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Takeaways: Defensive breakdowns consistent in recent stretch

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NORTH ANDOVER — Providence beat Merrimack, 6-0, on Friday night at Lawler Arena. Exclusively for TMR VIP members, Mike McMahon brings you his takeaways from Friday’s game …

  • Defensively, the game broke down much of the same way the game has broken down in recent weeks. Merrimack was soft in the defensive zone and Providence had easy paths to the net. Johnathan Kovacevic did a nice job down low, as did Matt McArdle and Ryan Cook, but there were team-wide breakdowns that allowed Providence to pressure the net for long sustained periods of time, especially in the earlier portions of the game.
  • It was hard not to feel bad for Craig Pantano, who has seen his numbers plummet in recent weeks but not through all his own fault. Four of the goals in Friday’s game felt preventable if things had been tighter in the defensive zone. Scott Borek has said in interviews that he views goaltending statistics as a team stat, and I think that’s a unique way to look at it. We think of goals-against and save percentage being only personal numbers, but they’re both predicated on where shots are coming from on the ice and what’s being blocked. Pantano (and Halladay last week) weren’t getting much help.
  • Sami Tavernier was superb in the second half of the game. In the third period, he was really heavy on the puck and was hard to defend, generating chances inside the middle of the ice.
  • August Von Ungern Sternberg looked solid in his NCAA debut. He has a lot of top-end speed but also has good acceleration and gets to full speed in only a few steps. I’d compare his game to Michael Babcock’s, only Von Ungern-Sternberg has a better stick and will produce more offensively. Very good showing for the freshman, who has been forced to miss the first 15 games after undergoing offseason surgery.
  • Maybe I’m wrong, but I thought the major on Tyler Irvine in the second period probably wasn’t a major penalty. Irvine did hit the player from behind, but he didn’t run him into the boards. The Providence player fell awkwardly in front of the bench and he needed a few moments to collect himself before he was able to get up, but it didn’t seem like a play where there was obvious intent to run the player from behind. Irvine came in gliding, searching for the puck, and gave the Providence player a little shove in the back. It’s a penalty for sure, but I thought it was a minor, and Irvine was penalized more because the Providence player lost his balance.
  • Logan Drevitch had a fine game, especially in the third period. He generated some shots but was more physical than he has been as well, laying the body behind the net a few times.
  • Cole McBride was shot out of a cannon to start the game, throwing a big check that resulted in a boarding penalty on his first shift. The coaching staff has been looking for the Warriors to play more physical, and it seemed he got the message.
  • Saturday against Northeastern, you have to expect the Warriors to be a lot more physical. The Huskies mopped the floor with Merrimack, 9-1, just one week ago. That wound is still fresh.

About Mike McMahon

Mike McMahon is in his 13th year covering Merrimack College for The Eagle Tribune and is the founder and managing editor of The Mack Report. Mike also serves on staff as a senior writer at College Hockey News. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcMahonCHN

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