Hockey East Tournament Playoff Picture: Little Settled With One Weekend To Go

Matt Dresens/The BU Hockey Blog

Where will the Eagles finish? Who does BC draw in the first round of the Hockey East Tournament?

We went into the weekend with four teams tied for first, Merrimack one point back in 5th and Boston University two points back in sixth. Craziness. After BC and BU split their weekend series with Providence and Vermont, respectively, and New Hampshire managed three points against 9th place UMass, the race for the Hockey East regular season title and home ice will come down to the final weekend. Well, that and this afternoon's matchup between Lowell and Merrimack.

Let's take a look at the standings:

Rk. Team GP W L T Pts. Max PS Remaining Opponents
1 New Hampshire Wildcats 25 13 7 5 31 35 1-6 Maine x2
2 UMass Lowell River Hawks 24 14 8 2 30 36 1-6 PC, @ PC
2 Boston College Eagles 25 14 9 2 30 34 1-6 @ UVM x2
2 Providence Friars 25 12 7 6 30 34 1-6 @ UML, UML
5 Boston University Terriers 25 13 10 2 28 32 1-6 @ NU, NU
6 Merrimack Warriors 24 12 9 3 27 33 1-6 UMA, @ UMA
7 Vermont Catamounts 25 8 12 5 21 25 7-9 BC x2
8 Maine Black Bears 25 6 12 7 19 23 7-9 @ UNH x2
9 Massachusetts Minutemen 25 8 15 2 18 22 7-10 @ MC, MC
10 Northeastern Huskies 25 5 16 4 14 18 9-10 BU, @ BU

The only thing settled here with one weekend to go is that the Northeastern Huskies have been eliminated from the Hockey East Tournament. That leaves six teams all with a shot of taking the regular season title -- all who have clinched a spot in the playoffs -- and three teams vying for the final two quarterfinals spots. I honestly can't remember a Hockey East regular season title race this close heading into the final weekend of play since I started following the Eagles.

Here's how the Hockey East Tournament would look if the season ended today:

1 New Hampshire vs. 8 Maine (UNH leads 1-0-0)
2 Boston College vs. 7 Vermont (BC leads 1-0-0)
3 UMass Lowell vs. 6 Merrimack (Series tied 1-1-0)
4 Providence vs. 5 Boston University (BU won 2-0-1)

Some thoughts:

-- Right now, BC holds the tiebreaker over both Lowell and Providence by virtue of head-to-head results among the tied teams. BC would be 3-2-1 against PC and Lowell. Lowell is 2-2-0 and PC is 1-2-1. If the season ended today, Boston College would be the no. 2 seed, Lowell the no. 3 and Providence the no. 4. However, Lowell and PC end the regular season against one another so this tiebreaker could swing in Lowell's favor before it's all said and done. But going into the final weekend of the regular season, BC is in a good position to earn the tiebreaker over either Lowell or Providence or both.

-- Clearly with the way BC has been playing of late, they can't sleep on the Catamounts this coming weekend. Vermont is coming off a weekend series split with the Terriers at Agganis. Vermont is also playing for a spot in the postseason. UVM nearly has a spot in the Hockey East Quarterfinals locked up, but there's still the very slim chance that both Maine and UMass jump the Catamounts and bump them out of the Hockey East Tournament. Combine this with UVM's Senior night on Saturday and the Catamounts still have a lot to play for next weekend.

Best guess as to how the final weekend of the season plays out:

I'd say New Hampshire takes the Hockey East regular season title and the no. 1 seed. The Wildcats have the easier draw next weekend and I can see them taking four points from Maine. Lowell is the hottest team in the conference right now, powered by freshman goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (12-0-0 in his last 12 starts, 1.45 GAA, .945 SV%). The River Hawks beat Merrimack later this afternoon but split next weekend with PC (Providence has been playing as well as Lowell has been playing lately). Boston College gets three points vs. Vermont up in Burlington. Boston University sweeps Northeastern, which has nothing left to play for, and Merrimack sweeps UMass.

1. New Hampshire -- 35 points
2. UMass Lowell -- 34
3. Boston College -- 33
4. Boston University -- 32
5. Providence -- 32
6. Merrimack -- 31
7. Vermont -- 22
8. Maine -- 19

Hockey East Quarterfinals:

1 New Hampshire vs. 8 Maine (UNH leads 1-0-0)
2 UMass Lowell vs. 7 Vermont (UML won 2-0-1)
3 Boston College vs. 6 Merrimack (BC won 2-1-0)
4 Boston University vs. 5 Providence (BU won 2-0-1)

Which teams are you looking to avoid in the Hockey East quarterfinals? What seed does BC earn for the Hockey East Tournament?

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