Weekend Sweep Leaves Huskies Reeling
After starting the season 2-0, Northeastern has taken just 1 point from the following 3 weekends. And of that 0-4-1 stretch, this weekend was the most disappointing. Merrimack is a team that the Huskies should be beating. They are a stronger team on paper and they had already beaten them once this year.
But this weekend, Northeastern made just about every mistake in the book and let 4 crucial league points go to a team that they will likely be competing with for one of the final playoff spots in March. Last weekend yielded just 1 point, but there were encouraging signs. This weekend was an out-and-out disaster.
Lets start with the biggest problem: the offense. The lines change every night but the results stay the same. It’s not the combinations that are holding this team back from reaching its potential. It’s that everyone seems to have a pass first mentality, outside of a few guys. Shots come too slow and too late. This team will continue to average 2 goals a game until they start pouring shots on net instead of looking to make the perfect pass. Unless the rules have changed recently, dirty goals count just as much as the pretty ones. The freshman have been a bright spot, but the upperclassmen need to take over.
The defense has been better than expected, but that isn’t saying much considering how little was expected of them. That 6th spot has been troubling. Ben Oskroba and Dan Cornell both have some good qualities, but both have been a bit too mistake-prone to count on this year. Drew Ellement and Josh Manson have both stepped into bigger roles this year and they are the closest thing this team has to shut down defenseman. They aren’t there yet, but they can get there before the year ends. Dustin Darou has really looked good since coming back into the lineup after a minor injury. Once again, he was one of the best players on the ice for NU on Saturday.
Unfortunately just being ok isn’t good enough for this defense because all of a sudden Northeastern has no goalie. Rawlings just hasn’t developed since he got here. There are good moments, but there also soft goals and just simple positional flaws that are unlikely to ever be fixed. Rawlings is a decent goalie. No more, no less. Bryan Mountain is very good positionally, but he lacks size and experience. It’d be a great story if he could emerge as the number #1 guy, but even then how good will he be? Clay Witt was supposed to back after a few weeks, but there hasn’t been much chatter on that front. Derick Roy may get his chance this weekend, unless they plan on redshirting him. Its a mess and it is extremely unlikely this spot becomes the backbone of this team like it was expected to be.
The coaching staff is not without blame, either. If you want to bench Pimm for taking a dumb penalty on Friday, that’s fine. But just put him in the stands next time. Benching him, Ferriero, and Manno for the entire first period was just stupid. It meant another whole new set of lines and it also meant playing with a short bench for a full period. The team could have used the energy as they once again faltered in the late stages of the game. It is extremely concerning that through 7 games, this team has no second period goals and just 3 third period ones (an empty netter, a fluke shot from the neutral zone, and a PP goal to cut the deficit to 2 with 6 minutes left). Is someone forgetting to bring the orange slices in between periods?
This weekend was terrible and it will go down as huge wasted oppurtunity. This season’s script is now going an awful lot like the games have been going: quick start and then it all fails apart. Luckily, the Huskies now get a weekend away from conference actions. They should win both games easily next weekend, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is them working on fixing the issues that plague this program year after year and game and after game. This team is far too talented to miss the playoffs again, but dropping 4 points to teams like Merrimack will pretty much guarantee they do.