Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Hockey East Power Rankings, January 29, 2013

There's a huge shakeup in this week’s Power Rankings. If BC gets healthy and the top two lines show up to play, it is the best team in the league. For now, though, the Eagles just don't deserve a lofty ranking.

1. Boston University: The Terriers took three out of four points from Providence last weekend and have the best league record of any of the top three teams in the league standings. If either of the two freshman goaltenders can go on a run and provide stability in net, BU is the team to beat.

2. UMass-Lowell: It's hard to argue with an eleven game unbeaten streak. The River Hawks are peaking at the right time. The only concern is freshman goaltender Connor Hellebuyck's injury being more than a short term issue. Junior goalie Doug Carr has not found his form of a year ago and is a liability between the pipes right now.

3. New Hampshire: Dick Umile started Jeff Wyer in net Friday night. That might have been the wake-up call Casey DeSmith needed. He got the call Saturday and stopped 35 of 37 in a 6-2 win over Merrimack. Sophomore forward Grayson Downing had a goal and two assists Saturday after being held off the scoresheet for five consecutive games.

4. Boston College: The Eagles have been struggling immensely since Christmas. That trend continued over the weekend, being swept at home by Maine. BC came nine seconds away from being shutout Saturday night. It seems like every year the Eagles go through a tough stretch in January before rebounding for March and April. However, this team doesn't have the depth of past teams.

5. Providence: The Friars are a team that skates well and competes on a nightly basis, but there is a lot of young talent that has not yet developed enough. Freshman goalie Jon Gillies will keep them in games most nights. They have a tough finish ahead for the season, but will be a tough out in the Hockey East Tournament.

6. Merrimack: The Warriors scored some timely goals to upset UNH at home on Friday night. But on Saturday night they let up some untimely goals in a 6-2 loss to the Wildcats. Mark Dennehy's team will need to continue riding the hot hand of junior forward Mike Collins, the Hockey East Player of the Month for January, to have success for this season.

7. UMass-Amherst: The Minutemen couldn't cash in Saturday night, thus losing out on two points in Burlington. Not to be a broken record, but Michael Pereira and Conor Sheary need to return their form of a year ago, and Kevin Boyle or Steve Mastalerz need to catch fire in net.

8. Maine: The Black Bears swept first place Boston College in Chestnut Hill to move within three points of 7th place. For a while now it has been obvious that this team had the talent to be much better than it was playing. Considering how well Martin Ouellette is playing in net, Tim Whitehead's team could be dangerous if they make it into the quarterfinals.

9. Vermont: The Catamounts have ten games left, 7 of which are against BC, UNH and BU. Ouch!!! UVM just isn't good enough to deal with that stretch. Kevin Sneddon's team cannot generate enough scoring opportunities consistently to win with a freshman goaltender who appears to have hit a wall.

10. Northeastern: The Huskies blew a three goal lead Saturday night to Lowell, eventually losing in overtime. NU finally found some scoring touch last weekend, but watching the highlights shows just how weak their goaltending is. One of the lone bright spots has been the play of freshman Kevin Roy who has been one of the best rookie forwards in the league.