If all top seeds had won last weekend, Boston College would have a tough semifinals date with the Maine Black Bears tonight. A funny thing happened on the way to the TD Garden, however: The #2 seed UMass-Lowell River Hawks lost to #7 seed Providence in the quarterfinals, meaning the Eagles draw the Friars. This is particularly good news as BC is just two wins away from defending its Hockey East crown.
In the playoffs, one does not want to take any opponent lightly, and the fact that Providence made it to this game suggests that they had to have played much better than when BC last saw them, but it is still a fortunate turn of events.
One part of why is that the Eagles haven’t lost to the Friars in a long time. Boston College has won eleven games in a row against Providence, and thanks to a 13-0-2 record have not last any of their last fifteen meetings. In case you’re wondering how long it’s been since the Friars beat BC, it’s been a little over four years.
Another part is how hot Boston College has been in general. The Eagles ride into this Hockey East semifinal on a thirteen-game win streak, as they have not lost in almost two months since getting swept at Maine. Providence accounted for two of those 13 wins, with the Eagles shutting them out 3-0 and 7-0 over their weekend home-and-home series in late February.
As a matter of fact, if Boston College wins tonight for their fourteenth victory in a row, it would be the longest winning streak Jerry York has had as the Eagles’ coach.
For some insight into why BC is doing so well lately, start with the goalie, Parker Milner. He has been in-net for all thirteen of BC’s consecutive wins and has done an exceptional job. This team-wide hot streak has also given rise to a personal hot streak for Milner, who has improved his numbers to the point where he’s got the fifth-best GAA in Division I college hockey at 1.8396. His save percentage is also quite good, sitting at .928 — tied for eighth-best in the nation and only a few ticks behind UML’s Doug Carr for best in Hockey East.
It’s not just goaltending, though: #1 Boston College has also established itself as an offensive threat. BC’s scoring is tied for fifth-best in college hockey with 3.50 goals per game, and there’s a long list of characters responsible: Chris Kreider, Bill Arnold, John Gaudreau, Paul Carey, Barry Almeida, so on and so forth.
As for Providence, the numbers on either front aren’t very settling (from their perspective, that is). The Friars average about 2.5 goals per game, but they give up 3.2. Goalie Alex Beaudry allows approximately three goals per game, a far cry from Milner’s sub-2 GAA. Furthermore, his save percentage is at .896, which is well down the list nationally and third from the bottom in Hockey East.
One could approach this game by saying “be careful what you wish for” in drawing Providence, since there are no guarantees in playoff hockey, but BC fans should feel good about the matchup given BC’s recent overall dominance and their particular dominance over the Friars for the last four years. It’s always possible to lose, but while we fans might take the Friars lightly, Jerry York and his boys will not.
The puck drops at approximately 5pm Eastern; it will be carried on NESN locally and NBC Sports Network nationally.