Hockey East Random Thoughts (11/11)

Posted by: Mike McMahon

IT’S NOT WHO YOU’D THINK … 

Let’s take a look at some surprises around Hockey East when it comes to scoring. There are several players among team leading scorers that no one predicted back in September. First, let’s start at BU, where Patrick Harper is the leading scorer and not first-round pick Clayton Keller. At BC all the talk was Colin White and Ryan Fitzgerald, yet there are four players who top them on BC’s list. Mitchell Fossier, not touted freshman Chase Pearson, leads the scoring at Maine. UNH is being led by rookie Patrick Grasso, and not returning 50-point scorer Tyler Kelleher. Up in Vermont, sophomore Craig Puffer has almost matched his point total from all of last season, leading the Catamounts in scoring to start the year.

YOUNG GOALIES TAKE CHARGE

Hockey East’s top-five save percentages are all first-year goaltenders, with the sixth and seventh best sophomores. Jake Oettinger (.941) tops the league with UConn’s Adam Huska, Tyler Wall (Lowell), Stefanos Lekkas (UVM) and Joe Woll (BC) rounding out the list. Maine’s Rob McGovern is sixth in the league with Merrimack sophomore Drew Vogler seventh.

You won’t find the first senior until 11th, where UConn’s Rob Nichols checks in with a .906 save percentage. He’s the only senior in the top-14.

PICKING THE WEEKEND

I won’t do this every week, but every once in a while we’ll make some picks. Here’s what I have this weekend:

Boston College should roll over Arizona State on Sunday, especially being off all weekend while the Sun Devils travel to Lake Whittemore on Saturday night.

Yes, they’re on the road. Yes, they’re a young team. But Michigan isn’t as good as their 4-3 record indicates, and I think this could be a real statement weekend for the Boston University Terriers, who I think will be coming back to Comm. Ave with two wins.

UConn will do no worse than a split at Ohio State. The Buckeyes only have one loss, but aside from Denver on opening night, don’t have many impressive wins in that bunch, unless you count thumping a winless Niagara team, 10-2.

Maine plays a home-and-home with Lowell. Maine is licking their wounds after a solid start to the year; they’re 0-5-2 since. Maine is a different team in Orono (they’re 3-2 there, with one OT loss to Quinnipiac and a one-goal loss to Boston College), but Lowell is just too tough. The River Hawks sweep, but Friday’s game could be a nail-biter.

Merrimack has UMass at home and UNH on the road this weekend. The Warriors are 4-1-2 in their last seven after an 0-3 start, and that includes a tie with a BC team that’s unbeaten in their last nine games. The only loss in that stretch is to the Wildcats. Merrimack tends to have easy pickings with the Minutemen at home — UMass hasn’t won at Lawler since 2008 — and while UNH should be a tougher game, Merrimack can’t afford to lose four points to UNH, so I think they find a way to pull it out there, especially where the Warriors are off on Saturday while UNH plays and UNH also had a Tuesday game, there could be a fatigue factor. UMass comes back with a home game against Vermont on Saturday night, and I see that going for the Catamounts, who are off on Friday and likely sleeping in their hotel long before the Minutemen even return to Amherst on Friday. UNH hosts Arizona State on Saturday, where they should roll.

Northeastern welcomes Notre Dame for two games this weekend. Suddenly, the Huskies are winless in their last three with the Stevens brothers out of the lineup. The Huskies get at least one win here with a weekend split.

Providence is off this weekend, and it comes at a good time according to Nate Leaman. More on the Friars in a full-length story later.

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