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Loose pucks: What to make of it?

January 2, 2013

Three things that make you strong:
1) Ryan McGrath.

Sure was nice seeing this kid score twice, and not just because his goals were extremely important (moreso than they should ever have been) to actually beating Bentley. He’s had the look about him for most of the year that he was ready to start contributing more consistently, but hadn’t yet done so. His first goal came on a nice shot and his second came as a result of his ever-present persistence around the net. He probably could have had another point, too, had Lowell’s second disallowed goal not been called back. If Lowell is going to do anything in the second half of the season, it’s guys like McGrath who need to step up and contribute more.

2) Hockey is back.

Break is just about the worst thing, and having hockey back now, even if it was a bad game against Bentley, is better than no hockey at all. Hopefully the team is back fresh and healthy and ready to play convincing, winning hockey.

3) Into the thick of things.

Of course, the above won’t be easy. Lowell’s next four games are all on the road, and all a significant way away from the Tsongas Center. Then it’s back home for a game with Providence before going back on the road again at BU and Northeastern in successive weeks. We don’t think we have to remind you that Lowell’s record isn’t anything to write home about at 3-3-0. But these next seven games, most of which aren’t against anything resembling mighty opponents, are going to tell us a lot about the quality of the team going forward, and if we should even bother getting excited for the playoffs, which are now just two months or so away.

Two things that show you’re weak:
1) Letting Bentley keep it close.

This was no way to return from a lengthy break. Just an awful performance.

2) A brewing goaltending controversy.

Not that we want to start trouble here but the two goals Bentley scored on Sunday were soft, and coupled with Doug Carr’s previous performances, and the way in which Connor Hellebuyck very convincingly shut out both Northeastern and Harvard in successive games, might it be time to start leaning more on a rotation than any one guy? Not to take anything away from Carr’s performance, because he stopped two breakaways and a penalty shot to keep Lowell in it, but the team seems to lack urgency when he’s in net.

Stat of the Week
Of course, it might not be SO bad that Lowell struggled mightily against Bentley on Sunday, because it just might give the team a bit of a wakeup call. Remember, if you dare, how ugly things were in that holiday tournament last year? A year prior, to the day, Lowell went down to UConn and needed a lengthy overtime period to put down the Huskies 4-3 in the finals of that tourney, a night after stomping the guts out of an ECAC opponent (RPI) and winning by five. The River Hawks’ last result before the Bentley debacle was, of course, a 5-0 win over Harvard.

That horrifying game in Storrs seemed to set the table nicely for a little Lowell run, as it took victories in seven of its next nine games, winning a combined 30-15 on aggregate. Now, we’re not saying that will happen here or anything like that, but maybe, just maybe, playing like crap against a vastly inferior opponent is what a Bazin-coached Lowell team needs to get its head back in the game for the second half. At least, that’s what we’re telling ourselves.

A bummer
The one thing we will say we’re upset about is the fact that Clarkson and Vermont are so far away. We just got done with break, and now we won’t see the team again for another two weeks. No fun.

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