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The Difference Between The Second And Third Seed In The Hockey East Tournament Great

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With just four regular season games to play, the Boston College Eagles find themselves in a second-place tie with the Merrimack Warriors in the Hockey East standings. The UNH Wildcats lead the way with 35 points, followed closely by the Eagles and Warriors with 33 points. With 31 points, Boston University has a five point lead over Maine for the fourth and final home ice spot in the Hockey East Quarterfinals.

The Eagles enter the final stretch of the season -- at UMass, UMass, New Hampshire, at New Hampshire -- ready to make their annual Hockey East playoff push. A quick glance at the Hockey East Standings, however, gives us Superfans reason to pause. 

2010-11 Hockey East Standings

(updated 2.20.2011)

Hockey East
1. New Hampshire Wildcats 23 16 4 3 35
2. Merrimack Warriors 23 15 5 3 33
2. Boston College Eagles 23 16 6 1 33
4. Boston University Terriers 23 13 5 5 31
5. Maine Black Bears 23 11 8 4 26
6. Northeastern Huskies 23 9 8 6 24
7. Massachusetts Minutemen 23 5 13 5 15
7. Vermont Catamounts 23 5 13 5 15
9. Providence Friars 23 3 14 6 12
10. UMass Lowell River Hawks 23 3 20 0 6

If the season ended today, BC would actually lose the head-to-head tiebreaker with Merrimack, given that the Eagles lost the regular season series 1-2-0. Currently awaiting the Hockey East Tournament's three seed? A familiar foe -- the Northeastern Huskies. 

Other than Merrimack, Northeastern is the only other school that BC failed to win this year's regular season series (1-1-1). And this past week, the Huskies' top three scorers teed off on BC's John Muse and Parker Milner. NU's Wade MacLeod scored 3 goals and added 3 assists in last week's three games against the Eagles. Brodie Reid (3-2-5) and Tyler McNeeley (2-3-5) each had five points, while Steve Silva tallied four assists.

Despite his 10-10-7 record, Northeastern goaltender Chris Rawlings might be the best in Hockey East. Rawlings .927 save percentage is tied for sixth best in the nation, and his 5 shutouts are one behind UNO's John Faulkner for the national lead.

The Huskies are red hot in 2011, having gone 8-3-3 since the calendar turned to January, and are definitely a team that a top-seeded Hockey East program would be best served avoiding in the Quarterfinals.

Contrast the Huskies with the UMass Minutemen or the Vermont Catamounts. UMass is winless in its last eight contests (0-6-2), and hasn't registered a win in nearly a month. The Minutemen's last win was over a Vermont team that, while playing better hockey than UMass of late, is just 2-8-1 away from Gutterson Fieldhouse in Hockey East play.

If the Huskies can't catch Maine for fifth place in the final Hockey East standings, they could very well make the Hockey East #3 seed's life fairly miserable in a best-of-three Quarterfinals series. The difference between Northeastern and UMass or Vermont is substantial, and hopefully BC can hold off Merrimack and/or catch New Hampshire and avoid facing the Huskies in the Quarterfinals round.