Inconsistent Crimson Tough To Figure Out

The Harvard men’s hockey team played two games this weekend at Bright Hockey Center. One was its best of the year. The other was its worst.

The contrast made for a great, big gray area. Is this team as good as it looked in Saturday night’s 4-1 win over archrival Yale? Or is it as bad as it looked in Friday’s 4-2 loss to Princeton, in which it took a 2-0 lead into the third period before it fell apart in truly agonizing fashion?

Hard to tell. The Crimson’s record—a blah 2-2-1—doesn’t help us figure out much, either.

So, let’s focus on what I can tell you for sure: The feel-good win over the Elis aside, Friday night’s collapse was the worst and most dumbfounding loss I have seen in four years of following this team.

Sure, there have been bigger losses: three first-round defeats in the Beanpot, two one-and-dones in the NCAA tournament and last year’s ECAC championship game, in which the Crimson missed out on a second straight title by three inches—literally.

But believe me when I say that none of them were as bad as this.

Semantics are important here, so please take note. Big loss means the game was important and the outcome was tough to take. Bad loss refers to a game that wasn’t necessarily critical at the outset but ended up that way because of how badly your team mucked it up.

This one was a very, very bad loss.

How else do you describe leading by two with 13 minutes left, then losing by two? This performance was to the fine tradition of Harvard hockey what Gigli was to cinema: mind-numbing to the viewers and embarrassing to the participants.

Yes. Bennifer bad.

This year’s seniors did something similar as freshmen, when they had a two-goal lead in the third period before Vermont scored four times to win.

But that wasn’t as shocking as what happened Friday, simply because that sort of thing is more understandable when your team is dominated by freshmen and sophomores. The same result is intolerable when a team has 17 juniors and seniors, as the Crimson does now.

With all due respect to the Tigers’ work ethic, they had no business beating Harvard. They are not the better team.

That’s not an opinion, either. Look at the facts.

The Crimson has more NHL draft picks (12) than any team in the country, and the most players in the nation to be on the roster of NCAA Tournament teams in each of the last two years (16) and last year alone (22).

In other words, that makes them both talented and experienced.

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