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Loose pucks: Did you think your song and dance and your superstition would help you?

April 9, 2013

Three things that are makin’ it:
1) Heading to Pittsburgh.

Not that we ever envisioned a life in which we would be actively anticipating a trip to Pittsburgh, especially after what Bret Hart — rather accurately — said about it that one time, but here we are, just about 30 hours before the biggest game anyone has ever seen Lowell play. Can we just go to sleep for exactly that long? Please?

2) Supreme confidence.

We’ve said it again and again during this run, but we’ve gone into pretty much every Lowell game since the home loss to Providence knowing, absolutely and unequivocally, that the River Hawks would walk away victorious. We probably wouldn’t have predicted the ways some of these wins have broken — edging Maine in overtime, laying a devastating beatdown on Wisconsin, etc. — but certainly the feeling walking into each of those games, and we’ve been at all of them, was that these were slam-dunk, no-doubt results. While others sweated out the one-goal results, we sat back and laughed and how cute it was to see Maine and Providence and BU and UNH play at being “in” games late. They were never in those games. Lowell always had them well in hand. So it is with Thursday’s game with Yale.

3) It’s almost here.

Just imagine the joy we are going to take from watching all this play out. Just imagine it.

Two things that staying behind:
1) River Hawks are real.

One of the most common jokes pathetic would-be yukksters bring up about Lowell’s fearsome mascot, the River Hawk, is that they do not exist. And while we have neither the time nor inclination to wade through the high school and, if we’re stretching credulity to its breaking point, college transcripts of these people whose career ceilings likely reach mere “tank wipe,” we would guess there aren’t too many ornithology courses on there. The fact of the matter is that a River Hawk is another name for a bird of prey called an osprey, which, as the moniker implies, lives by rivers and feeds largely on fish. And hey, wouldn’t you know it, ospreys also bear a striking resemblance to Rowdy the River Hawk. So the next time someone tries to tell you River Hawks aren’t real, you don’t need to point only to the results of the last two seasons to prove them wrong. You can also tell ’em to hit a search engine.

2) Choking down more media drivel.

We understand that, to a certain extent, the college hockey media has to sit there and pretend that the Frozen Four is going to be in any way interesting, but if we hear one more story about how this is great for hockey in Connecticut (it’s not) or how any old team has a chance because of everyone’s lack of experience, we might just lose it. Again, you have to come up with something, anything really, to make this seem like a competitive field in Pittsburgh, but we’re talking about three Glass Joes and one Mike Tyson in the first 1:30 of the first round. Half the reason we’re glad it’s almost Thursday is that we won’t have to hear another word about two of these rather crummy teams.

Stat of the Week
Last week we examined the incredible defense Lowell has posted in its tidy little run of playoff success, but now we’re thinking a bit bigger. Over the last 10 games, the River Hawks have allowed just 10 goals, which is obviously a very impressive run. But is it the best in Lowell history?

Nope. While it’s certainly the most impressive run including playoff games (and by a pretty wide margin, actually, since you’ll recall that Lowell does not traditionally have much success in the postseason, due largely to a vast conspiracy against the team), it’s actually not quite so good as the run put together by Jimi St. John, Cam McCormick, and the team’s defensive structure in 2001-02.

From Nov. 10 to Dec. 29, 2001, that team simply dominated defensively, allowing just eight goals in 10 games, thanks in large part to six shutouts during that stretch. Those wins included back-to-back 1-0 wins at UNH and hosting Amherst, then a 3-2 win at Mullins Center, a 4-0 win against Army, a 3-0 shutout at UNion, a 3-2 win hosting BU,  a North Country sweep of 4-0 at St. Lawrence and 3-2 at Clarkson, then a 2-0 win against Harvard in the Denver Cup before a 2-1 loss against the hosts of that tournament in its championship game.

Of course, that was in the days of college hockey being an absolute feast for goaltenders — remember that the vast majority of the league’s best goaltending performances came in the first half of the last decade, and that’s for a reason — so to see the team doing it now, when offense is slightly more free-wheeling, is extraordinary. And yet, because it’s this particular Lowell team, very ordinary indeed.

I told you I was going to eat you up
You know the gimmick by now: Two Minutes’ Hate tomorrow morning. Preview early game day. Game thoughts relatively soon after the River Hawks wrap up another easy W. Good work everyone. Thanks for your support.

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