Frozen Four 2014: Shipping Out from Boston College

Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

The BC Eagles fly into the Frozen Four on the backs of a trio of forwards that might be college hockey's best line ever.

Perhaps you've heard of Johnny Gaudreau. He's scored something like a thousand goals, beating both Wayne Gretzky's and Michael Jordan's college career totals. He's going to win the Hobey Baker because stats stats stats and stats. If his +/- was his point total, he would be the #4 scorer in the country. He averages almost two points per game. In case you're wondering, that's ridiculous.

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His only downside might be this: per USCHO.com, he is 5'7" and 150 pounds (this might be the only reason he returns for his senior year). He reminds me of Brian Bonin. He'll likely win the Hobey Baker, but it remains to be seen if his pro career will take off.

Here's the problem with BC: they also have a senior named Kevin Hayes who has 63 points, including 27 goals and thirty something passes to Gaudreau. In another year, Hayes would probably win the Hobey Baker. But this is not another year, and he won't win it. In fact, he was inexplicably left out the Hobey "Hat Trick" just like Adam Wilcox.

Rounding out the outrageously talented BC first line is senior Bill Arnold, who has 14 goals and 38 passes to Hayes and Gaurdreau. He is number six on the national scoring list. That's a pretty good first line. The question becomes, what about the rest of the team?

The Eagles feature three more forwards with more than ten goals on the season: Patrick Brown, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Austin Cangelosi. After that, the scoring drops off a bit, but as a team BC scores more than four goals per game, best in the nation.

Their puck possession stats are nothing spectacular (about 53% best guess), but they obviously convert their chances very well. There's also some concern about their depth at forward. The first forward line skates for 25-plus minutes per game. That number would be outrageous if we were talking about a defensive pairing.

With scoring talent like they have, the Eagles don't need to be great on the defensive side to be a very tough team to beat. Since they're not a great possession team, they've had to rely heavily on their defensemen and goaltender Thatcher Demko to keep the puck out of the net. Demko solidified his position as the starter down the stretch, and he's earned it. He posted an solid save percentage of .920 and only allows 2.16 goals against per game. He'll have to be on top of his game for BC to win the Frozen Four.

With the exception of senior Isaac McLeod, the Eagles are a young team on the blue line. Mcleod is the only upperclassman. He's also the only defender without a goal this season. It will be interesting to see how the young defensive corps stacks up against the Union Dutchmen team that averages 3.7 goals per game. If there's a place where this team is vulnerable, I suspect it's in their own defensive zone.

If Gaudreau, Hayes, and Arnold are on, BC is borderline unstoppable. Their biggest obstacle is this: the other three teams in this Frozen Four play very good defense or have very good goaltending or both. If a team finds a way to shut down the premier line in college hockey, this is a very beatable BC team. As Minnesota proved early in the year, and Notre Dame confirmed late in the season, defense is key.

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