Boston College Eagles hockey, the defending national champions, have in the past been quite proficient at engineering the so-called “four-point weekends.” In them, the Eagles would face one or two Hockey East opponents in two weekend games and win both, earning four points in the conference standings to count towards their ultimate goal.
The last time BC had a four-point weekend in Hockey East play was in early November, about four months ago.
Another chance went by the wayside this past weekend when BC split a home-and-home series with Providence; the Eagles managed to win a big game in Rhode Island, then collapsed on Saturday afternoon at Conte Forum to only claim two points out of a possible four. In a crowded and difficult race for the top seed in the Hockey East Tournament, all of which will be decided very shortly, it was another missed opportunity for the Eagles. BC is now two points behind and will likely not repeat as regular-season champions.
As a matter of fact, something has felt amiss here for some time. Boston College has had its share of injuries lately, but every time does experience some adversity. Last year’s championship club faced a crushing slump mid-season and pulled their heads from their rears with enough time to get hot and ride the wave all the way to another trophy. This year, the wave hasn’t come.
Anything can happen once you’re in postseason play, but in recent years, BC has done exceptionally well in the lead-up to those crucial games. That cannot be said of this team.
Whether because of players present or not, it is time now that we Boston College fans admit, if we haven’t already, that this team is simply not as good or as fortunate as last year’s team. That isn’t a crime, and neither is this: barring a miraculous run from out of nowhere, there is probably not going to be another parade and banner-unveiling at BC this April.
We have become spoiled by winning to some extent because we expect Boston College to win and to simply turn on the proverbial jets in February and March. It’s already March and if you see the Eagles getting hot at the right time, then you’re probably watching replays of last year. For whatever reason, keeping in mind that a few key players are missing, this team doesn’t have that “it” factor.
Johnny Gaudreau powers a lot of this offense, and he spent quite a bit of the season being a fan favorite for the Hobey Baker Award (which is essentially the Heisman of college hockey), but now? His 39 points still leads Hockey East, but he’s slipped to 11th nationally and is nowhere near the lead in goals (Gaudreau 15; Greg Carey of St. Lawrence 26). In fact, Gaudreau hasn’t scored a goal since February 11, going six straight games without one. Since he came back from the World Juniors, Gaudreau has only four goals in 15 games, and he has not scored a power play goal since November 30. That is both significant and disturbing from a BC perspective. Gaudreau isn’t having a bad season by any means, but he has disappeared lately.
The problem is that few guys have been able to pick up the slack. Steven Whitney leads the team in goals, but he got hurt. Gaudreau, Pat Mullane, and Bill Arnold are the only other players in double-digits in that column, but there’s no Chris Kreider to bang home 20-something more goals and there’s no Brian Dumoulin lending a hand on BC’s depleted defense. It is fair to say that there are some missing pieces in 2013 and what the Eagles have now is still very talented but is not getting the same results.
Repeating as a national champion is hard. Boston College hasn’t even done it, though they’ve got the every-other-year thing going. Right now, with the postseason straight ahead, it is clear that BC is neither the best nor the hottest team in college hockey right now, and that repeat will be a much bigger challenge than expected when the year began.