Hockey East Power Rankings: 12/15/11

Posted by: Scott McLaughlin

These will be the last power rankings before the new year. Only two Hockey East teams play this weekend, as Merrimack hosts Union and Vermont hosts St. Lawrence. Then everyone’s on break until the holiday tournaments. The last week was an exciting one around the conference — and not just on the ice — but there wound up being no movement from last week’s power rankings.

1. Boston College (12-6-0, 9-4-0 HE) — Last week: 1

BC beat Providence 4-1 last Tuesday before closing out the first semester with a 3-2 loss at Lowell on Friday. The Eagles enter the break in a bit of a funk — at least by their standards — having gone 4-5-0 in their last nine games. They still lead the conference in offense and rank second in defense, though. Chris Kreider has at least a point in all but two games this season, and he’s now tied for the league lead with 23 points.

2. Merrimack (10-2-2, 7-2-1 HE) — Last week: 2

The Warriors followed up their first two losses of the season with a 5-2 win over Vermont last Wednesday and a 1-1 tie at Colgate on Saturday. They continue to lead Hockey East in defense, but they rank seventh in the league in offense and have scored just one goal in three of their last four games. After giving up six goals two Saturdays ago against Providence, Joe Cannata rebounded by stopping 66 of 69 shots in the two games last week.

3. Massachusetts-Lowell (10-5-0, 7-4-0 HE) — Last week: 3

Lowell extended its winning streak to five with a 3-2 win over BC on Friday, but then had it snapped the next night in a 3-2 loss to Northeastern. Despite that loss, the River Hawks have to be thrilled with where they sit at the break. They have already doubled their win total from last season and they are 8-2-0 in their last 10 games. They rank in the top three in the conference in offense, defense and special teams net.

4. Boston University (10-5-1, 8-4-1 HE) — Last week: 4

The Terriers picked up a pair of road victories last week, beating UNH 2-1 on Thursday and Maine 5-1 on Saturday. They enter the break having won seven of their last eight games. Of course, all of that was soon overshadowed by Corey Trivino’s arrest on Sunday night and subsequent dismissal from the team. Trivino led BU in points with 17 and led all of Hockey East in goals with 13, so BU will have a giant hole to fill in terms of production.

5. Providence (8-7-1, 6-4-0 HE) — Last week: 5

The Friars closed out their first semester with a 4-1 loss at BC last Tuesday. That was their third game in five days, following their sweep of Merrimack. As impressive as those two wins over Merrimack were, Providence is still just 2-4-0 in its last six games. While the Friars rank in the middle of the pack in offense and defense, their biggest strength has been special teams. They lead the league with a plus-11 special teams net.

6. Northeastern (7-7-2, 4-7-2 HE) — Last week: 6

After starting the season 1-7-2, the Huskies finished the semester on a six-game winning streak, most recently beating Lowell on Saturday. The defense and goaltending have been solid, as the team ranks fourth in the league in defense and Chris Rawlings ranks third in save percentage. The offense has been better during the winning streak, but it still ranks ninth in the conference. The power play, meanwhile, is dead last at a measly 9.5 percent.

7. Maine (6-7-2, 5-6-1 HE) — Last week: 7

The Black Bears’ four-game unbeaten streak came to an end with their loss to BU on Saturday. They have the best power play in Hockey East at 24.3 percent, but they rank just seventh in special teams net thanks to the fact that they take the third-most penalties, have the third-worst penalty kill, and have allowed the most shorthanded goals. Maine also finds itself in the bottom half of the league in both offense and defense.

8. New Hampshire (6-9-2, 4-7-1 HE) — Last week: 8

Like Maine, the Wildcats’ first semester ended with a home loss to BU. They are just 1-5-0 in their last six games and have now been swept by the Terriers on the season. Defense and goaltending continue to be a problem, as UNH ranks ninth in the league in defense while Matt Di Girolamo ranks ninth in save percentage. Even the offense, which has been good most of the season, has struggled of late, scoring just six goals in the last three games.

9. Massachusetts (5-7-4, 2-6-3 HE) — Last week: 9

The Minutemen snapped a five-game winless streak by beating Yale 3-1 last Wednesday. After scoring just five goals in its previous four games, UMass has now tallied seven in its last two. T.J. Syner, who had a goal Wednesday, continues to lead the way. He’s tied for fourth in the league with 20 points and now has at least a point in all but two games this season.

10. Vermont (3-11-1, 1-9-1 HE) — Last week: 10

It’s hard to find any positives for the Catamounts. They’ve lost three in a row and 10 of their last 13. They have the worst offense in Hockey East, the worst defense, the worst penalty kill and the second-worst power play. Rob Madore doesn’t have much help in front of him, but his .850 save percentage — by far the worst in the league among qualifying goalies — certainly hasn’t helped matters at all.

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