Attention all students of Boston College. Your Eagles (19-10-3) have slipped into sixth place in the nation and the world is not, I repeat, not going to end.
While BC’s men’s ice hockey team may have lost its grip on first place in the nation, the Eagles are still going to comfortably make the NCAA tournament, and have a shot at winning the Hockey East.
With all the moodiness going about campus, no one would know they've have actually gone 5-3-1 this past month.
This “abysmal” 5-3-1 is actually quite impressive given the circumstances. Absences from Patch Alber, Colin Sullivan and Patrick Wey have stretched the defensive corps thin, and injuries to Kevin Hayes and Steven Whitney have caused the forwards to scramble for any sort of chemistry. Any of these players could be on the first line of other competitive college hockey programs. Additionally, the expected return to earth of Parker Milner has left Boston College on the losing side of more games than the average SuperFan would want to see.
Another huge part of why BC has stumbled in the standings is the disappearance of Johnny Gaudreau. The sophomore sniper has seemed to have lost his touch and finishing abilities. However, Gaudreau’s drought has coincided with the removal of Whitney from his line.
In an attempt to spread the scoring and increase the depth of the lines, Coach Jerry York has split up his first two forward sets. Despite going 5-3-1 in the past month, the Eagles have gone 1-5-1 in their last seven at home. These records do not bode well for a team that is forced to hit cruise control because of injuries.
Do not be frightened though, for there are a lot of good things to like about this club going forward.
Steven Whitney and Patrick Wey will be back in the lineup for the rest of the season, having only been held out of games for precautionary reasons. Patch Alber, out since Jan. 1, when he underwent corrective surgery for a damaged meniscus, is on the path to recovery and could be ready come tournament time. His presence would bring stability to a blue line that is asking for big minutes from its freshmen Michael Matheson, Teddy Doherty, Travis Jeke and Colin Sullivan. Sullivan is recovering from various ailments and would greatly benefit from the insertion of Alber, a notorious minutes-eater.
The cherry on the top is that BC’s two remaining games are against Vermont, who has gone 11-16-5 so far this season. BC was able to put away the Catamounts with relative ease back on Feb. 1, by a score of 4-1. That was without Alber in the lineup and Matheson just returning from a concussion.
The key to that victory was the play of the Eagles’ first line: Gaudreau, Mullane and Whitney. It may be wise of Jerry to consider reuniting the trio for this weekend’s series to reestablish chemistry and at least have one very potent line, instead of four semi-balanced lines.
As of right now, BC is slotted to face St. Cloud State in the first round of the NCAA tournament. St. Cloud has lost both games against their only common opponent, UNH, against whom BC has gone 1-1-1.
The return of the team’s top line, as well as senior defenseman Patch Alber, should propel the Eagles into at least the second round. Before that can happen, this weekend series in Vermont should act as a gauge for a depleted BC team searching for chemistry and consistency.
Relax, SuperFans, the Final Four is still within reach.