Lowell still suffered from a serious case of the Freshman Mistakes (for obvious reasons), which we expected.

But Lowell also gave BC a bit of a fight. And we didn’t expect that at all.

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