Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Hockey East Power Rankings, January 22, 2013

With each of the top four teams in the league standings losing one league game each over the weekend, the standings are becoming even tighter. This will be a fun stretch run in Hockey East.

Here's my Hockey East Power Rankings for this week.

1. Boston College: The Eagles came out sluggish Friday night and got upset by UMass-Amherst, 5-2. Saturday night, thanks to atrocious goaltending from NU, BC erupted for nine goals. This was the second consecutive weekend playing without head coach Jerry York behind the bench. BC always seems to go through a slump in January yet they always seem to turn it around in time for March.

2. New Hampshire: Although the Wildcats lost to Providence on home ice and have been struggling of late, I'm still not comfortable putting them below Lowell. UNH took all three games from the River Hawks in the first half. The biggest area of concern is the play of Casey DeSmith. He has not been his usual self for over a month now and was pulled in favor of Jeff Wyer Saturday night.

3. UMass-Lowell: Norm Bazin's team did not defeat a single Team Under Consideration (Pairwise) in the first half. In extending their winning streak to nine games over the weekend, the River Hawks beat two TUC's in Providence and Boston University. Freshman Connor Hellebuyck continues to play real well in net, setting up the potential for a goaltending controversy in Lowell.

4. Boston University: The Terriers lost twice on the weekend, home games to Northeastern and Lowell. While the two freshman goaltenders didn't have their best performances, sophomore Evan Rodrigues had three goals and two assists on the weekend. I chalk this up to a tough weekend. Better days will be ahead for BU.

5. Providence: The Friars bounced back from a tough loss at Lowell on Thursday to defeat UNH on Saturday. The Friars jumped out to a big lead and held on for the road upset. The ironic part for PC was that freshman goaltender Jon Gillies played out of this world in the loss and was just pedestrian in the win. This was a significant win, proving to themselves that they can compete with the big boys of the league.

6. Merrimack: The Warriors took three of four points from Maine. It was the first time in school history taking points from Maine in back to back games in Orono. Mike Collins had three helpers in the win Saturday. Sam Marotta got three consecutive starts after the goalies had rotated every game from the beginning of the season. With the goaltending, defense and penalty kill tightening up, the power play and offense has been inconsistent. That is what will doom the Warriors to finishing no higher than sixth.

7. UMass-Amherst: The Minutemen had a nice upset win over Boston College Friday night. It was the program's first win at Conte Forum since 2007. They have a slightly easier schedule than Merrimack, but my biggest concern is their inconsistency on defense and in goal. John Micheletto's team seems to get up for the big game, but fails to show up every night, especially when the spotlight is not there.

8. Northeastern: The Huskies beat BU and lost to BC, but goaltending was less than stellar both nights. The offense has picked up some, but the defense and goaltending are still an issue that will keep NU down in the standings. The number one reason they will squeak into the playoffs is the teams below them have such issues and brutal finishing schedules.

9. Vermont: Just when Kevin Sneddon thought it couldn't get any worse, the Catamounts go ahead and lose to first year varsity program Penn State. There is just an all around lack of talent in Burlington and it will be amplified with their closing schedule. 

10. Maine: The Black Bears hung with Merrimack both nights, but only had one point to show for it. Still winless in Orono, Maine is just too far behind to make up significant ground in order to make the playoffs. With a very tough finishing schedule and an inability to win on home ice, there is little hope for Tim Whitehead's club.