Tag Archives: Hockey East Playoff Picture

3 Way and 4 Way Tie Scenarios for Northeastern

February 29, 2012


For any of these to occur, Northeastern will need to really play well this weekend.  If somehow they pull off 3 or 4 points, we could see some 3 or 4 way ties.  They best they can finish is 7th as UNH owns the tiebreaker over them.  The worst they can finish is 9th and out of the playoffs.  Hockey East did not include these ties in their release, so these may not be correct, but I am pretty sure they are.


NOTE: All of the scenarios rely on UNH losing and/or PC picking up either 0 or 1 points on the weekend.

NOTE: There is a 99.99999999964% chance that none of these happen.

4 way tie: (6) UNH ,  (7) NU,  (8) PC,  (9) UMass

This one is from the Hockey East release, so it is 100% accurate. This one is very unlikely.   NU and UMass would need sweeps .  UNH would have to lose their one game against Maine.  Pc would have to take just 1 point from Lowell.    The second two could very easily happen, but NU and UMass both sweeping is extremely unlikely.   But in this scenario, a UMass sweep would leave them out of the playoffs, which would be a very cruel fate for them.

3 way tie: (6) UNH, (7) UMass,  (8) NU

This one is also very unlikely, as it still requires sweeps from UMass in Northeastern.  In this case, both would pass PC who would have been swept by Lowell.  All 3 teams would make the playoffs at 24 points.  UNH would be the 6 after going 2-1 against both UMass and NU. Then we’d be right back where we started as UMass and NU would need the third tiebreaker, which goes to UMass, to decide the seeding.

3 way tie: (6) UNH, (7) NU, (8) PC

If UMass doesn’t get the sweep and NU does, they will be the 7 seed.  Even if PC picks up a 1 point, NU would still be the 7 since they own the tiebreaker against PC.

3 way tie: (7) NU, (8) PC, (9) UMass

Here is the big one.  This one, while still unlikely, is the only one you could realistically expect to happen.  And even that might be pushing it.   If NU and UMass both take 3 points, and PC gets swept, all 3 would be tied.  NU is 2-1-3 against the other 2, PC is 2-1-3 against the other 2, and UMass is 1-3-2 against the other two.  So it would go to head to head between NU and PC, which NU would win.  PC would follow, and UMass would miss the playoffs.


2 ways:  UNH has the TB over NU, NU has the TB over PC, and UMass has the TB over NU.


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Playoff Tiebreaks for Northeastern

February 19, 2012

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Northeastern and UMass are for the last playoff spot with 4 games left in the season.  NU has Maine at home for 2 and then a home and home with BU.  UMass has UNH at home for 2 then a home and home with Merrimack.   If the two teams finish on equal points, here is what will happen

1st Tiebreaker: Head to Head Record

Braden Pimm’s goal with .3 seconds left in the season opener earned NU a tie.  UMass then beat NU easily in the Huskies lone trip to Amherst this season. Vinny Saponari’s overtime goal a few weeks ago gave NU may prove to be crucial as a tie would have given UMass the season series.   But thanks to Saponari, the teams finish the year 1-1-1 against each other, meaning it must go to the second tiebreaker.

2nd Tiebreaker: Conference Wins

In addition to failing to pull away from UMass this weekend, the two ties may prove costly for the Huskies.   UMass only managed 2 points on the weekend as well, but there was a win, which means both teams have 7 conference wins.   Its a very real possibility that NU does not pick up another win this season, whereas UMass has a fairly better chance of doing so.   But its not unbelievable to think that there may be a need for the third tiebreaker

3rd Tiebreaker: Record Against 1st Place

Here is where it gets interesting.   If BC wins the leagues, then UMass will win the tiebreaker since they went 2-1 against BC.  If Lowell wins the league, then NU would win the tiebreaker courtesy of their win against Lowell back in December.   Other candidates to win the league are BU and Maine and they are bit more messy since NU has 2 games left against each.  UMass was 1-1-1 against BU, so NU would have to go at least 1-0-1 against BU in the final weekend of the season.   If that were to happen, there is almost no way that BU would win the league, so the point would be moot.  The same applies to Maine but even more so as they trail league leaders BC by 3 points and have one less game to play.   So if it gets to this third tiebreaker, it will depend on Lowell or BC and either way it will be a cruel twist of fate.   If BC wins, Northeastern will be kept out of the playoffs by a team that has already beaten them 4 times this season.   If Lowell wins, UMass will be kept out of the playoffs by their archrival, who already swept them this season.   NOTE: In reality, the team that misses will be kept out by their inability to win games .

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Hockey East Recap: 1/30

January 30, 2012


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.



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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Northeastern’s Path to the Playoffs

January 26, 2012


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




6. UNH



9. PC


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