Archive | January, 2012

Hockey East Recap: 1/30

January 30, 2012

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Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca

Those looking for clarity in the Hockey East playoff picture found everything but this weekend.  There were 4 series this weekend and all 4 ended in sweeps.

  • Northeastern took care of business and got all 4 points on the road against Vermont in a must win series.
  • Maine put themselves firmly into the title race by taking both games from BU at Agganis.  Not only did the Terriers lose both games, but they also suffered some big injuries that will test their depth in the coming weeks.
  • Elsewhere, BC got back to winning ways as they swept UNH in a home and home.
  • And finally, Lowell kept the pressure on the top of the league by sweeping UMass Amherst, giving them  a season sweep of their rivals.
  • Then on Sunday, Merrimack took care of PC at home to keep themselves in the race.

So now its the final stretch of the Hockey East race, but not much has been decided yet.  Here is a very in-depth mathematical breakdown of the Hockey East race.  That thread is constantly updated and probably one you want to keep an eye on.  But here is a simpler breakdown of the standings.

Title Contenders/Home Ice

Boston University: 25 Points; 8 games: @MC, UMA, @UML, UML, @UVM, @UVM, NU, @NU    (TB over BC)

Boston College: 25 Points; 7 games: @UVM, MC, @MC, @PC, PC, UVM, UVM     (TB over UML)

Maine: 24 Points; 7 games: @PC, @UML, UMA, UMA, @NU, @NU, UNH  (TB over BC, BU)

Merrimack: 23 points; 10 games: BU, @UMA, @UML, UNH, @BC, BC, UML, @UML, @UMA, UMA  (TB over ME)

Lowell: 22 points; 10 games: UVM, UVM, MC, ME, BU, @BU, @MC, MC, @PC, PC  (TB over UML)

A week ago everyone wanted to crown BU, but then Maine came in and reopened the argument.   These 5 are the only ones with a shot at the title and barring a miracle, the only 5 with a shot at home ice.   BC probably has the easiest schedule, but Merrimack and Lowell both have the benefit of having multiple games in hand on everyone else.   The BU/Lowell series in a couple weeks will be a big one.  As will the BC/Merrimack one.  Both of those series are 3 weeks from now.  We probably won’t know a ton until after that weekend.  Unless one of these teams really fall off, the battle for home ice is going to come right down to the wire.  This is Hockey East we are talking about so in all likelihood, the battle for the title and for home ice aren’t going to be decided until the final weekend.

The Final Three Spots

Providence: 17 points; 10 games: @UNH, UNH, ME, @UMA, @NU, @NU, BC, @BC, UML, @UML

Amherst: 14 points; 10 games: @NU, MC, @BU, PC, @ME, @ME, UNH, UNH, MC, @MC

Northeastern: 14 points; 8 games: UMA, @UNH, PC, PC, ME, ME, @BU, BU

New Hampshire: 13 points; 9 games: PC, @PC, NU, @MC, UVM, UVM, @UMA, @UMA, ME

4 teams for 3 spots.   PC and UMass have the advantage with the most games left to be played.   New Hampshire gets to face everyone they are chasing which means they basically control their own destiny.  And NU gets the benefit of having plenty of home games, though their schedule is a bit challenging.  The biggest thing to note is that none of the tiebreakers have been decided between these teams, so when they face it each other head to head, both valuable points and as well as the potentially crucial tiebreaker will be on the line.     Another interesting note is that they all play each other in the next couple weeks but finish with teams from the top half.   So there will most likely be a lot of scoreboard watching during that final weekend.  This weekend is huge as NU and Amherst faceoff in a game that could give Amherst the tiebreaker.  UNH/PC play a home and home and if PC can get 3 points, they will be very close to assuring themselves a playoff spot.

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So Hockey East is a mess, just like always.  And every time it looks like the picture is clearing up, you can be sure someone is going to do something unexpected and make it even cloudier.   Its should be a great final month though.

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3 Stars of the Week: 1/30

January 30, 2012

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1st Star

Cody Ferriero, F, 2 GP, 4-1-5, +3

Hard to argue with this one.  Hat trick on Friday night and an empty netter to seal it on Saturday.   The hat trick is the first for a Husky since Ryan Ginand pull on off against PC in 2009.  The goals were his first since December 2nd at Notre Dame and he now has 9 goals on the season which is tied for the team lead.  The Massachusetts native has much huge strides on the ice in his second collegiate season.  In 34 games last season, Ferriero had 7 points.  This season, he has 15 points in 17 games.   But he has now missed 7 games (30% of the season) because he cannot get his act together off the ice.    He is a very talented player and weekends like this show how much he means to this team.   Hopefully he can stay on the ice and keep this performance up.   It will be interesting to see how he fares without his linemate if Quailer does miss any time.

2nd Star

Mike McLaughlin, F, 2 GP, 1-3-4, +2

The Captain had a huge weekend.   On Friday night, he scored a rare Power Play goal for the Huskies.  On Saturday, he chipped in with assists on 3 out of the 4 goals.   Some people have questioned his leadership as he doesn’t appear to be a very vocal and in-your-face kind of guy.   But that’s ok, because he leads by example on the ice.   No one can question his commitment.   He is a great penalty killer, reliable on faceoffs (58% on the weekend) and he doesn’t take shifts off.   He is not a guy who lights up the stat sheet, but he is someone you want on your team because he does the dirty work.  This was probably his best weekend of the season.

3rd Star

Ludwig Karlsson, F, 2 GP, 1-2-3, +3

Karlsson continues to state his case for Best Freshman in the conference.  He just continues to put up points week in and week out.   Going into the season, I don’t think there was anybody who expected that a freshman would be tied for the team lead in goals and in points this late in the season.    The decommits hurt this recruiting class, that is obvious.  But Karlsson is turning out to be a real gem and he has made everyone forget about John Gaudreau.   Karlsson is just a great hockey player.   Karlsson already has 22 points and he may be able to match Jason Guerriero’s mark of 35 in his freshman year of 2001 if he keeps up his pace.   Playing on a line with Vinny Saponari has certainly helped him, but he also has shown the capability of making things happen all by himself.

Standings
1. L. Karlsson 9

2. C. Rawlings 8

2. B. Pimm 8

4. G. Vermeersch 7

4. C. Ferriero 7

6. S. Quailer 6

7. M. McLaughlin 5

8. V. Saponari 4

9. J. Manno 3

9. A. Bitetto 3

9. J. Daniels 3

12. D. Cornell 2

13. D. Ellement 1

13. A. Reid 1

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Final: Huskies 4, Vermont 2

January 29, 2012

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Northeastern completed the weekend and series sweep of Vermont with a 4-2 win last night.

Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca

The Basics

  • Robbie Vrolyk, Alex Tuckerman, Dan Cornell, and Cody Ferriero scored for the Huskies.
  • Mike McLaughlin had 3 assists. Vrolyk, Tuckerman, Braden Pimm, Garrett Vermeersch, and Anthony Bitetto also had one a piece.
  • Chris Rawlings saved 23 out of 25 shots.
  • NU outshot the Catamounts 28 to 25.
  • NU was 0-1 on the PP.  Vermont was 1-4.
What You Need to Know
  • The Huskies never trailed and besides the end of the first period, they were the better team and they controlled the game for long stretches of play.  But Vermont made it 3-2 with 2 minutes left and set up a nervy finish.
  • The third line had a big night to cap off a big weekend.  Vrolyk picked up his first goal in forever.   McLaughlin had a huge weekend and picked up 3 assists.
  • The sweep is huge for Northeastern because it puts them right back in the playoff picture.   Thanks to helpful results elsewhere in the league, the Huskies now sit tied for 7th with UMass Amherst, who Northeastern plays next Friday.
  • This was a big weekend for the Huskies.  On paper, it should have been an easy 4 points.   But its never that easy with Northeastern.   This weekend, they took care of business and righted the ship.  Now they are in a position to make the playoffs if they can keep this up.
Lines:
Karlsson-Vermeersch-Saponari
Ferriero-Pimm-Quailer
Vrolyk-McLaughlin-Tuckerman
Reid-Daniels-Manno
D:
Bitetto-Cornell
Eibler-Manson
Ellement-Daniels

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Final: Huskies 8, Vermont 3

January 28, 2012

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Northeastern snapped their 4 game losing streak with a huge 8-3 win at Vermont last night.

Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca

The Basics

  • Cody Ferriero picked up a natural hat trick for the Huskies.   The other goals came from Garrett Vermeersch, Mike McLaughlin, Adam Reid, Ludwig Karlsson and Steve Quailer all had goals for Northeastern.
  • Drew Ellement, Josh Manson, Anthony Bitetto, Steve Quailer (2), Justin Daniels, Braden Pimm (3), Ludwig Karlsson (2), Vinny Saponari (2), and Cody Ferriero all picked up assists.
  • Chris Rawlings saved 31 out of 34 shots.
  • Vermont outshot NU 34-30.
  • NU was 3-6 on the PP, but gave up a shorthanded goal.   Vermont was 1-6
What You Need to Know
  • The Huskies traveled on Thursday morning and they reaped the benefits.
  • In a must win game, he team came out fresh and jumped out to an early 2 goal lead and controlled the game from there.
  • 3 power play goals for the this time is huge.   Giving up shorthanded goals  is becoming an issue for this team.  Luckily it didn’t hurt them last night.  Also, the shorthanded goal was scored by Kyle Mountain, who is the younger brother of NU’s backup goalie Bryan Mountain.
  • 12 out of 18 Huskies had points.  5 had multipoint games (Quailer 3, Pimm 3, Karlsson 3, Saponari 2, Ferriero 4)
  • It was a good night for NU as they got they win they needed and they were able to break out their offensive slump.     But if they can’t compete like this for the rest of the season, then it won’t matter much.
Lines:
Karlsson-Vermeersch-Saponari
Ferriero-Pimm-Quailer
Vrolyk-McLaughlin-Tuckerman
Reid-Daniels-Manno
D:
Bitetto-Cornell
Eibler-Manson
Ellement-Daniels

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Preview: Huskies at Vermont

January 27, 2012

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Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca

The Huskies will spend the weekend in Burlington with a chance to potentially save their playoff hopes.

Vermont is in last place with a 2-13-1 record in Hockey East.  Northeastern needs 4 points from this weekend.  They are much better than Vermont and they need to prove that.

The Huskies are just 2-5-3 at the Gut since Vermont joined Hockey East.   Last time they went up to Vermont for 2 games, they won the 1st game 3-1, then lost the 2nd 9-2.   They beat Vermont in their only meeting this season.   The Huskies won that game 4-1 at Matthews in what was the start of their winning streak.   Hopefully this weekend can be the start of a new winning streak.  The Huskies need it to get into the playoffs.

This may be a chance to give Clay Witt a start.  Rawlings has been off lately and he could use a rest.   Witt hasn’t looked good in his few chances this year, but he showed last year that he can step in and give this team some solid goaltending.

The problem with the Huskies has been offense lately.   They just haven’t been scoring enough to win games.   Going o for on the PP every night doesn’t help that.    Maybe it is time to shake up the lines, the PP, and whatever else they can.  They have nothing to lose at this point.

We detailed Northeastern’s road to the playoffs this week and its pretty clear that without 3 or 4 points this weekend, the playoffs will be unreachable.  Lets hope the Huskies can take care of business.

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Northeastern’s Path to the Playoffs

January 26, 2012

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Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca

It has been well documented over the past two weeks that Northeastern is in serious of danger of missing the playoffs.  And after getting swept by Lowell, that danger has never been more apparent than it is now.

The reason the Huskies find themselves in this position is their awful start.  When they lost at UMass on November 11th, the Huskies fell to 1-7-2 in Hockey East.  At the time we tweeted that Northeastern was very likely to miss the playoffs because we couldn’t see them finishing ahead of anyone besides Vermont.  The Huskies then went 7-0-1 with wins over Notre Dame (twice), Michigan, and Minnesota, and everyone forgot all about that awful start.

But now the Huskies have lost four straight since that streak and now everyone is beginning to realize that as great as that streak was, it meant very little in terms of the Hockey East standings.  As of today, Northeastern finds itself with just 10 Hockey East games left to improve their 4-11-2 conference record and find a way back into the playoffs.

It won’t be easy.  Jill Saftel has a piece on the recent struggles and what they mean.  And Alex Faust has begun his yearly look at the playoff picture.  Both of these are good reads and they show that Northeastern is in quite the hole.   Judging by their play and the play of those around them, Northeastern looks like a longshot to make the playoffs, but there is hope.   And we have that hope right here.

This is the 7th season that the Hockey East has had 10 teams.   In the previous 6 season, the 8th place finisher (the last playoff spot) has finished with anywhere from 16 to 25 points. Over those 6 years, the average point total for the 8th place finisher has been about 20.7.  For 9th place its been about 17.3.

Only twice has a team gotten over 20 points and missed the playoffs .  In 2007, UNH ran away with the title by 8 points and there was just a 10 point gap between 2nd and 8th.  Maine had 21 points but finished 9th.  UMass finished 8th with 23.  That kind of occurrence is pretty unlikely this season as no team looks like they are head and shoulders above the rest (you could argue BU is, but I think its still wait and see mode with them.  If they sweep Maine this weekend, then I think thats a possibility.)

The other time that has happened was one you may remember as it happened to Northeastern.  In 2010, Northeastern finished with 24 points and still finished 9th.  Vermont grabbed the last spot with 25.  The weird thing was that Northeastern was just 4 points away from getting home ice.  That was a crazy year.  UNH won the league with just 36 points, and the 22 point gap from 1st to 10th was easily the smallest gap since the league expanded to 10 teams.  This scenario could happen again this year with the middle of the pack bunched so closely together.   But separation is very likely to occur in the final third of the season.  UNH, PC, and UMass are just not going to keep up with Maine and BC.

So if we can rule out those two occurrences because they are unlikely to happen this season, we can say that you need about 20 points to get into the playoffs.   Northeastern currently has 10 points and 10 games left to play.  So if they can managed 10-12 points out their last 12 games they can probably get in.

Here is who they have left to play: @Vermont, @Vermont, vs UMA, @UNH, vs PC, vs PC, vs Maine, vs Maine, @BU, vs BU

Maine and BU are going to be very tough series and I don’t think anyone wants a repeat of  ’09-’10 (NU needs just 1 point out 2 games against BU in the final weekend to make the playoffs.  They didn’t get it, and UMass swept Maine leaving NU out of the playoffs with 24 points).

If you expect no points from the BU series, and maybe 1 against Maine since they are at home both nights, then you need 9 from the other games.

Obviously this weeked at Vermont is huge because it should absolutely be 4 points.   But I’d argue the other 4 games (UMA, UNH, and PC x2) are even bigger.  Those three teams are the ones NU is chasing for that last spot, so any losses to those teams is not only a lost opportunity to pick up points, but it also increases the deficit.  Losses in those games could be the end of all hope for the Huskies.

UNH still has 2 games each  with UMass and PC.  Thats good for the Huskies as it will ensure that not every team they are chasing is picking up points.   UNH is also the closest team in the standings to the Huskies, but they are also unlikely to be caught.  They still have 2 games with Vermont and they are 2-2 in their last 4 HE games with both losses coming in OT against top 4 teams.  They also have a game in hand on the Huskies.

UMass is 4 ahead of NU, but has 2 games in hand.   In addition to the 2 with UNH, they still have Maine, Merrimack, and Lowell twice, as well as one with PC and BU.  PC is 7 ahead plus a game in hand, but also maybe the most likely to be caught.   The Friars looked to be stumbling after getting run over by BU, but bounced back by beating Lowell on Tuesday.  IF (and thats a big if) the Huskies can sweep the Friars when they visit Matthews, then NU could definitely be in a position to pass them as PC finishes with Lowell x2 and BC x2.

So its not great for the Huskies, but its possible.   If they can get 20-22 points, they should be ok.   That all starts with picking up an absolutely vital 4 this weekend though.   If they don’t take care of business this weekend, its going to be a very tough task.  3 points is a minimum.

Just for the record, here is how I think Hockey East will finish

1. BU

2. BC

3. MAINE

4. LOWELL

5. MERRIMACK

6. UNH

7. UMASS

8. NORTHEASTERN

9. PC

10. VERMONT

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Weekly Stats Leaders:1/26

January 26, 2012

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Here are your Weekly Stats Leaders for the Huskies

With Justin Daniels being scratched this weekend, only 5 Huskies have played in all 22 games this season: Garrett Vermeersch, Vinny Saponari, Anthony Bitteto, Drew Daniels and Drew Ellement.

  Goals
Braden Pimm 9
Ludwig Karlsson 8
Steve Quailer 7

 

  Assists
Vinny Saponari 13
Steve Quailer 12
Ludwig Karlsson 11

 


  Points
Steve Quailer 19
Ludwig Karlsson 19
Vinny Saponari 16

 

  +/-
Braden Pimm +14
Josh Manson +10
Drew Ellement +9

 

  PIM
Josh Manson 44
Luke Eibler 37
Joseph Manno 33

  Shots
Steve Quailer 65
Braden Pimm 52
Garrett Vermeersch 51

 

  GW Goals
Cody Ferriero 2
Steve Quailer 2
Braden Pimm 1

 

  PP Goals
Steve Quailer 3
Ludwig Karlsson 2
Anthony Bitetto 1

 

  SH Goals
Braden Pimm 2
Vinny Saponari 1
Steve Quailer 1

 

  PP Points
Garrett Vermeersch 5
Ludwig Karlsson 4
Justin Daniels 4
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