Hockey Banter, Week XXII: Hockey East Predictions

via Graham Beck, BC Heights Sports

In our last regular season Banter of the year, we make some predictions on how Hockey East will shake out and look ahead to our two games against Vermont.

Joseph Gravellese: So, Grant -- do you have any good news for me unrelated to saving money on my car insurance?

Grant Salzano: Well, if this weekend is a total shitshow, I won't have to watch it because I'll be on a plane to London on Friday and hanging out in a pub on Saturday.

JG: It shouldn't be, though -- right? We are going to take three points at least against Vermont.

Right?

GS: Seriously, the fact that we should be closer to a full squad this weekend is encouraging for how bad last week was. And that loss to PC was really, really bad. So bad it's hard to believe we split a good team.

I don't know if it's because it's Vermont or what (probably), but I have to imagine we take four points. I don't think this is going to be a bad weekend.

JG: That really was a crazy and unfortunate scene at Conte Forum on Saturday. We had Linell playing defense, the entire roster down to the last drop out there up front, Smith on the first line...I'm pretty sure by game's end they had Haley Skarupa skating on the third line.

GS: If we had Haley Skarupa on the third line we would have at least pulled out a tie.

I don't even know what kind of analysis you can give from that game it was so ridiculous. What can you take from a game where your hottest player and only senior blueliner are out, on top of Hayes and Patches and everything else that's been going on?

It's awful hard to get the team into a flow when you're forced to change lines three times per weekend. That probably had something to do with the lack of crisp passes Saturday. It was terrible.

JG: And now Silk is out for Friday night. As a public service to the BCI readership....who is even dressing for the Eagles in this one?

GS: Well I'm running under the assumption that Wey and Whit will both be back. According to The Kid, Whit is questionable and participated in a limited capacity in practice this week, and Wey seemed like a go.

And apparently Patch Alber has a very serious shot of returning for the Hockey East quarterfinals, whose experience should seriously make a big difference in front of Milner.

JG: That would be pretty remarkable given the timeframes we had initially heard. I'm thinking based on what I read about Whitney that I wouldn't bank on him being back Friday night. But we shall see.

GS: Time for Gaudreau to geau?

JG: Well, it's becoming a weekly theme now. There's not too much more to say other than that we know he has it in him. And "now" is always the best time to start.

GS: First round of Hobey voting is very soon. I don't think he is going to have any issue being Final Ten, but he needs to put together a closing statement to take the hardware. It's getting dangerously close to Too Late. We aren't there yet, but getting close.

Swami Grant says in one if the games he gets a goal and an assist. I dreamed about it. Though I also dreamed we got swept by Maine again... hopefully that was just a nightmare about a few weeks ago and I'm not a week ahead of myself...

JG: .......................bite your tongue.

The Hockey East picture going into the final weekend is simply absurd. The only thing we really know for sure is that Northeastern is out again. Lulz

Other than that, everything is up for grabs. Have you ever seen anything like this?

GS: Never. I can't even really think of a parallel. How do you think things shake out in the end?

JG: Well, let's Break It Down (TM)

ML - 32 - PC, @PC
NH - 31 - ME, ME
BC - 30 - @VM, @VM
PC - 30 - @UML, UML
BU - 28 - @NU, NU
MC - 27 - mass, @mass
VM - 21 - BC, BC
ME - 19 - @NH, @NH
MA - 18 - @MC, MC
NU - irrelevant

Going down the line:

Lowell is playing some of the best hockey in the nation right now and it's hard to see them losing. But Providence has been tough, too. Gillies is an animal. I think they squeeze out a point at home on Saturday and Lowell ends up with three points on the weekend.

UNH-Maine is tough to predict with the rivalry factor but I see UNH sweeping that series at home.

As for BC, it might be better that we are away - our home record in 2013 is awful, something we should discuss further later in this conversation. That being said, with all the attrition I'm going to go MEDIUMNAN and say a 3 point weekend.

I'd already said, 1 point for PC.

BU and NU will split, I think. BU is playing a little better than they were when they were in Full Suck mode but NU has a way of playing their best when it doesn't matter.

Mack-UMass is an intriguing series with lots on the line. Picking a split w/MC winning at home is a copout but a good one based on available evidence.

1 point for UVM, 0 for Maine, 2 for Umass, lol for Northeastern. That leaves us with:

UNH & Lowell splitting the regular season crown, with UNH the #1 seed thanks to head to head record;
BC in third and gearing up for a battle with #6 Merrimack in the quarterfinals;
PC edging out BU for home ice in the 4-5 aseries;
and UMass and Vermont heading to UNH and Lowell, respectively, to round out the playoffs.

It should be noted that a Hockey East regular season crown would be Lowell's first ever hardware in D1 hockey not counting holiday tournaments.

GS: That's all pretty reasonable. Here's how I see it:

I'd love to see Lowell lose one, and PC is a good team... but I'm in full-on "Lowell Is Legit" mode. UML sweeps.

UNH seems to be an easy sweep pick but I'm going with the split. They've been almost as average as us lately.

BC is going to sweep Vermont. I feel confident about this one.

I agree with everything you said about BU/NU. Split there.

And I agree with the Mack/UMass split.

That leaves me with:

#8 Maine @ #1 UML
#7 Vermont @ #2 BC
#6 Mack @ #3 UNH
#5 PC @ #4 BU
UMass out by just one point
and lol NU.

JG: Playing Merrimack vs playing Vermont would be a huge difference for the quarterfinals...

GS: Absolutely. Being top 2 is going to be a big deal. Being 3-4 as well for home ice.

Basically we have a great playoff setup. It'd be really dumb to change that next yearAW AWWW

JG: Yeah. If this were next year it would be NOT EXCITING AT ALL. Oh well.

Speaking of home ice...why do we suck at home right now?

GS: Because we suck right now.

And have played a lot of our games at home.

JG: Ha. That is reasonable. What is our home/road/neutral record split in calendar year 2013?

GS: Home: 2-5-2
Road: 3-2-0
Neutral: 2-0-0 #Be4npot

The record is worse at home, but I still think it's just a matter of us struggling in general.

JG: Reasonable. Still, it's been odd, after BC turned their home rink into Fortress Conte in 2011 and 2012. I think they had a total of maybe four losses at home combined between those two years.

GS: If so, they were all in 2011. I believe we were undefeated at Conte in calendar year 2012.

JG: It's frustrating. But hopefully they wrap up the season at Conte with a couple of wins.

GS: The women's team took care of business -- so to speak -- in their Hockey East quarterfinal against hapless Maine. That was... nuts.

JG: Incredibly frustrating. But wildly entertaining. Give our friends who missed it the run down.

GS: For a full breakdown check out our game recap from last week -- but the story of the game was the ridiculous shot totals... 35 in the third period alone, and 74 in the game. Just nuts. Thank God we pulled out the win in overtime because that would have been unforgivable.

So now we get NU again in a rematch of the Beanpot finals. Think we can take care of business this time?

JG: Well, maybe. We're not really playing our best hockey right now. I'm worried we maybe peaked a little too early. But on paper, BC should win.

GS: I'm not all that concerned about the gameplay. We are still dominating our opponents on the shot charts like we have all season. Just on a bit of a cold streak on hitting the back of the net, which will change.

I also think we're starting to see a healthier Skarupa from her injury a month or two back. That's going to make a big difference.

Until something drastically changes BC is a heavy favorite against anyone else not wearing maroon and gold.

JG: I'd be all excited to watch this weekend's games... if they weren't in Hyannis.

One last quick hit based on something we discussed on Twitter over the weekend:

Who do you consider Rivals #2-5 for BC hockey?

I think Maine-UNH make for a clear #2/3. Pick the order you want. But then it gets fuzzy. I think I'm going with Notre Dame & North Dakota.

GS: Oooooh good question. I'm going to enlist my wife for her opinion on this...

She says: 2) UNH, 3) UMass, 4) NU, 5) Maine

I would have to agree with putting NU on the list somewhere.

To me I would go 2) UNH, 3) Maine, 4) NU, 5) Notre Dame. It would have been North Dakota in 5th if you had asked me a couple years ago though.

JG: Fair. Yeah, North Dakota was a hell of a rivalry when we were playing them every year in the tournament. Hopefully that one gets rekindled in the next few years as we start to play them more often.

I would also like to see us develop a nasty rivalry with Wisconsin, because screw them.

GS: Oh absolutely. Honestly with the scheduling deal with the Gophers I think that one might start to get nasty. The good kind of nasty.

JG: It should be fun. As should this weekend. Go Eagles.

GS: Go Eagles. And Geau Johnny (for the love of God, please...)

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