Forward Line Shuffle By Quinn Has Impact in Terriers Semifinal Win
Going into the Hockey East semifinal game against, BU men’s hockey coach David Quinn decided to shuffle up the bottom three forward lines.
Not that he needed to. Aside from the top line of Jack Eichel, Danny O’Regan, and Evan Rodrigues — as good a threesome college hockey has seen in quite some time — the Terriers were getting good production from other bottom nine as well.
Since Robbie Baillargeon returned from a midseason illness centering Ahti Oksanen and Cason Hohmann, that line would’ve qualified as a No. 1 line on most teams in the nation. They had a bottom six that could put the puck in the net, providing offense at key moments.
“You’re always trying to mix and match and trying to find the right formula,” said Quinn following BU’s 4-1 win over UNH. “And even this late in the year you’re trying to do that.”
Quinn bumped A.J. Greer, who had been playing on the fourth-line for much of the season, up to the second line. Baillargeon was moved down to the third line after rotating between the second and third lines in recent games for the Terriers, who were dressing 13 forwards and five defenseman while defenseman John MacLeod was out with an injury. The sophomore, whose played primarily center in his two seasons at BU, lined up on the wing.
“I don’t know [how much an impact] the position he’s playing [has], I just know he’s playing great hockey right now,” Quinn said of Baillargeon, who has 13 points in his last 17 games. “He’s playing great hockey at the right time. I love his grit, I love the pace he’s playing at, he looks confident.”
Nick Roberto has played much of the season on the third line. He went down to the fourth line on Friday night. The junior ended up playing a key role in what ended up being the game winning goal. After Mike Moran won the battle along the wall, Roberto took the puck to the net on a wrap-around attempt. While the wrap-around was unsuccessful, Chase Phelps was home to bury the rebound with 10:07 left in the second period.
Moving up from the fourth line to the second line was A.J. Greer. The freshman took advantage of the opportunity, his impact on the game going well beyond the four shots he landed on net. Greer’s pass up the boards late in the first period set up the one-on-one battle between Cason Hohmann and UNH forward Ryan Randall that led to Hohmann drawing a boarding penalty, then leading to Hohmann’s goal on the delayed whistle.
It was just a hunch by our staff about putting A.J. up there with Cason and Ahti [Oksanen],” said Quinn, who felt Greer played his best game of the season on Friday. “I thought Robbie [Baillargeon] playing with Matt [Lane] and [Nikolas] Olsson, that could be a pretty good line.”
Quinn appeared correct in his assessments, based off the games those lines registered Friday night. The second line scored the tying goal late in the first that sent the Terriers to the locker room with the momentum. The fourth line chipped in the game-winning goal. The third line landed eight shots on net, tied with the second line for the most among the four lines.
How much an impact the shuffle had on the outcome of the game is up for debate. But the newly-formed forward lines certainly had an impact on the final score, which was 4-1 in BU’s favor.