I'll start with this picture.
Northeastern 5, University of Massachusetts - Lowell 6 (OT)
Northeastern 1, University of Massachusetts 4
Northeastern used to be a fun team. I'm not talking about last year, when they were actually good, but the three years before that, when the team was mediocre to godawful. The games were usually pretty close, but the physicality and passion sometimes made up for the losing. The real fights at the end of games, the running of goalies, the jawing at opposing coaches...those were the things that the Huskies were good at, even as they were losing hockey games.
That's gone. It's been replaced with boring, predictable hockey and a complete lack of team cohesion. I don't place much stock in "leadership," because winning teams never have leadership problems despite (sometimes) obviously poor leadership. Intangibles are intangible because they have negligible impact as compared to injuries or player skill, so blaming a collapse on lack of leadership or lack of identity or any of that crap is poor analysis.
Teams lose because of poor execution. Whether that manifests as awful passing, stupid penalties, fanned shots, or a combination of the above and more, is irrelevant. Northeastern is not executing their game plan, and they are losing to good and bad opponents alike.
The game against UML was nearly an inspiring win, with the Huskies coming from three down to tie the game at 5-5 and send it into overtime. But a goal from former Husky recruit Mike Scheu iced the game for the Riverhawks with just over 25 seconds remaining. Chris Rawlings looked awful, but wasn't helped by a porous defense and a steady stream of turnovers directly in front of him. The team played poorly, but at least they showed up.
Tonight, of course, was a different story. With former Kings coach and current ESPN hockey analyst Barry Melrose* doing the color for ESPNU, the Huskies decided that they weren't even going to bother playing hockey. Let's look at shot totals:
1st period: 3
2nd period: 4
3rd period: 6
Number of players with more than one shot: 1 (Vermeersch, 3)
Number of forwards with zero shots: 4 (J. Daniels, D. Daniels, Costa, Tuckerman)
A game total of 13 shots means something has gone hideously wrong. I've been relatively easy on Cronin after his yearly improvements from my freshman year 3-win season, but if there's one thing to point to as a fault, it's his lack of ability to properly generate offense. He has admitted to being, primarily, a defensive coach, but shot totals of 13 reinforce the need to come up with a consistent offensive strategy. Every power play results in the loss of the puck before a shot, forwards routinely carry the puck into the zone only to pass it to an opponent behind the net, and Northeastern seems incapable of running the same backdoor play which so frequently nets goals for the opposition.
Something has to change.
*A Doghouse member shouted "Hey Barry, see you never!" at the end of the game. That game must have been torturous for his mullet.