It was an interesting first weekend of following the ups and downs of The Hockey East Power Index, the league’s (for some reason) proprietary calculation weighing teams’ records and strength of schedule to seed the upcoming Hockey East tournament.
Boston College took a narrow lead over Boston University into the weekend. On Friday night, BC won over HEPI #7 Lowell, and BU won over HEPI #11 Vermont, and at the end of all that, BU moved past BC and took over the top spot.
Why? Well, Hockey East won’t tell us, but a reasonable guess is that road wins are particularly important (BU’s Friday win was on the road), and BC’s strength of schedule may have taken a hit with UConn - a team that BC has faced four times - losing.
On Saturday night, BC and BU both won again - but this time, the Eagles moved past BU to go to the top of the rankings. BC now leads by .12 points, which I assume is not many points, but again... who knows.
It’s clear that home/away split and strength of schedule will play a significant role in determining seeding. And beyond seeding, being #1 in HEPI will earn a program the Hockey East regular season trophy and home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs, now that the tournament has been moved to campus sites.
Since the Hockey East schedule is being determined week-to-week anyway, and is going to end up being wildly unbalanced no matter what, Hockey East should see to it that BC and BU play again over the course of the regular season’s final three weekends. Otherwise, there’s a pretty good chance that the ability to host the Hockey East tournament will be largely determined by luck of the draw of who gets a slightly stronger strength of schedule down the stretch.
To take it a step further, UMass is the other team bunched up near the top - so the league could (and should) set it up for UMass, BC, and BU to all get a crack at one another down the stretch, assuming all stay out of COVID protocols and are able to play.
No matter what happens in the final weeks of the season, the schedule can’t possibly be ‘fair.’ There are still 5 teams that BU hasn’t played at all - UConn, Lowell, Northeastern, Merrimack, and New Hampshire. So they’re not going to get to everybody. And that’s fine -we all understand the challenges the league is facing in putting together this year’s schedule.
With that all understood, why not end the regular season with BC and BU playing for the top spot on the ice?
This season’s scheduling already has a little bit of a WWE element to it - who can play this week? okay, let’s go - so Hockey East should lean in and let the top teams in the standings battle it out.