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Three Things I Think: ECAC 2/23

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

It is always hard to believe when the last week of the regular season arrives. Only three teams have a shot at the Cleary Cup and subsequently the top seed in the ECAC tournament. Union sits in the catbird seat at the top, but are just one point clear of Harvard hot on their heels. Cornell also has a way to the title, at only three points back. The Big Red and the Dutchmen play in a game that could decide the regular season title on Saturday night in Ithaca.

Union, Harvard and Cornell are the only three teams to clinch a first round bye and home-ice in the quarterfinals. St. Lawrence needs just a point to clinch the other spot in the top four. It faces Dartmouth on Friday and Harvard on Saturday. I was really hoping for a game to decide the title, but it seems as though we won’t get it directly.

The national picture is looking very good for the top three teams as well. Harvard is comfortably third in the pairwise and one of the top seeds, if the NCAA tournament started today. Union is seventh in said rankings and Cornell is tenth. A Big Red win on Saturday would be a huge boost. Union has a tad more leeway with a loss. All other league teams would need to win the Whitelaw cup to gain entrance into the NCAA’s.

Without further ado, here are my thoughts for the week… (more…)

Three Things I Think: Big Ten, Feb. 21

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

All the usual suspects won out in the Big Ten. Minnesota swept Penn State, Wisconsin swept Michigan and Ohio State swept Michigan State. The Gophers and Nittany Lions played to a close, overtime thriller on Saturday and it may indicate that Penn State has a chance at winning the Big Ten tournament. Wisconsin beat Michigan easily on Friday but followed with a victory by a margin of two goals the next night.

The closest series was, oddly, the Ohio State-Michigan State series. The Buckeyes are supposed to be a good team but could only beat the Spartans by a goal in each game.

The Gophers, Nittany Lions and Buckeyes are currently on the inside of the Pairwise, but more on that below. The Gophers hold the No. 1 spot in the confernce

(After the jump: A Pairwise look, Ohio State things and bad Big Ten goaltending)

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Weekend Preview: Big Ten, Feb. 16

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

The biggest matchup of the weekend is the second series between Minnesota and Penn State. The games will be played at Penn State, giving the Nittany Lions a chance to prove if they can be a dominant team in the Big Ten this year.

The Badgers and Buckeyes should have an easy time this weekend, as Wisconsin faces Michigan and Ohio State faces Michigan State. Both the Wolverines and Spartans have struggled this year.

Here’s the Big Ten standings:

1. Minnesota (27)
2. Wisconsin (24)
3. Penn State (22)
4. Ohio State (17)
5. Michigan (10)
6. Michigan State (8)

Minnesota is fourth in the Pairwise, Penn State sixth, Ohio State 15th and Ohio State 21st.

The Buckeyes will be without Josh Healey for the weekend as he was, wait for it, suspended two games for a contact to the head major penalty and game misconduct on Feb. 11 against Minnesota. Guy Gadowksy told reporters this week that defenseman Kevin Kerr will be out this weekend.

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Three Things I Think: Big Ten, Feb. 12

Monday, February 13th, 2017

Another wild weekend produced another wild series of Pairwise flips. Penn State swept Wisconsin, Michigan State tied and beat Michigan and Minnesota and Ohio State split.

Penn State has moved back up to sixth in the Pairwise. Minnesota is fifth, Ohio State 15th and Wisconsin 21. The Gophers have the sole lead in the conference now and has a three-point lead over the Badgers. Penn State is five points out of first and Ohio State is 10 points out. The Buckeyes, though, are just seven points (so about three games) out of second.

(After the jump: Each game has wild PWR implications and Penn State is nearly a lock and Michigan may be the worst in the B1G)

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A look at the ECAC Stretch Run

Sunday, February 12th, 2017

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. (more…)

Weekend Preview: Big Ten, Feb. 9

Friday, February 10th, 2017

This weekend features two interesting series. The Badgers and Nittany Lions will face off as will the Gophers and Buckeyes. Those games will all have major Pairwise and Big Ten standing implications. The Michigan-Michigan State will also be interesting, but neither team has a chance at a top-two seed in the conference or the NCAA tournament.

Ohio State has been slipping badly in the Pairwise and a win would be huge for them. Meanwhile Penn State has a lot to prove this weekend.

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Three Things I Think: Big Ten, Feb. 6

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

Now that it’s February we can finally start taking stock in the Pairwise. That’s good if you’re Minnesota, not good if you’re Penn State. But we’ll get to that later. Both Minnesota and Wisconsin swept this weekend, which leaves both teams tied for the lead in the Big Ten standings. Meanwhile Michigan and Ohio State split in two odd, high-scoring games, meaning nothing has changed between those two teams since last year.

The tournament is still over a month away, but those No. 1 and No. 2 sports are crucial. A team can’t win the crown without the bye day.

(After the jump: Will Penn State make the NCAA tournament, Nick Schilkey is underrated and who’s better – Wisconsin or Minnesota?) (more…)

Weekend Preview: Big Ten, Feb. 3

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

The Wolverines and Buckeyes face off in another installment of the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry (I’ve been told it’s a big deal, but can’t confirm yet). The Spartans are playing Wisconsin, leaving the best matchup of the weekend the series between Minnesota and Penn State.

The Badgers are close to creeping inside the Pairwise bubble while Ohio State is sliding out, so the Buckeyes really can’t afford to lose to a struggling Michigan team. The Badgers and Gophers, bitter rivals till the end, are locked in a tie for first place. Penn State is third and Ohio State is fourth, but the Buckeyes aren’t too far out.

Ohio State captain Nick Schilkey still has not played since Jan. 14. I asked Steve Rohlik if there was an update on him after Saturday’s game and Rohlik said there was none. Tanner Laczynski returned, though, and Rohlik said he’s doing better.

Hobey Baker nominees were released this week. Grant Besse, Jake Bischoff, Peyton Jones, Justin Kloos, Luke Kunin, Nick Schilkey, Tyler Sheehy and Denis Smirnov were nominated. Penn State’s David Goodwin was also named a finalist for the Hockey Humanitarian award.

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Three Things I Think: ECAC 2/2

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

Heading into the final few weeks of the season, one has to wonder where the time has gone. Just four weeks are left in the regular season and it appears that the top three have, in a sense, pulled away from the pack. SLU picked up a huge win against Union to take the lead in the conference with 25 points, but the Dutchmen have two games in hand and  trail by just two points. Harvard is also hot on the heels of the leaders with 22 points and could pounce with any slip-ups above them. Also look out for Cornell, who still has games in hand on fourth place Quinnipiac, Harvard and SLU. The Big Red could find themselves higher with big wins in the coming weeks. Cornell travels to Union on Friday night for an 8:30 contest that will be shown live on ASN.

The ECAC seems to be going as normal with interesting, surprising results across the board. On Saturday, Dartmouth went to Lynah Rink and defeated Cornell. A few years back, the Big Green had a similar result at Lynah as it seems the Big Red sometimes overlooks them after playing Harvard. It is one Cornell needed to bolster its national and league standing, but just couldn’t muster much out of it. The last couple years, Cornell has had a February and early winter swoon.One must wonder if it is happening again…

Unless SLU continues its hot play or Cornell goes on a run, the ECAC is seemingly a two-bid league into the NCAA as per-usual. Union sits in a comfortable position of sixth, while Harvard is also a two seed in eighth in the pairwise. SLU is in 14th and on the outside looking in, but obviously leading the conference could lead to a bid if they so win the conference title in Lake Placid. The Big Red are in 17th after their sweep at the hands of Harvard and Dartmouth. Without further ado here are some thoughts on the league (more…)

Three Things I Think: Big Ten, Feb. 1

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

Another weekend of the season passed, bringing us closer to the end. The Gophers split the last-ever North Star College Cup, falling to Minnesota-Duluth 3-2 and beating Bemidji State 4-0. Penn State lost to Princeton, while Wisconsin swept Ohio State.

The Pairwise have shifted quite a bit. Unsurprisingly Penn State has dropped to fifth, while Ohio State has fallen to 16th. The Badgers are creeping up and now sit at 18. Minnesota is seventh. In the Big Ten Wisconsin now is tied for first place with Minnesota. Penn State is two points behind, while Ohio State is back by five points. It looks like Michigan and Michigan State, while not mathematically eliminated, most likely won’t get a bye.

Over the past few years the bye day has been huge because teams needed to win the tournament to get into NCAAs, but this year it looks like at least a couple teams will be high up enough for an at-large bid.

Tanner Laczynski returned for Ohio State but Nick Schilkey is still out. The Buckeyes have still been playing well, and it’s a testament to them they’ve won without their top scorer. Speaking of the Buckeyes, Josh Healey was suspended for Friday’s game against Michigan for making a hit he wasn’t supposed to on Saturday. In that game Grant Besse was also hurt and didn’t return. After the game Tony Granato said Besse was sore so the trainers didn’t want him to come back.

(After the jump The Badgers are on fire, Who’s going to make the NCAA tournament and Penn State is going to struggle)

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