Well guys, this is it. For real. The season started in doubt, and now it looks like it will end in doubt. Northeastern went 1-7-2 to start the year, 7-0-1 the next 8 games, and finally 3-8-2 in 2012. This team can dominate western and central college squads all they want, but when it comes down to brass tax, winning in-conference and making other teams think twice about taking a penalty is more important. So this particular weekend, the Huskies have a chance to set precedence for the future, and improve on their mentioned weaknesses going forward. #11 Maine (18-10-2 overall, 13-9-2 HE) sits at fourth in Hockey East, and will play just as hungrily as Northeastern, since it is not only looking to solidify home ice (keep in mind Maine has a huge advantage being 4 hours away from everyone else) and maybe take a top 3 seed.
Maine is 15-4-1 in its last 20 games, and boasts one of the best offensive attacks in college hockey, with a potent senior top line and power play. They’re a handful to say the least. Maine may prove to be too much to handle, but they give Northeastern a final chance to prove themselves. The Huskies power play is abysmal, but has shown signs of life recently. On the other side, Maine has been known to take a good deal of penalties and not kill them effectively. If Northeastern can shut down Abbott, Diamond, and Flynn, stay out of the box (Maine’s power play makes Northeastern’s look like dodgeball), and establish an effective special teams offensive, they may be able to pull off the double @ home weekend sweep. But one can only dream of such things. You’d have to ignore the Huskies’ glaring weaknesses in preventing bad goals and scoring impressive ones in order to for this to come true, and that would be downright ignorant.
Nonetheless, the only way into the playoffs has been set: Win more than UMass Amherst. The Huskies are deadlocked with the Minutemen but a tie-breaker gives Massachusetts the advantage (they play UNH and Merrimack to close the season). It would certainly help to get Steve Quailer back after a four week hiatus due to a leg injury, and Robbie Vrolyk is questionable after sustaining an injury last weekend against Providence.