On this date last season, something was happening to Boston College men’s hockey. It was called a building sense of certainty, and BC hit the motherlode from the Beanpot onwards. Every day they took to the ice, the Eagles were destined to win, and there was little debate about the outcome.
If only every season could be so easy.
The 2012-13 season for the defending national champions has not been as neat and there are no 19-game win streaks in sight. Still, many of the same players from that victorious team are still hanging around Kelley Rink, and a few that were not expected to participate, such as the injured Patch Alber, will be getting this team back to full strength just as conference tournaments begin.
We can already tell that this is not going to be easy, but as a matter of perspective, pretty much any season you can put together will pale in comparison to the sheer dominance Boston College hockey demonstrated in the last two months of the season. With that said, is there reason to think that this particular “trophy season” will mean good things for the Eagles? There is a case to be made for both sides.
On the positive end, nobody in the college hockey world has lost sight of the fact that BC are the defending national champions. There is no team at this level that is as seasoned as the Eagles, as only the freshmen have not been part of a championship team, and some of the upperclassmen have won it all twice. Those who are seniors have two national titles and have never lost a Hockey East Tournament game in three prior attempts, and this is no easy conference to conquer.
If there is any team more accustomed to winning in the recent term than Boston College, then that would be news. The Eagles know more about victory and trophies in the last few seasons than anybody else, and they can ostensibly find another gear because they’ve done it before. That is no guarantee that they will, but if the question is whether or not they can, then absolutely yes.
Meanwhile, on the negative side, winning a Hockey East Tournament and then a national tournament requires a win streak. The plain fact of the matter is that Boston College’s wins in the last few months have mostly been isolated. In early February, BC won three games in a row and have not been victorious in consecutive games since. Before that, it had been late November since the last time the Eagles accomplished that feat. To win the NCAA Tournament, you would be asking the Eagles to win four in a row against some of the country’s best teams, and it would take a few more to get through the conference tournament with a trophy.
For whatever reason, this Boston College team has not been able to string wins together on a consistent basis since the winter break. The overall record is very good, but this outside of the Hockey East quarterfinals, these are single-elimination tournaments. Win-one-lose-one is not going to work anymore, and that has been an issue.
Will Alber’s return help? Most likely yes. Will Johnny Gaudreau’s big final weekend help propel him into the tournaments? It’s distinctly possible. Whatever the case may be, the Eagles have had trouble going on win streaks, and the cautious course is not necessarily to say BC is or will get hot at the right time. They’ve been more unpredictable this time around and we already know they will not win the full compliment of trophies.
This Boston College hockey team is capable of winning another national championship; they have both the personnel and coach to do it and that is of little doubt. What is in question is if they can sustain the winning, and right now, that looks like a shaky proposition given what they’ve done to this point.