Who: #14 Michigan at #12 Boston University
Where: Agganis Arena, Boston
About Boston University
Last season the Terriers made the transition from Jack Parker to David Quinn with less than ideal results, but Quinn quickly made his mark on college hockey as an excellent recruiter and has BU poised to rejoin the ranks of the college hockey elite.
The Wolverines put on a show last night in Lowell; the River Hawks had no answer with seemingly every shot sent on net from Zach Hyman, Alex Kile or Dylan Larkin finding twine. As a forward unit all 12 players had a great night and played like we all know they can. Tonight they face a stiffer test at BU against a group of talented, mobile puck moving defensemen.
The Terriers blueline will be the most talented unit the Wolverines have faced this year, led by star defensemen Matt Grzelcyk and freshman phenoms John MacLeod and Brandon Fortunato. Matt O'Connor handles netminding duties with mixed results, but when he's on his game O'Connor is as good as any goalie around.
The Wolverines offensive efforts will start with forechecking, getting pucks deep and controlling the tempo. Like New Hampshire, Boston University is not the team the Wolverines want to get into a firewagon game against, there's too much talent on the BU roster to play three periods of transition hockey. Michigan did an outstanding job winning the possession battle against Lowell and they'll need to do the same tonight.
It's never a good thing allowing four goals in a game, but I thought Michigan's blueline played well last night. Outside of a few miscues that Lowell took advantage of, they were excellent in the neutral zone denying the River Hawks easy zone entries and tough down in their own end in front of Racine. Those miscues will have to tighten up tonight but overall things seem to be improving for Michigan's blueline.
For good reason Jack Eichel gets all of the attention, he's a superstar and future 1-2 overall pick in next year's draft and the Wolverines will have to hope they can limit the damage done. The Eichel spotlight also overshadows a group of talented players in their own right, including fellow freshman stars JJ Piccinich and AJ Greer. Ahti Oksanen, Robbie Baillargeon and Danny O'Regan also return to give the Terriers a lethal and dynamic scoring presence.
I don't expect Michigan to score 8 goals tonight, but they shouldn't have to do that. Michigan State did a great job last night containing the potent BU offense; blocking shots, limiting mistakes and slowing the tempo down. If Michigan can follow that blueprint they can head home with another win.