Hockey East Power Rankings: 1/25/12

Posted by: Scott McLaughlin

The only spots I really feel confident about this week are first and 10th. Spots two through five are virtually inseparable in my mind, and the same goes for spots six through nine. Only one of those middle eight teams is in the same spot as last week.

1. Boston University (15-6-1, 12-4-1 HE) — Last week: 1

The Terriers strengthened their hold on the top spot by smoking Providence 6-1 on Friday and 8-0 on Saturday. They went an absurd 8-for-15 on the power play, moving them up to fifth in the country on the man advantage. They’ve scored two or more power-play goals in four of their last five games, and Saturday marked the first time they’ve scored six in a game since 1996. BU now ranks third nationally in offense and first in the PairWise.

2. Merrimack (13-5-5, 9-4-3 HE) — Last week: 3

The Warriors lost to UNH 2-1 on Friday before rebounding with a 3-2 overtime victory Saturday. They’ve allowed exactly two goals in each of their last five games, maintaining their league-leading 2.00 goals-against average. Joe Cannata stopped 59 of the 63 shots he saw and now ranks second in the conference with a .928 save percentage. Merrimack lost Carter Madsen (7 points) for the season when he suffered an ankle injury Saturday.

3. Massachusetts-Lowell (14-7-0, 9-6-0 HE) — Last week: 4

Lowell swept Northeastern with a 4-0 win Friday and 3-2 overtime win Saturday, but then lost to Providence 1-0 on Tuesday. Scott Wilson tallied three goals and an assist over the weekend and now leads all Hockey East rookies with 11 goals and 20 points this season. The River Hawks rank third in the conference in offense and second in defense, and they climbed to third in the PairWise before falling back to 10th after Tuesday’s loss.

4. Maine (12-8-3, 9-7-2 HE) — Last week: 5

The Black Bears picked up a big sweep of BC, winning 4-3 in overtime Friday before coming away with a 7-4 victory Saturday. They went 4-for-8 on the power play and lead the conference with a 29.7-percent mark on the season. Spencer Abbott, Brian Flynn and Joey Diamond continue to rank first, second and third, respectively, in the league in scoring, while Matt Mangene recorded a hat trick on Saturday.

5. Boston College (14-10-1, 10-7-1 HE) — Last week: 2

The Eagles had been on the verge of dropping for a while, and they finally dropped from the top spot last week. They fall even further this week after getting swept by Maine, giving them a 2-5-1 record in their last eight. The offense scored more than it had been, but both goalies struggled, as Chris Venti gave up four goals on 33 shots Friday and Brian Billett gave up five on 33 Saturday.

6. Massachusetts (9-8-5, 5-6-4 HE) — Last week: 7

The Minutemen extended their winning streak to three with a 4-3 victory over Vermont in their only game of the weekend. Danny Hobbs registered a hat trick, continuing his strong second half that includes points in six straight games. Freshman goalie Steve Mastalerz picked up his second straight win and has a .959 save percentage in those two starts.

7. New Hampshire (9-12-2, 6-9-1 HE) — Last week: 9

The Wildcats also extended their winning streak to three on Friday with a 2-1 win over Merrimack, but then they had it snapped with an overtime loss the next night. Their defense, which has been their biggest weakness most of the season, has allowed just five goals in the last four games. Freshman Casey DeSmith has a .949 save percentage during that span and has clearly taken over the starting job.

8. Providence (10-11-2, 8-7-1 HE) — Last week: 8

The Friars got absolutely embarrassed by BU over the weekend, but they saved themselves from dropping a spot by beating Lowell on Tuesday. Alex Beaudry got pulled from both games over the weekend, but then saved all 29 shots he faced Tuesday. Providence is 2-5-1 in its last eight and ranks in the bottom three in Hockey East in both offense and defense.

9. Northeastern (8-11-3, 4-11-2 HE) — Last week: 6

After putting together an eight-game unbeaten streak from mid-November to late December, the Huskies have now lost four in a row following this weekend’s sweep by Lowell. They’ve scored just three goals in their last three games, and their league-worst power play continues to dwell below the 10-percent mark. Northeastern is now three points behind UNH for the eighth and final playoff spot, and UNH has a game in hand.

10. Vermont (5-17-1, 2-13-1 HE) — Last week: 10

The Catamounts lost to UMass in their only game of the weekend. They really aren’t all that close to moving up in these rankings, but finding a way to sweep Northeastern this weekend would certainly close the gap and help make it at least a possibility. On a more positive note, Drew MacKenzie has a nine-game point streak.

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