There are just two weeks left in the Big Ten regular season. A couple of Pairwise spots are still up for grabs, along with the first two conference spots. Ohio State is playing Michigan State and Minnesota is playing Michigan, and that should result in sweeps for the Buckeyes and Gophers. The Penn State-Wisconsin series is the only question mark, but two wins would be huge for a Wisconsin team close to making the tournament.
The final regular season weekend in the NCHC begins tomorrow night, with all eight teams in action:
|Minnesota-Duluth||at||Western Michigan||7:05 ET|
|North Dakota||at||Miami||7:35 ET|
|Colorado College||at||St. Cloud State||7:37 CT|
… and there’s plenty on the line. A quick look at the most notable items:
Regular season title: The Penrose Cup
Denver looks for its first regular season title since its WCHA title in 2009-10 this weekend, and the Pioneers can clinch their first Penrose Cup as NCHC regular season champs with a win at Nebraska-Omaha tomorrow (or with a Minnesota-Duluth loss at Western Michigan). The Bulldogs are the only other team in play for the regular season title (and therefore the No. 1 seed in the NCHC tournament) but trail Denver by four points heading into the weekend.
We won’t get into all the tiebreaker scenarios (you can work through them using the rules here), but here’s a look at things from the UMD perspective. Basically, UMD needs either 5 or 6 points this weekend to have any chance at all (reminder: NCHC regular season games go to a 3×3 OT and then if necessary a shootout if the game is still tied after regulation and a 5 minute 5×5 OT; 3 points in the NCHC are given for a regulation or 5×5 OT win, 2 points are given for a win in the 3×3 OT or shootout, and 1 point is given for a loss in the 3×3 OT or a loss in the shootout).
So if UMD earns 5 points in the standings, Denver must lose each game in regulation or within the 5×5 OT.
If UMD earns 6 points in the standings, it only wins the regular season title if Denver earns less than 3 points this weekend. The most interesting scenario would be as follows:
– UMD earns a 6 point sweep, while Denver earns only 2 points (say, a shootout win combined with a regulation loss). In that scenario, each team finishes with 55 points. The first tiebreaker in this scenario — head-to-head record — does not apply here because it only applies when the teams have played a balanced home-and-away schedule (in this case, Denver only placed UMD at home, and they split the weekend series). The second tiebreaker is regular season NCHC regulation + OT wins, and the teams would be tied here (16 apiece).
The next tiebreaker comes back to head-to-head, which again was 1-1, so we go to the fourth tiebreaker: comparison of goals scored. In the weekend series, UMD outscored Denver 6-5, so the Bulldogs would win the Penrose and be the No. 1 seed in the NCHC tourney as a result. The 6th goal for UMD that weekend was an empty-netter at the end of the Saturday night game.
Fun to talk about these things, but the reality is that Denver — the No. 1 team in the Pairwise — is clearly in the driver’s seat heading into the final NCHC regular season.
Denver and UMD will be the top two seeds in the NCHC tournament, and Western Michigan is locked in to No. 3. North Dakota, Nebraska-Omaha, and St. Cloud State, meanwhile, are all in the hunt for the No. 4 seed — and therefore the final home-ice spot for the NCHC quarterfinals next weekend. The three teams are currently separated by a single point, and it’s certainly possible that the tiebreakers above will come into play.
On paper, St. Cloud State may have the “easiest” schedule with a home series vs Colorado College, but the Huskies have also lost three of their last five.
North Dakota heads to Miami. The Fighting Hawks and Red Hawks split a weekend series in Grand Forks, N.D, earlier this season.
Points and Goals
A look at the players in the hunt heading into the final weekend, courtesy of collegehockeystats.net
|Alex Iafallo||Minnesota Duluth||SR||W||22||1.23||10-17-27|
|5||Mikey Eyssimont||St. Cloud State||SO||F||22||1.00||11-11-22|
Ortega and Iafallo have both been on fire lately, but Iafallo may have the edge this weekend, only because — despite Ortega’s 7 points in his last 3 games — UNO has to face the top goaltender in the conference, the stingy Tanner Jaillet.
And not even on this list is Shane Gersich, who’s got the pole position for the goal-scoring title. The UND sophomore has 14 goals this season, two more than second-place Matheson Iacopelli (WMU).
Finally, among defensemen and rookies, respectively:
|3||Neal Pionk||Minnesota Duluth||SO||D||22||0.82||4-14-18|
|1||Joey Anderson||Minnesota Duluth||F||21||0.76||7- 9-16|
|2||Henrik Borgström||Denver||F||18||0.83||8- 7-15|
|3||Tyson Jost||North Dakota||F||16||0.88||6- 8-14|
With another weekend completed there are just a few contests separating these teams from the Big Ten tournament. Unlike over the past couple of years, the Big Ten tournament won’t be the only path to the NCAA tournament. Minnesota and Penn State are pretty much a lock for the NCAA tournament, while Wisconsin is 13th and Ohio State is listed as 15th but would technically be 14th if the season ended today, because St. Cloud State – the 14th team – is under .500. Anyway, that means there’s a lot of fun Pairwise stuff to watch as the season winds down.
Nothing exciting happened again last week, except that Michigan won a 1-0 game against Ohio State. Although it’s strange it was only 1-0 – when’s the last team those two teams combined for just one goal? But it looks like the lost hasn’t actually ruined Ohio State’s at-large bid chances yet. Penn State swept Michigan State and Minnesota and Wisconsin split. So basically we saw more of the same.
(After the jump: Who’ll win,, Mason Jobst and Minnesota’s coming together)
The Gophers close out their season with a couple of easy matches against Michigan and Michigan State, so I stand by my preseason prediction that the Gophers will at least win the regular season and lock up the No. 1 spot. Their main competition right now is Wisconsin, but the Badgers have to face both Penn State and Ohio State. While That’s a much tougher slate than what Minnesota has left, and last time the Badgers couldn’t beat the Nittany Lions.
Now, there’s more than just a regular-season championship at stake. The top of the Big Ten standings are pretty tight, with just 10 points separating Minnesota, Wisconsin, Penn State and Ohio State. With three points on the line for each game, that leaves 12 points available now until the end of the season. The bye day means the most for Wisconsin and Ohio State, since their only path may be through the automatic bid.
Mason Jobst gets little fanfare, but the sophomore forward is really good, and he has 42 points this year. That ranks 12th in the country and second in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes in general have an underrated offense and Jobst is the leader of that. He’s a small player but extremely impactful.
Minnesota’s Coming Together
The Gophers always start the season struggling, but that has a lot to do with their tough non-conference competition. This year it seems like Minnesota has started to put it together as the season continued, and the Gophers are almost a lock for the Big Ten regular-season title. They’re also the most likely team who can win two games in a row.
This wouldn’t be the first time Minnesota has won a Big Ten tournament and not been a great team (see 2015) but things seem different for the Gophers this year. Their goaltending might not be strong, but don’t pass on their offense – Tyler Sheehy’s 48 points rank eighth in the country.
This is the last weekend of play for most conferences, but the Big Ten has a couple more weeks left in its regular season. The border battle resumes, Penn State plays Michigan State and the Buckeye-Wolverine rivalry will resume.
The series to keep an eye on is really Ohio State-Michigan. The Buckeyes are currently “in” the NCAA tournament, and should easily beat Michigan. But the teams split last time and the loss was enough to knock Ohio State out temporarily. If the Buckeyes lose again, that might doom their NCAA chances permanently.
Right now the Gophers are almost a lock for the NCAA tournament. Penn State has a high chance of making it, but the outlook isn’t as great for the Badgers and Buckeyes.
The Minnesota-Wisconsin series will be interesting in the Big Ten standings, since only three points separate the two teams. And Penn State and Ohio State aren’t far behind, so either one of those teams could sneak into a top-two spot depedning on the outcome of the Badgers-Gopher series.
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… Read the rest of this entry »
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)
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.
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)
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. Read the rest of this entry »
Believe it or not, the final weekend of the regular season will be upon us in just two weeks. For the rest of the season, we’ll take a weekly look at remaining strength of schedule, and how it could affect the final Hockey East standings. To do this, we’ll use a team’s individual KRACH rating, alongside an average of the KRACH rating, per game, of their remaining opponents.