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.