A 22-game Hockey East schedule can be quite the grind, but for Boston University, the next three carry an added significance. A home-and-home series against preseason favorite Providence before a trek down Commonwealth Ave. to archrival Boston College will give a good indication of where this team is at. These next three games could also signify the last time the Terriers will be underdogs in regular season conference play this season.
Think about that for a minute. BU, picked third by the media in the preseason and looking to be right in that range, will have played three of its four games against teams picked higher and the only remaining game will be a home contest against BC. All that with 18 of the 22 conference games remaining after this three game stretch.
So not only will this stretch be a good indication of where BU is at, but if it passes the test, the Terriers will have run through the toughest portion of their schedule.
Not jumping ahead past this weekend, BU will face a Providence team riddled with injuries to key players such as Mark Jankowski and Tom Parisi. John Gilmour (injury) and Kyle McKenzie (suspension) just returned to the lineup against North Dakota. Jon Gillies isn't performing up to his lofty standards between the pipes. The defense has been abysmal in four tough nonconference road games.
BU's strength is certainly in its ability to create offense with special players such as Jack Eichel. Over this weekend's two games against a depleted Friars team, the Terriers could wear down their opposition's defense.
David Quinn's team showed it was for real with two nice wins over Michigan State and Michigan in the Big Ten/Hockey East Challenge last weekend, but the real test comes over the next three games.
Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.