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Loose pucks: Something to talk about

November 27, 2012

Three things that we enjoy:
1) Two in a row.

Hey, we’ll take four points of a possible four any way Lowell can get them, and as authoritative as the win in Amherst was, the win against Princeton was anything but. However, we’ll say it again: This team needs wins right now, and needs them very, very, very badly, so the mental effect of getting them against even the lowliest competition can’t be too insignificant. We just hope that carries into this weekend.

2) Scott Wilson.

Nice to see him back. Four points is a good number but against an Amherst team trotting out its backup to the backup, we weren’t willing to get too psyched about his ability to start putting up multiple points a night. But then he went out and added two more assists against Princeton, and, as with the team itself, we’re starting to believe again, though in Wilson’s case, perhaps more vehemently. We’d love to see more goals from the kid, but as long as he’s setting them up, someone else logically has to be scoring them. A we’ll add here that it sure was nice to see Terrence Wallin score a very nice goal to open Lowell’s account on Saturday.

3) Connor Hellebuyck.

We’ve said all along that his game against Denver looked really awful on the stat sheet (5.97/.821) but it wasn’t as bad as all that. In that game, the very partisan Denver announcers regularly sung his praises before the team melted down in front of him. The Hellebuyck we saw on Saturday was more of that one, and less of the one who got shelled in the blink of an eye. He was poised, well-positioned, and made a number of strong saves, including one potential game-saver on a breakaway early in the second period. We’re starting to think that, unlike last season, if something terrible were to happen to Doug Carr, that Lowell wouldn’t be in the worst imaginable position. Hellebuyck can play, and 1.00/.957 looks a lot better.

Two things that we disenjoy:
1) Maybe losing Riley Wetmore.

Lowell’s captain missed part of the second and all of the third period on Saturday and we haven’t heard much about his continued status for this weekend since. We can’t imagine that a Wetmore-less River Hawks roster will fare particularly well against a full-force UNH.

2) UNH coming to town.

Apart from blowing that four-goal lead and settling for a tie with CC on Friday, there’s not much in the Wildcats’ last several games to persuade us they’re anything but a juggernaut. Though their only loss this season WAS to Amherst, so one supposes anything is possible.

Stat of the Week
With regard to that last negative item, we’ll point out that these will already the sixth and seventh games Lowell has played against nationally-ranked teams this season out of its 12 total, drawing pretty close to the entire number of games against sides in the same position all of last season (of which there were 11 of 38). But how, you might be wondering, does Lowell do against these teams with Norm Bazin behind the bench?

The bad news — in fact, the verrrrrrrry bad news — is that Lowell is just 1-4 against ranked teams this year. However, taking last year into account as well, when the River Hawks went 5-6-1 against teams that were ranked at the time of their meeting, the numbers remain rather discouraging. Lowell being 6-10-1 against teams in the top 20 over the last season-and-a-third is no way for a ranked team to play, but there is some good news. Apart from Boston College, to which Lowell has lost four times since Bazin took over, no ranked team has ever beaten the ‘Hawks more than once.

As you might have guessed, Lowell only played ranked teams in Hockey East more than once (BC, BU, and Merrimack; neither UNH nor Maine were ranked for the games Lowell beat them last season). Again, against the Eagles the River Hawks have a dismal 1-4 record, and the 1-1-1 against the Warriors isn’t much better. But against BU, they’re 2-1.

Here, then, is a full summary of their performances against all ranked competition in the 48 games of the Bazin era:

Wins: BU x2, BC, Colorado College, Merrimack, Miami
Losses: BC x4, Denver, UNH, Maine, BU, Merrimack, Union
Ties: Merrimack

We remind you as ever, though, that polls are worthless.

Rollin’ on the river
Perhaps this is a bit of pre-pardum depression on our part but is anyone else bummed that Lowell only has two games before break after this weekend? Where does the time go?

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