Team of the Week: Boston University
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
Boston University's enigmatic seasons the last few years has often been considered part of a master plan.
Coach Jack Parker, with over 750 career wins under his belt, has been known to tear teams down, tinker with them, and them build them to a crescendo just in time for the Beanpot and postseason run. The fact that this hasn't resulted in a Frozen Four since 1997 doesn't necessarily mean the plan isn't working. Like many Eastern schools, BU has suffered from a dropoff in the ability to recruit the highest-end talent.
But maybe it's not really a master plan.
"For some reason it takes BU teams a while to get going and understand how to play in a system for a full 60 minutes," said junior Peter MacArthur, whose big weekend contributed to BU's two-game sweep of Maine, making the Terriers this week's CHN Team of the Week. "(Parker) plays in a more conservative system than many are used to. And once we buy into that, things are good.
"It's always being aware of your defensive responsibility, no matter what zone. It's not cheating on the offensive side. You want to be on the defensive side to force others to turn it over. We have to get it in our heads that it will work."
When it doesn't work, Parker isn't afraid to let his feelings known in the media. His candor is well established, but it's probably not something a less legendary coach could pull off with today's players.
"He's probably more harsh behind closed doors," MacArthur said. "He has his own special way to get a point across. At the time, you say, 'I hate this.' But you get back and sit in your dorm, and you think, 'Dammit, he was right.'
"(You don't mind because) not a lot of coaches have won over 750 games.
"Sometimes we don't even understand what he's saying, but we know he's mad. He says so many different things, I can't even remember. You're just scratching your head."
The result of not immediately "getting" the system, often, is haphazard play. Fits and starts, where one minute the Terriers can look brilliant, and the next minute they look dreadful.
When the level of raw talent dropped off considerably a few years ago, scoring goals became a major problem, and the drawback to the whole method-behind-the-madness was exaggerated. But that talent level is coming back, and when things are going right, the Terriers can score plenty of goals.
"We have (Ken) Roche, (Chris) Higgins, (Bryan) Ewing ... people think that we can't score goals," MacArthur said. "But sometimes when you get in a shootout, you're not as sure to win the game as when you score 3-4 and have (John) Curry in goal."
MacArthur has been admittedly streaky himself. Reunited with Brandon Yip and Higgins this past weekend, however, he contributed a hat trick.
"I seem to be streaky scorer, but in my third year, I can say I'm a better all-around player than my first year," MacArthur said. "I'm on the same pace scoring as last year.
"I'm more focused and more aware in our own zone of where defensive responsibilities and coverage are. I think I was minus-1 freshman year, a plus-7 and a plus-20-something last year."
MacArthur only played with Yip in three games last year, but they combined for five goals in those games. He said the two seem to fit easily, even when just thrown together.
It was supposed to be different, though. MacArthur was part of a talent renaissance on Commonwealth Avenue, along with classmates that included Chris Bourque. That duo combined to light up the eyes of Terriers fans two seasons ago. But Bourque took a quick exit out of college, and now plays in the AHL.
"I just saw him play in Albany. He had two points and a plus-4, so I don't think it was too bad a decision," MacArthur said. "I would've liked to play with him a little longer, sure, but ..."
It hasn't stopped MacArthur's progress this year, though, as he and his teammates have picked it up, by evidence of their two-game sweep at Orono this past weekend, 6-5 and 3-0. It was a big lift for a up-and-down team that really needed a huge weekend like that, just for its psyche if nothing else.
"We needed it extremely badly," MacArthur said. "We haven't had a big win agaist real good team.
"(Parker) definitely played it up. Any time you play Maine in their barn, everyone knows what's at stake. Their place is a real hard place to play, and we knew we needed two wins badly to get in place for home ice.
"Now we have to forget about it and get ready for Merrimack."
Whether this leads to big things, remains to be seen. This was the time last year when BU went on a huge roll, only to fall one win short of the Frozen Four. Anything short of that is a disappointment this year, but because of the rocky start, it's been hard to think that way.
"At the beginning of the year, the goal is always to play on the final weekend," MacArthur said. "But the way things have been going, we have to focus on one game at a time."