Here's the situation for Boston College, following a fairly disappointing weekend split with Vermont: despite adding a loss, the Eagles remain in a pretty decent Pairwise position, sitting in 11th (technically, a 3-way tie for 10th, but #2 in the tiebreaker among those three teams). However, the gap between them and the teams immediately behind them has narrowed enough that another bad weekend will put BC in jeopardy.
Providence, Minnesota, Yale, and Harvard, teams 12-15 in the Pairwise, are all breathing right down BC's neck and could easily jump BC with one positive weekend compared to the Eagles. While these are all technically "in," you want to be up the board a little bit in case of autobids in conference tournaments. In order to really feel safe you'll want to at least stay in the top 13—with how much parity there is this season, it wouldn't be surprising at all to see a number of teams creep into the picture.
The good news from a BC perspective is that some of the teams just on the wrong side of the bubble—including #17 UMass-Lowell—are far enough behind them that a one-game swing (BC win combined with their loss) might be enough to just about sew up BC finishing ahead of that team.
That's one of the many things at stake this weekend when the Eagles welcome the Riverhawks to Conte Forum for Senior Night on Friday night—BC's only game of the weekend.
UMass-Lowell snapped out of their recent slump with a 7-1 win over UMass-Amherst on Valentine's Day, giving Lowell some hope after a bad two months plunged them from the top of Hockey East to a team clinging to NCAA tournament hopes. Lowell is 3-7-1 in their last 11 games, which saw their once-soaring offense cool off a bit, and uncharacteristic shaky defense start to rear its head. With the team so reliant on freshmen and sophomores, was Lowell hitting a wall?
Maybe. It's hard to read too much into the win over a very bad UMass team (although it did come on the heels of a tie and a loss to those same Minutemen in the two pervious games). The real sign for Lowell and their hopes will be how they play on Friday night, and there's no doubt that BC is going to be facing a desperate, hard working team. Will the Eagles rise to the occasion? For the early part of 2015, a high compete level has defined BC and helped boost the Eagles back into tournament contention, but the last few weeks have been shaky and uneven. Jerry York and the coaching staff will be looking for a full 60 minute effort on Friday, similar to what we saw the Eagles put in against Providence at home on the last weekend of January.
If BC can do that, they'll likely cement themselves above Lowell and a few other teams, barring a complete collapse, strengthening their tournament hopes. They'll also help secure their grasp on second place in the Hockey East standings, and potentially keep alive a faint hope of catching BU for first, with the Terriers holding a four point edge and a game in hand.
We'll be here to cover it all week, including a Q&A on Lowell hockey, the weekly hockey banter, a link to this week's Eastern Bias podcast, and more coverage as we get ready for yet another huge night of hockey on the Heights.