Home Men's Hockey First place not far-fetched for the Warriors

First place not far-fetched for the Warriors

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Thanks to winning the season series with both Boston College and New Hampshire, first place in Hockey East is well within reach with just four games remaining.

Running a quick projection, here is the simplest way for the Warriors to earn the No. 1 seed in the Hockey East tournament (there are a few scenarios):

Merrimack earns AT LEAST 6 of a possible 8 points (3-1-0, 2-0-2) in the final two weekends at Maine and in a home-and-home series with Providence.

Boston College earns NO MORE THAN 6 of a possible 8 points in the final two weekends in home-and-home series with UMass and UNH

UNH earns NO MORE THAN 4 of a possible 8 points in home-and-home series against Northeastern and BC.

Really, it’s not that complex.

The Warriors need to makeup two points on UNH while not losing any points to BC over the final 8 points of the regular season. If that happens, then Merrimack is the No. 1 seed in the tournament and would share the HEA regular season championship with both BC and UNH.

The top-2 finishers in the league will have a much easier road to the semifinals – assuming the standings stay as they are now – at the TD Garden than the third and fourth-place finishers.

I don’t think anyone wants to play Northeastern right now, and the Huskies look primed for that fifth or sixth-place spot. And Maine … while the Black Bears have had their struggles, they are still a top-20 team in the country.

If Maine and NU finish fifth and sixth, as I expect them to, then seventh and eighth are one of Vermont, UMass or Providence (likely Vermont and UMass, based on current records).

Merrimack’s record against those two teams this season is 5-0-1 (outscoring opponents 28-10), including a 4-0-0 record at Lawler Arena.

Merrimack’s record against the fifth and sixth-place teams is still an admirable 3-1-0 (outscoring opponents 14-7) and that’s with two games left against Maine this weekend. But finishing in the top-2 certainly paves a smoother road, with less of an opportunity for speed bumps.

In a per-game average, Merrimack is outscoring the seventh and eighth-place teams 4.67-1.67 (+3.00 GPG) this season and outscoring the fifth and sixth-place teams 3.50-1.75 (+1.75 GPG).

The gap seems to close a lot between sixth and seventh-place, which makes first or second a lot more favorable than third or fourth.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Mike: A perfect analysis to date but the margin may narrow this weekend at Maine where we have won but never swept. I definitely agree we want to avoid Northeastern. Anything can happen in playoffs, as in the 90s when we won three straight over BC during the regular season and then lost two home playoff games; the very next year as the eighth seed we defeated regular season champion BU two of three at Walter Brown for our only trip to the Garden.

  2. Bud — in 1998 after the last game of the regular season I don't think too many MC fans wanted MC to face BU. Aside from being the top seed, and No. 1 in the polls, BU had won that last regular season game 9-1 — and all three games. MC had dropped 12 in a row. BU had to feel like they could not have had a better matchup. I'm just saying that I'm wary of the question of who do you want to face or avoid. NU does look like a tough matchup for anyone, but Vermont tied MC, UMass lost two one goal games including one in OT, Maine could be coming around at just the right time…anything can happen is definitely right. 🙂

  3. I still have a VHS copy of game three from that MC-BU series from '98. If I recall correctly, Coach Anderson basically only played his top two lines for all three games.

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