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Weekend preview: Second chances for the same mistakes

November 3, 2011

The Lowell River Hawks (2-3-0, 0-2-0 HE) vs. the Boston University Terriers (3-2-1, 2-1-1 HE)

7 p.m. Saturday at Tsongas Center, Lowell, Mass.

Lowell is tied for ninth in Hockey East with no points from two games. Boston University is fourth in Hockey East with five points from four games.

Last three games
Lowell — 3-6 at BC, 2-4 vs. BC, 2-3 (OT) vs. UConn.
BU — 5-4 (OT) vs. UMass Amherst, 2-2 (OT) at UMass Amherst, 4-5 vs. Holy Cross.

Prior meetings
Lowell trails BU 18-67-8, all-time.

Season series
Nothing to report.

Top scorers
Lowell:
Riley Wetmore — 5 GP, 3-2-5 (2 GP, 0-0-0 HE)
Joseph Pendenza — 5, 2-3-5 (2, 1-2-3)
Matt Ferreira — 5, 3-1-4 (2, 1-0-1)
Derek Arnold — 5, 2-2-4 (2, 0-0-0)
Terrence Wallin — 5, 1-2-3 (2, 0-0-0)

BU:
Matt Nieto — 6 GP, 6-4-10 (4 GP, 4-3-7 HE)
Charlie Coyle — 6, 1-8-9 (4, 1-5-6)
Sahir Gill — 6, 3-5-8 (4, 2-4-6)
Alex Chiasson — 6, 4-3-7 (3, 1-2-3)
Corey Trivino — 6, 4-3-7 (4, 3-1-4)

Goaltending
Lowell:
Brian Robbins (1-2-0) — 3 GP, 137:51, 3.92 GAA/.852 sv% (1 GP, 16:57, 14.16* GAA/.692* sv% HE)
Doug Carr (1-1-0) — 2, 119:46, 2.00 GAA/.909 sv% (1, 184:00, 3.01/.842)
Marc Boulanger (0-0-0) — 1, 43:03, 2.79 GAA/.818 sv% (same)

*[Ed note: Not a typo]
BU:
Kieran Millan (2-2-1) — 5 GP, 303:06, 2.97 GAA/.911 sv% (1 GP, 184:47, 2.27 GAA/.930 sv% HE)
Grant Rollheiser (1-0-0) — 1, 63:12, 3.80 GAA/.879 sv% (same)

Team stats
Lowell:
Overall (5 games) — 15 goals for (3.00/gm), 16 goals against (3.20/gm). Power play 5/28 (17.9%, 1 SHGA), penalty kill 14/18 (77.8%, 0 SHGF)
Hockey East (2 games) — 5 goals for (2.50/gm), 10 goals against (5.00/gm). Power play 1/10 (10.0%, 1 SHGA), penalty kill 5/8 (62.5%, 0 SHGF)

BU:
Overall (6 games) — 23 goals for (3.83/gm), 19 goals against (3.17/gm). Power play 4/30 (13.3%, 0 SHGA), penalty kill 29/36 (80.6%, 4 SHGF)
Hockey East (4 games) — 15 goals for (3.75/gm), 11 goals against (2.75/gm). Power play 3/20 (15.0%, 0 SHGA), penalty kill 20/23 (83.3%, 1 SHGF)

Outlook
This game offers Lowell a chance to wash away its sins from last weekend, so to speak. And that goes for everyone involved with the team.

For example, the River Hawks forwards have a chance to start taking the garbage they drop in front of the net, and start putting it into the back of it. The team has scored just 15 goals on 192 shots this season, and that simply isn’t good enough. While some attackers had very strong weekends in our estimation (Joe Pendenza, Matt Ferreira, Mike Budd), others, like Riley Wetmore and David Vallorani, likely spent the weekend practicing for Halloween, because their Invisible Man costumes were very life-like.

(Okay, yes, Vallorani had a pair of helpers in Friday’s loss, but boy if they weren’t two of the Valloraniest assists of all time. On Budd’s goal, one could make a creditable argument that a BC defender controlled the puck between the point at which Vallorani MAY have touched it and Budd regained it, and indeed, it sure looks like Billy Eiserman should’ve gotten the primary. On the second, he passed the puck to Pendenza, whose shot bounced in off Ferreira’s chest. This kid’s going to get to 100 points in his career with ease because of a dozen nights or more exactly like that.)

The defense also has a lot of amends to make, after losing their coverage on the second and third BC goals on Friday and just turning in a wretched performance all around on Saturday. BU’s top players are just as incisive and deadly as BC’s, and losing any of them in coverage would likewise put Lowell in a terribly disadvantageous situation once again this weekend. Everyone needs to be better on the blue line.

And speaking of areas in which everyone needs to be better, how about special teams? BC gifted Lowell 10 power plays last weekend and the River Hawks scored on just one (it was, of course, on Saturday, when the game was completely out of reach and the goal mattered 0 percent in the final outcome), but also surrendered a shorthanded goal, effectively negating any positive to be found in the abysmal man-up performance. Meanwhile, the PK went just 5 for 8, and BC or not, a 62.5 percent in-conference kill rate will sink your boat every time.

The goaltenders also have to be better, but it’s not so much on them this weekend. That’s because new coach Norm Bazin has the ability to make the almost shockingly easy decision and start Doug Carr.

Last Saturday showed us that Carr should be the starter for Lowell (as was the case last year as well) until he screws up royally. As in, if he starts playing as badly as the other two goaltenders’ stats and performances reflect. We’ll note again that we have nothing against Brian Robbins per se, but no matter how bad the defense in front of him is, he has to stop more shots no matter who he’s playing. Carr has done that, if unspectacularly, where his teammates have not.

We hope all involved make up for past mistakes on Saturday. Being 1-2-0 in Hockey East will feel a lot better than being 0-3-0.

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