Y’all remember that right? Back in the day when someone excelled athletically, someone would say, “Well it looks like he ate his Wheaties today”? Is that still a valid pop culture reference?
No? Well fine. It’s still applicable for this example. With two more goals this weekend, Kevin Dufour continues to be good at hockey. So it looks like he’s been eating his Wheaties. Right away, let’s get into it.
Du-Eight: I cringed a little bit on Friday with the BG Falcon Hockey Twitter dropped a “Du-Seven” after Dufour scored. But I’m gonna do it here for the same reason they did: because I can.
Dufour now has a still NCAA-leading eight goals on the season. That’s two more than Mario Lucia (Notre Dame, Cody Wydo (Robert Morris) and Dominic Toninato (Minnesota-Duluth), who each have six goals. So that’s a pretty cool thing that he has going right now.
But let’s not overlook the chemistry he has formed with linemates Pierre-Luc Mercier and Matt Pohlkamp. That’s been a pretty big reason for his successful start.
Mercier has a goal and is tied for 15th in that nation with five assists, and finds himself tied with a pretty talented group of players. On the other side, Pohlkamp has a goal and four assists in six games, so collectively that group has combined for 10 goals and nine assists so far this year. That’s pretty strong.
Like, Dufour is on an absurd pace right now. So absurd thats it’s not even worth me saying because he’s not going to stay on it.
Really, let’s be real for a second. Not to poop on the party, Dufour is not going to continue scoring 1.33 goals per game pace this season. The good news for him is he can score two goals the rest of the year and it’ll be an improvement on last season. I’d hope he doesn’t completely stop scoring, and he shouldn’t, but that’s where he’s at right now.
The simple reason why is regression to the mean (basically, the law of averages) is a thing that exists for a reason. Right now, Dufour is shooting at 42.1 percent. Average is somewhere around 8 or 9 percent. Even the absolute elite scorers on the planet shoot significantly lower than that. Steven Stamkos’ career shooting percent is 17.1. Alex Ovechkin’s is 12.3. Of the top 30 goal scorers in the NHL last year, the highest shooting percentage was Joe Pavelski with an 18.2.
For a more applicable comparison, last year Johnny Gaudreau led college hockey with 36 goals in 40 games. He shot at 22.8 percent. So even in a seeming best-case scenario, that number will fall.
So yeah, Dufour’s pace will slow as that number corrects itself. You’d hope for the sake of his production and the success of the team (and Mercier and Pohlkamp’s goal totals) that he notches some assists while that number corrects itself. That would be, obviously, a good thing for the Falcons.
(Also, you all know I just jinxed him for talking about it. I have that effect on people).
Another thing it might do is lead to an increase of college scouting in Quebec. Kevin Gordon will note this in his profile on Dufour, and he mentioned last week that Dufour said not a lot of Quebeckers strongly look at American college hockey, so that’s a pretty vast talent pool that’s not being given much thought.
Given the success of Dufour and Mercier, along with the success Olivier Mantha has been having in net for Anchorage (1.96 goals-against average, .943 save percent), you can bet more college coaches will look to establish a pipeline into the eastern Canadian province.
Bad habits: There was a point last year where BG blew a third-period lead in something like four of five games in November and December.
Fortunately for the Falcons it didn’t quite get to that point Saturday against Clarkson, but only winning 5-4 after leading 5-1 is not a habit this team will want to get into.
Whether it was getting complacent, or just a bad series of execution — although that could just be an argument of semantics — it’s something the coaching staff probably won’t want to see again. Agains, fortunately for them Chris Nell played well.
Goalies: Speaking of which, now that each goalie has two games this year it will be interesting to see who gets the call this weekend.
If we’re laying odds right now, I’d expect to see the same sort of rotation that we’ve seen thus far until someone either starts playing poorly, or someone starts playing so well it warrants a start every weekend. That rotation, to this point, would indicate that a goalie starts two straight weekends, then is the odd man out the following weekend.
That would mean that we should see Tommy Burke and Sholl this weekend (then Sholl and Nell the weekend after, then Nell and Burke the weekend after that and so on). I don’t know that this will be how it goes, but it seems like a valid hypothesis, no?
Well it works out nicely for the Falcons this weekend. Nell has played well through two starts — even though he gave up four Saturday you could easily argue that could’ve gotten worse for BG. But for your second WCHA series, against a team that won the playoff tournament last year, having your two most experienced guys go for you seems like a good idea. But we’ll find out later this week if that’s the path Bergeron plans to take this weekend.
Injuries: If you were following along Saturday, you might have noticed that both Dan DeSalvo and Brent Tate were absent from the lineup.
DeSalvo got hit hard the night before and left the game; obviously he didn’t come back. Wasn’t really sure what happened to Tate, but given his injury history and him already having battled ailments this year, it really could be anything.
Those are two guys BG can’t afford to have out for awhile. As with above, we’ll find out later this week what their status is going forward.
This weekend: BG dives back into WCHA play this weekend with a home set against Minnesota State.
The Mavs got back on track this weekend with a sweep of Huntsville. They allowed only two goals on the weekend, so they have their defense heading in the right direction. But it always was Huntsville which hasn’t exactly set the world on fire scoring the last few years so you could probably mark that one with an asterisk. Stephon Williams started both games, so it’ll be interesting to see if Cole Huggins gets another chance to prove himself this weekend, or if the Mavs continue to roll with the “hot hand,” who, by the way, gave up four goals in the only game he’s faced more than 20 shots this season.
On another note, Saturday’s game will be the first time in like 19 months that your’s truly will have his butt planted in the press box for a game at the BGSU Ice Arena. You bet I’m excited for that.