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Boston College Hockey Gears Up For Stretch Run

With just seven regular season Hockey East games remaining, the Eagles find themselves tied with Boston University atop the Hockey East league standings. But with the three Beanpot schools playing more games than the rest of the conference up until this point, it's hard to figure out who's where in Hockey East with all the games in hand. Inspired by an Oilers blog that does this for the NHL (and as seen on mgoblog), here is the current Hockey East standings presented baseball-style:

Rk Program GP W L T Pts. GB
1 Boston University Terriers 19 12 6 1 25 --
1 Merrimack Warriors 17 10 4 3 21 --
3 Boston College Eagles 20 12 7 1 25 0.5
3 UMass Lowell River Hawks 17 11 6 0 22 0.5
5 Maine Black Bears 20 11 7 2 24 1
6 Providence Friars 17 8 9 1 17 3.5
7 Massachusetts Minutemen 17 5 8 4 14 4.5
8 Northeastern Huskies 19 6 11 2 14 5.5
8 New Hampshire Wildcats 18 6 11 1 13 5.5
10 Vermont Catamounts 18 2 15 1 5 9.5

BC's weekend sweep of UNH really helped improve the Eagles standings both in Hockey East and in the PairWise. BC is back up to 5th in the PWR in a three-way tie with Merrimack and Ohio State. Boston University and UMass Lowell are currently two of the top four teams in the nation in terms of the PairWise, which, if this holds, could be problematic for the Eagles chances of staying close to home come tournament time.

As you can see, while Merrimack is only in fourth place in the current standings, it has two games in hand with BU and three with both BC and Maine, which puts them tied with BU atop the league's top-heavy league table.

The rest: BC has now completed its regular season series with BU (1-2-0), Maine (1-2-0), Massachusetts (1-2-0), UMass Lowell (2-1-0), New Hampshire (3-0-0) and Northeastern (3-0-0), and has three games remaining with Vermont, two with PC and two with Merrimack. Considering the fact that Vermont has all of two wins in 18 Hockey East games this season -- an overtime winner over Lowell and a one-goal victory over UMass, both at home -- capturing six points against the Catamounts is an absolute must at this stage in the game.

Same story with a home-and-home with Providence, where four points are required. A good showing in the Eagles' home-and-home with Merrimack will improve both the Eagles' HEA standing as well as BC's tournament seeding. However, with five of seven games remaining against teams not even in the PWR Top 30, Boston College will more easily improve their HEA standings, making a run at the Hockey East Tournament's top seed, over improving their standing in the PairWise.

Here's what the top five programs in Hockey East have left (games remaining in parenthesis):

Boston College (7) -- 2 vs. Merrimack, 2 vs. Providence, 3 vs. Vermont
Boston University (8) -- 1 vs. UMass, 2 vs. Lowell, 1 vs. Merrimack, 2 vs. Northeastern, 2 vs. Vermont
Maine (7) -- 2 vs. UMass, 1 vs. Lowell, 1 vs. UNH, 2 vs. Northeastern, 1 vs. Providence
UMass Lowell (10) -- 2 vs. Boston University, 1 vs. Maine, 3 vs. Merrimack, 2 vs. Providence, 2 vs. Vermont
Merrimack (10) -- 2 vs. Boston College, 1 vs. Boston University, 3 vs. UMass, 3 vs. Lowell, 1 vs. New Hampshire

While there is still a lot of hockey left to be played, there are only nine more games between teams in the top five -- BC vs. MC, BC @ MC, BU vs. UML, BU @ UML, BU @ MC, ME @ UML and all three between MC and UML.

The Eagles have the fewest games remaining of the top five programs in Hockey East (along with Maine), but you have to like BC's chances with the schedule remaining. Ten to 12 points are required the rest of the way, lest the Eagles end up in a tight race for home ice for the Hockey East quarterfinals.