Hockey East Weekend Takeaways: Oct. 24

Posted by: Mike McMahon

— Call me crazy, but I’m still not 100 percent sold on UNH. Sure, the Wildcats are improved over a year ago, but anyone who follows analytics will look at UNH’s 106 PDO and say to themselves, “something’s got to give.” The Wildcats have Vermont this weekend, a team that is struggling to get going, and then is at the rebuilding UMass Minutemen the week after. The true litmus test for UNH will begin on Nov. 10, when the Wildcats begin a stretch that includes games against Lowell, BU, BC, Yale and Providence. It’s a seven-game stretch where four will be on the road.

— Speaking of BC, it’s not crazy to suggest that the Eagles could be 1-5-1 after this weekend (it felt weird just typing that). The Eagles are 1-3-1 after getting swept at St. Cloud State last weekend and this weekend they’ll travel to Providence — the Friars are looking for redemption after BC beat them, 4-3, in overtime earlier this year — and then BC returns home to host the Denver Pioneers, a team that is steamrolling just about everyone it faces. Denver tied Lake State last weekend, but the Pios outshot LSSU 66-17 … 66! Shot attempts were 100-26!

— Hockey East is struggling in non-conference play, and while many of these games have come against top teams, and on the road, it’s a trend that could seriously hurt the league come the Pairwise rankings in March. Hockey East has a .477 winning percentage in non-conference games, which is third best in the nation but way behind the Big Ten (.629) and NCHC (.625). There are still plenty of non-conference games to be played, but the league needs to do better if it wants to get a fifth team, perhaps, into the NCAA Tournament.

— Stick tap to UConn senior defenseman Johnny Austin. In just six games, Austin has nine points (1g, 8a) which is just one point behind his career high, set last season in 35 games. Austin had four points this past weekend against Boston University.

— If Northeastern makes a deep playoff run, it’s totally possible that the Huskies play 40 games. So let’s play a little game and project Dylan Sikura’s six-game production over 40 games … 48 goals and 48 assists. 96 points! Sikura was on my shortlist for Hobey candidates entering this season and he hasn’t disappointed. The crazy part is that Sikura isn’t really outshooting what he did last year. This season Sikura is scoring goals on 20 percent of his shots, and last season that percentage hovered around 15.

— Folks, you were worried about UMass Lowell after an opening-weekend sweep against UNH? You were worried about Norm Bazin? Shame on you! The River Hawks have won three straight games and outscored opponents by a margin of 13-3, and that includes handing Clarkson it’s only loss of the season, in their barn. UML is the only blemish on Omaha’s record as well.

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