Monday, November 8, 2021

Thoughts and Observations from Quinnipiac's ECAC opening weekend

Ethan de Jong had a goal this weekend in a win against Yale

It was the opening weekend of ECAC play for Quinnipiac and the Bobcats got off to the start they were expected to in conference play. They took care of business against both Yale and Brown shutting them both out on consecutive nights. Getting off to a good start in conference play is always a must as you never want to be playing catch up. Quinnipiac will now dive into non conference play with two home games against Arizona State this weekend. Here are my thoughts and observations from the opening weekend in ECAC play.

- We are almost a third of the way through this season and you can tell what the identity of the Bobcats is already. They are a defense oriented team first. When the Bobcats defense is on and playing its game it is going to be difficult to beat them because they essentially smother opponents into submission. This past weekend they gave up 24 shots total in two games. Its rare to see a team consistently give up so few shots but the Bobcats are one of those teams that just a fundamentally a great defensive team. Just ten games into this season and Quinnipiac already has four shutouts. Very impressive what they are doing on the back end. 

- For a team that is 7-1-2 you would think there wouldn't be any concerns but to me they are just struggling offensively right now. Quinnipiac has scored just eight goals in the past four games and none of these teams were world beaters either. That is just very concerning especially with the talent they have up front. This past weekend alone saw 72 Quinnipiac shots on goal and just four goals. And one of the goal was an empty net variety by TJ Friedmann in the Yale game. The offense has to improve if this team is going to be able to go toe to toe with some of the high powered offenses this year. 

- Sophomore Nick Bochen hasn't seen a ton of game action this year and a lot of that is due to the depth on the back end. He played in both games this weekend and scored the lone goal in a 1-0 win over Brown on Saturday. Bochen is a player who flashed last season especially on the power play. His goal on Saturday came on the power play. I wonder if Rand Pecknold will start to play Bochen more especially with the massive struggles on the Bobcats power play to the start of this season.

- Yaniv Perets saw back to back games for the second time this year and was rewarded with two shutouts on the weekend. His performance earned him ECAC goaltender of the week. He made 24 saves in two games this weekend but he was rarely challenged and didn't have to face an onslaught of shots because of his defense in front of him. Its kind of hard to get a read on his performance and Dylan St. Cyr's for that matter because the defense in front of them has been so good. 

- The power play struggles have continued and don't seem to get any better. It's same cycling of the puck that hasn't produced many results always looking for the one timer from the side. Can they get some traffic in front of the net and just fire on pucks and get some redirects? Both Ty Smilanic and Skyler Brind'Amour are big players who should be in front of the net to create space. They need to put more pucks on the net instead of always looking for that bomb from the side. 

- One thing I am concerned with almost a third of the way through the season is that while Quinnipiac is 7-1-2, ranked 5th and has beaten teams such as North Dakota, they are only 15th in the pairwise rankings. Its not a great spot to be in even though there is a ton of season left. One reason I am concerned is Quinnipiac hasn't played a great schedule to begin the season outside of Boston College and North Dakota and even Boston College has struggled so far. Looking ahead they really don't have any quality non conference games left as Arizona State is a mid tier team while Long Island is a bottom feeder and they are playing two games against them. They possibly could get a game with Connecticut should they meet in the Connecticut Ice Final. Coupled with the fact that the ECAC looks kind of weak this season gives me some concern. I don't think Quinnipiac can slip up many times remaining if at all because of where they are currently in the pairwise.

- This weekends series against Arizona State is a very important one. It is tough say to how good the Sun Devils are but they have a lot of talent especially offensively and a roster with six NHL draft picks. The last time these two teams played was the 2019-2020 season in which the Bobcats were swept out in the desert. 

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