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Loose pucks: It’s all coming together

January 15, 2013

Three things that have us dancing:
1) Seven in a row.

Tough to complain about this kind of winning streak, a feat Lowell didn’t even accomplish at the height of its powers last year. During this miraculous run, the River Hawks have now outscored opponents 22-10 (3.14-1.43 per game). You really can’t ask for much more than that, but screw it, we’re going to: Lowell needs to crush Providence on Thursday. No other way around it. Continuing this run against not-very-good teams (and make no mistake, Providence is not very good, especially on the road) is vital to making up ground in the Hockey East standings.

2) Deadly special teams.

As you might expect, a terribly important part of keeping a winning streak alive is the ability to push teams around when given the opportunity,  and Lowell finally seized that this weekend. The ‘Hawks went 6 of 18 on the power play, and once again allowed its opponent to score none at all, this time on nine chances. That runs Lowell’s success rate on the PK to 32 straight, and a whopping 86.1 percent. Hell, during this eight-game stretch, the team has outscored its opponents when shorthanded, 2-0. That’s just crazy.

3) National TV.

Thursday’s game against Providence marks the first time we can recall Lowell being on actual national television (apart from when it was in the NCAA tournament), well, ever. Hopefully things don’t go as disastrously for Lowell as they did for the last Hockey East team that got a home game televised by the NBC Sports Network. We’ll be laughing about BU’s third-period meltdown for centuries to come.


Two things that have us moping:
1) Getting outscored and outshot at even strength.

Yeah so there was a dark lining behind that silver cloud of yet another weekend sweep. The fact of the matter is that though Lowell scored 10 goals, six of those were on the power play (though another came shorthanded, which counts for something). That means Lowell was actually outscored 5-3 at even strength, which isn’t all that good, and means that if Vermont weren’t so colossally dumb as to go to the box 18 times in two games, things might have shaken out differently. Of course, hockey stats nerds will tell you that goals are random events and don’t tell the whole story; but what does, at least in a slightly more descriptive way, is shot totals. Turns out Vermont pushed Lowell around in this regard as well. On the weekend, Lowell was outshot 54-49, a slim margin, and a small number for either team to have allowed. But when you take out the power plays, things get a little more lopsided. Lowell got 17 shots on the power play over the course of the weekend, including 14 on Saturday. That’s compared to Vermont’s 16 overall and 11 on Saturday. Not pretty, and something that definitely needs work.

2) A lack of things to complain about.

Actually, that’s not such a bad thing. We’ll take only one problem, and that a relatively minor one in the face of an invincible PK and seven-game winning streak, any day of the week.

Stat of the Week
After we brought you all those cool stats last week about the last time Lowell killed six straight games worth of penalties, we figured now is the time to go in the opposite direction.

Lowell scored six power play goals against Vermont this weekend, and we couldn’t imagine that happened in quite some time before it. So we started digging. In the last few seasons there had been instances of the team scoring five in a weekend, but to find the one in which it put up six in two games, you had to go all the way back to March 6 and 7, 2009, the last weekend before Lowell’s postseason run to the Hockey East finals began.

The opponent that weekend was Maine, which you’ll recall as having been truly awful that season. Lowell won both games, as you might expect for a team that scored six times on the power play, by finals of 5-3 and 6-0, respectively. The power play surge really got started on Friday, when the ‘Hawks went 4 for 8 with the man advantage, including three in the space of 4:50 in the second period. The next night they didn’t need that much offensive help thanks to a 21-save Carter Hutton shutout, but nonetheless, the team went 2 for 3. Maury Edwards had a pair of power play goals on the weekend, and the team overall went 6 for 11 (54.5 percent). After that performance, Lowell won its next three games (all of which were in the playoffs, and none of them were at home). So let’s hope that trend continues.

Go on Thursday
Obviously the school has prioritized getting people in the building for this nationally-televised game, which won’t be easy given that it’s a Thursday night against a team no one cares about. So if you have a reasonable ability to go to the game, you should definitely do that. You can even print out free tickets from the team’s website. No excuse not to go unless you’re in the hospital or something. And even then, that’s why the beds, chairs, and IV stands are on wheels.

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