Hockey East Random Thoughts (10/20/16)

Posted by: Mike McMahon

– For all the talk of what Providence lost heading into this season, the Friars have the best even-strength Corsi in Hockey East (60.1%) and it’s fifth-best in the nation. Yeah, they’re 1-2, and yeah, they lost to Holy Cross, but the Friars record will improve if the possession stats remain that high. Also, quality possession like that, even with so many new players in new roles, speaks to how good Providence’s coaching is. There’s no getting around it, Nate Leaman and Norm Bazin (Lowell keeps chugging along) are two of the best in the business right now.

Providence’s PDO is just 95.87 right now, in large part due to a team save percentage of .889. I’m expecting that to be a lot better, and even the Friars’ 7.0 shooting percentage is likely to come up. The possession metrics tell us that Providence has had the puck a lot, they just haven’t been finishing it. At the same time, opponents are finishing chances despite possessing the puck for less time. It’s three games, that’s not a trend that will continue all season.

– Speaking of UMass Lowell … the River Hawks have a 40.9 percent power play right now.

– Not that anyone is worried about BU, but no one should be after the Terriers were swept in a weekend series at Denver. In fact, I’m not sure David Quinn is all that upset by it. He even joked with the media that he was sick of hearing about his team in the preseason. BU is loaded with talent, but it’s a lot of young talent. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them start the season 6-4 or 7-5, but then finish the year with just eight or nine losses. This is a team that’s going to get better as the year goes on.

– While we’re on the topic of youth, Boston College and Boston University actually have the same average age (20.1 years), which is youngest in the country. Notre Dame is third-youngest at 20.9 years. Maine is the tallest team in the country (6’-1.6”).

– What’s going on at Merrimack? The Warriors took some steps in a loss at St. Lawrence last Saturday, but the numbers look really, really bad for the Warriors. Merrimack has just two goals in three games and their possession metrics, which have always been solid, are under 50 percent. Both of Merrimack’s goals have come on the power play, but that power play is only 2 for 29. We just mentioned Providence’s PDO, and how it shows a team that should trend upwards, well Merrimack’s PDO at even strength is 87.8. That’s REALLY bad. It’s almost a statistical impossibility for Merrimack’s numbers to be as poor as they’ve been for an entire regular season. They host another winless team, Colgate, this weekend for two games and are hoping to break out of this early-season slump before Boston College rolls into North Andover on Tuesday.

– There are six players in the country who are averaging at least two points per game, and five of them come from Hockey East.

Notre Dame’s Anders Bjork looks like he’ll be a Hobey contender, while others include Mitchell Fossier (Maine), Dylan Malmquist (Notre Dame), Joe Gambardella (Lowell) and Dylan Sikura (Northeastern).

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