Now that every team in the ECAC has played an equal amount of league games, the standings have finally started to take shape. One of the first things I noticed at first glance, was the top four teams have separated themselves from the rest of the pack and those teams are only separated by a mere two points. Doesn’t it always seem that the races are close in the ECAC? Certainly the case this year.
Despite its loss to Harvard on Friday night, Union has the league lead at 27 points, Harvard is in second with 26, while Cornell and SLU each have 25. These teams seem to be in a drivers seat for the top four spots, as Quinnipiac is four points back with just four games to play. The Bobcats are still mathematically in the race for a bye but it would need some help. Six points back of the Cleary with just four to play seems quite the uphill battle for the Bobcats and with all the games left between the top teams, it is even more unlikely.
I guess over the next few weeks there will be a lot of talk about who the favorite is, I think it is pretty clear that it should be Harvard. Does that mean they will win the Cleary? No, not at all. Right now they are playing the best hockey among the top four teams and at just a point back they are in the best position if Union were to slip up. The Crimson head to the Beanpot Final on Monday with the best winning percentage in the country, fourth in the Pairwise and third in RPI. They also have the best goal margin in the country.
Each team has its advantage. SLU has its defense and goaltender, Union has a high flying top line, Harvard of course has the talent up and down its lineup, while Cornell has the size and speed to wear teams down. The interesting part of this all, is that it could set up a defacto regular season championship game on 2/25. On that day, SLU plays at Harvard and Cornell hosts Union. Wouldn’t it be something if one of those games actually meant something?
The top four teams also have a lot on the line in terms of the national picture. Harvard is the only comfortable team at fourth in the Pairwise, while Union (11) and Cornell (13) are on the bubble but in at the moment. SLU is on the outside looking in at 18.
Down the league standings, there are other trends that have taken hold. There are just four points separating sixth place Clarkson from tenth place Dartmouth. The Big Green have been falling fast but Gate has been picking up steam. The Red Raiders were one of just two teams in the ECAC to pick up four points this weekend, the other being Princeton. Quinnipiac is three points up on Clarkson for fifth place. Princeton holds a lock on the eight seed in the ECAC with 15 points, followed by Colgate and Dartmouth who each have 14. Brown will be on the road for the first round, as they are eight points back with four games left. RPI is also likely to be on the road, being seven points back of eighth.
Below I take a look at the current positions, where teams can finish and their remaining games. Please remember, the likelihood of say a Quinnipiac finishing first is really low, while seeing Union in fifth would also be a stretch.
1. Union 27 pts, 1-5, (QU, Princeton, @Colgate, @Cornell)
2. Harvard 26 pts, 1-6 (@Yale, @Brown, Clarkson, SLU)
3. Cornell 25 pts., 1-6 (@SLU, @Clarkson, RPI, Union)
4. SLU 25 pts., 1-6 (Cornell, Colgate, @Dartmouth, @Harvard)
5. Quinnipiac, 21 pts, 1-9 (@Union, @RPI, Yale, Brown)
6. Clarkson, 18 pts., 2-10 (Colgate, Cornell, @Harvard, @Dartmouth)
7. Yale, 16 pts., 5-10 (Harvard, Dartmouth, @QU, @Princeton)
8. Princeton, 15 pts., 5-11, (@RPI, @Union, Brown, Yale)
9. Dartmouth, 14 pts.,5-11 (@Brown, @Yale, SLU, Clarkson)
9. Colgate, 14 pts., 5-12 (@Clarkson, @SLU, Union, RPI)
11. Rensselaer, 8 pts., 8-12 (Princeton, QU, @Cornell @Colgate)
12. Brown, 7 pts.,9-12 (Dartmouth, Harvard, @Princeton, @QU)
Now what is the fun of doing that? Here is what I think will happen the last two weeks.
Harvard 6 Yale 2
Princeton 4 RPI 1
Union 3 QU 1
Brown 6 Dartmouth 5
Cornell 3 SLU 1
Clarkson 4 Colgate 2
QU 3 RPI 1
Union 4 Princeton 2
Harvard 7 Brown 1
Yale 5 Dartmouth 1
SLU 4 Colgate 2
Clarkson 2 Cornell 2
Cornell 4 RPI 2
Princeton 3 Brown 2
QU 4 Yale 2
Harvard 5 Clarkson 3
Union 4 Gate 1
SLU 5 Dartmouth 1
Cornell 4 Union 2
QU 3 Brown 1
Harvard 5 SLU 2
Princeton 3 Yale 2
Colgate 4 RPI 3
Clarkson 4 Dartmouth 3
So the standings would look like this
1. Harvard 34 pts
2. Union 33
3. Cornell 32
4. SLU 29
5. Quinnipiac 27
6. Clarkson 23
7. Princeton 21
8. Yale 18
9. Colgate 16
10. Dartmouth 14
11. Brown 9
12. RPI 8
If anyone wants to save these and laugh at me at the end of the year feel free. The ECAC is so unpredictable, something unthinkable will happen. Enjoy the hockey the next couple of weeks.