Tonight in Cambridge the women's hockey team has its biggest game of the year to date, a matchup with #3 Harvard. Last year, the Eagles beat Harvard 4-3 in the women's Beanpot semifinal in an incredible, 3OT game. I'm hoping for a similar result this year, but Harvard is better this year than they were last year. This one is going to be a challenge.
I made a few posts on USCHO looking toward the game:
"I've been looking up lots of stats and info for Harvard, trying to figure out just what it is that's made this year's version better than last year's.
They are outscoring their opponents 46-12 and only give up 1 goal per game on average. That's unreal.
They outshoot opponents by an average 34.7-19.0, but BC typically gets outshot so that stat doesn't really worry me; if Harvard only gets 35-40 shots I'm sure Schaus would consider it a relief after last year
It sounds pretty obvious, but BC is going to have to stay out of the box as Harvard's PP rate is 27.4%.
A few things encourage me: despite getting outshot badly, UConn hung with Harvard, not giving up a goal until more than halfway through the 3rd and losing 2-0. Also, Providence lost 4-1, which isn't exactly a slaughter. I think that BC will definitely be in the game and have a chance, which is all you can really ask for.
Also, in the Harvard thread, Skate79's (rightfully) glowingly positive analysis also included one sign of trouble - Harvard made many bad passes and gave up a lot of odd man rushes to Cornell, who did not convert due to a lack of offensive firepower. BC is kind of the hockey equivalent to basketball's fast break offense - if the Eagles get '8-10' odd man rushes as Cornell apparently did, I expect a few to end up in the back of the net.
BC definitely won't be afraid going into the game, having beaten Harvard twice in a row. That's really important from a mental aspect.
Something else interesting I've noticed is that BC has done pretty well against the teeth of the ECAC in the last three seasons:
1/4/08: WIN vs. St. Lawrence, 5-2
1/3/08: LOSS vs. St. Lawrence, 3-1
3/10/07: WIN @ Dartmouth, 3-2
2/6/07: WIN vs. Harvard, 4-3
1/5/07: TIE vs. St. Lawrence, 4-4
12/31/06: LOSS @ Dartmouth, 2-1
2/14/06: WIN @ Harvard, 2-0
11/8/05: LOSS @ Dartmouth, 3-2
4-3-1 against three of the powerhouses of women's hockey, with two losses coming by just one goal. 3-1-1 in the last 5.
The moral of the story?
Harvard's really good, but I'm not fearing a blowout or anything of the sort. It's going to have to be the same predictable script if BC is going to win: tons of incredible saves by Schaus, really hard work in the defensive zone, and opportunistic offense - but I don't mind predictable scripts, as long as the movie has a good ending. "
Just a few rambling thoughts watching video of the HAR-DAR game from earlier this year:
-I hope coach King skates the Fardelmann line against the Vaillancourt line whenever possible. I think Fards has the speed and two-way ability to keep up with her. We also need our faster d-men on the ice against that line.
-I'd love to see a pairing of Kurth and Taverna on the blue line. A nice juxtaposition of one of BC's better defensive players with a great offensive defenseman.
-Quick shifts, quick shifts, quick shifts... it's going to take a high intensity, 60 minute effort to skate with Harvard. I hope the 3rd line is ready to carry their share of the load.
-Harvard is an incredibly skilled team, but I don't think they are dominant in the way UNH is. I get this sense from the three times I saw them in person last year + the video this year. They don't smother the life out of you the way the 'Cats do. I think the Eagles will have their share of chances in the offensive zone, I really do.
-Harvard's penalty kill is just ferocious. Power play is going to need to continue the good work they did against SLU. I'm thinking it might be a good idea to switch Stack and Taverna's spot on the power play, putting Taverna on the point and Stack on the wing... Taverna is a stronger puck handler and has a better shot. I think the only way to crack the Crimson PP is shots from the point. Even the Big Green, who are better on paper than BC, had trouble getting anything going down low.
-Way too obvious, but NO STUPID PENALTIES. Harvard PP is lethal.
-The Crimson create a lot of turnovers and just feast on dumb passes so BC needs to be careful. No hanging Schaus out to try.
-Decent shots become low percentage shots against Molly Schaus. Don't be deceived by the shot totals. I'm sure BC will let Harvard get a lot of shots off, but as long as she can see the shot and it's not coming on an odd man rush, I feel good about Schaus's chances of turning it away.
This is going to be fun. Harvard is much deeper, faster and stronger on paper (and they are much better at handling the puck) but they are definitely beatable.
Prediction: Harvard 3, BC 2
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