By: Dan Shulman
This past Saturday, the BU Men’s Ice Hockey Team lost its season opening game to Union, 5-3. It marked the first time since the start of the 2009-10 season that the Terriers dropped the season opener. Despite first career goals from Ryan Cloonan and Charlie McAvoy, the effort was not enough.
Here are three major takeaways from the game.
- Defensive/Conditioning Letdown
The Terrier defense was one of the supposed bright spots for BU this season. However, allowing five goals against Union, albeit an offensive team, is not any way to open the season. The main problem was a shakeup of defensive pairings. Without Grzelcyk in the lineup for a while, the blue liners are going to have to find some way to pick up the slack.
Another big letdown was conditioning. The very method to BU’s success last season, the Terriers were hard to beat, especially in the third period. However, Union scored three times in the final twenty minutes on a very lackadaisical BU squad. It was difficult for BU to get the puck up ice at points in the third. Two strong points for the Terriers last year turned out to be haunting in the 2015-16 opener
- Radically different offense without Eichel
The offense is missing its top scorers from last season. Until a new ace emerges, life without Jack Eichel will be tough. The team is much more balanced, however, with all four lines seeming dangerous as opposed to just the top two lines. The team has transformed from a speed team to a physical one. While goals will be harder to come by this year, the physical presence looks good enough to propel this team. One downside is that games will be a lot closer and the adapting period will be tough, but the fruits in the end should be promising.
- Goaltending doubts still linger
Connor LaCouvee started the exhibition game against Acadia and was shaky at best. While Sean Maguire looked good in net against the Canadian powerhouse, he struggled immensely against Union. The first goal conceded was on the power play, but the rest were even strength goals. Whether it’s the defense or the goalie, opposing offenses must be shut down. And with no frontrunner for starting goalie emerging, the doubt over who is number one will linger for quite some time.