Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Final regular-season weekend on tap for Yale

A few notes from a pre-practice media session with Yale coach Keith Allain on Wednesday afternoon. The Bulldogs play host to No. 3 Union and RPI this weekend, the last one of the regular season, with key ECAC tournament positioning and PairWise Ranking jockeying at stake. Yale seniors Jesse Root, Kenny Agostino and Gus Young will be honored prior to puck drop on Saturday night.
  • The power play went 3-for-7 last weekend, including 3-for-4 at Harvard, boosting Yale's season success rate to 18.6. Some have said the Bulldogs aren't as explosive on the power-play this season when compared to recent Yale teams. Fact is, in ECAC conference games, Yale is second only to St. Lawrence at 21.6 percent. Allain said extensive practice has helped. "It takes time to get it together, particularly early in te year, it's a small sample statistically. You go a couple games without scoring and it looks anemic; you go a couple games with them scoring and it looks prolific. In reality, if you can get to 20 percent area you've got a pretty good college power play."
  • Jesse Root and Kenny Agostino have been Yale's most consistent and productive scorers, both nearly doubling the point total of the third-highest scoring forward. Allain isn't concerned with the disparity given the circumstances. "We'll be a better team when we can get more 5-on-5 offense from the rest of the group," he said. "I still think that's there. There's no reason to me why Stu's line won't produce more going forward, and the other lines as well. With the injury situation we've had, the stability has been with Jesse's line so the other guys pay a price when we start shuffling things around."
  • As for the injury situation, Yale may get forward Carson Cooper back this weekend. "I can't say that definitively today," Allain said. 
  • Union has looked every bit like a national championship contender. The Dutchmen are 6-0-1 in their last seven, scoring at least four goals in each of those games, and quite stingy on the defensive side. "What impresses me is their team game," Allain said. "They're all on the same page and work together as groups. They are a great second-effort team. You're going to have to outwork them. And they back-pressure well into defensemen in the neutral zone and then transition extremely well off of those turnovers. We're going to have to protect the puck."
  • Yale is in contention for a first-round bye, but needs to make up two points on fourth-place Cornell. Allain would prefer to have next weekend off, citing 2012 as an example of why rest at this time of year is good. Yale needed three games to get past Princeton that year, then went to Harvard where it won game 1 in overtime and then lost in double overtime in Game 2. By Game 3, Yale was gassed while Harvard, rested, cruised to an 8-2 victory.
  • Governor Dan Malloy will be at Ingalls on Friday night. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will not. Too bad.
  • The past few weeks, Yale has spent considerable time working on team defense, one of the main area's Allain would like to see improvement. "And sorting things out on the rush, coming back into our zone and back-checking into that D-zone coverage," he said. "We'll continue to spend a lot of time on that as we get into the playoffs." 


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