We have a pretty clear top 4 in Hockey East right now... and, really, probably a pretty clear top 3, honestly. But how you rank those 3 is certainly very much up for debate. The national polls have Providence at #1 in the nation. UMass Lowell leads the Hockey East standings (though BC has games in hand). Our maybe just a bit biased poll has the Eagles at #1. Beyond the top 4, it's tough to stack the teams up. Here's what we've got...
#1 Boston College - 12-1-0, 5-0-0 HEA - 47 points, 3 first place votes - Last BCI poll: #1
There are still questions about how the defense will hold up when the schedule gets tougher, but it's hard to argue with the team that's #1 in the nation in both offense and defense right now, in addition to winning streak and goal margin.
#2 Providence - 9-0-3, 2-0-2 HEA - 44 points, 1 first place vote - Last BCI poll: #3
Providence vaults past Lowell in to #2 in our straw poll as Shep moves them in to first on his ballot... despite having BC in first place in the last poll and the fact that the Eagles haven't lost since. Nice logic, Shep. That said... the Friars haven't lost since the Hockey East quarterfinals in March (lol that that happened).
#3 Lowell - 10-1-4, 6-0-3 HEA - 41 points - Last BCI poll: #2
The newly minted #Belpot champions remain unbeaten in conference play thanks to some late heroics against Northeastern. Despite their strong record, they've had a few head-scratching results, such as Saturday's tie against Brown and a pair of ties against Merrimack in which UML was badly outshot.
#4 BU - 7-4-3, 3-2-2 HEA - 36 points - Last BCI poll: #4
The general prognostication at this point is that the top 3 look like solid tournament teams, whereas BU and maybe Notre Dame are on the next level of teams that could make it in. BU has had some solid results, particularly the pair of ties against Providence. They've retained their cardiac kids status from last year, rallying for yet another 3rd period comeback to force a tie against Cornell at Red Hot Hockey.
#5 Notre Dame - 6-4-4, 3-1-2 HEA - 32 points - Last BCI poll: #5
Like BU, Notre Dame looks like they're going to have their ups and their downs. They got flattened on home ice by Harvard on Friday night in a game that gave them a chance to show they belong among the national elite. They don't at this point, but they're pretty clearly above the next segment of the pack.
#6 Merrimack - 6-2-4, 2-1-4 HEA - 27 points - Last BCI poll: #6
Merrimack has started their descent down the polls earlier than usual after a loss to Union over the weekend. They're down to #16 nationally, but still rocking a pretty decent record.
#7 UNH - 4-6-3, 1-1-3 HEA - 23 points - Last BCI poll: #7
It says something about the state of this group of teams that "hey, they may have lost to RPI, but they bounced back with a one-goal win over Bentley" was good enough to keep the Wildcats above the teams that were just behind them in the poll.
#8 UMass - 6-5-4, 2-2-4 HEA - 22 points - Last BCI poll: #9
UMass keeps playing pretty well with a pair of tight losses against juggernaut Quinnipiac. Their six wins haven't exactly come against a murderer's row - they've beat UConn twice, Colorado College twice, Sacred Heart, and Maine, and are now 0-3-3 in their last six games. It's hard to see UMass climbing higher than 8th or so, but they've shown enough that they could be in the race to host an octofinal series rather than clearly bringing up the rear like we expected.
#9 Vermont - 3-9-2, 2-4-2 HEA - 13 points - Last BCI poll: #8
UVM is lucky NU is hogging the "Disappointment of the year" spotlight because this has been a pretty abysmal season for the Catamounts given the talent on the roster. Getting blasted by Penn State 4-0... yikes.
#10 Maine - 4-8-3, 2-4-0 HEA - 12 points - Last BCI poll: #12
Since we spent a week or so shredding them, Maine is undefeated (4-0-0). You're welcome for the reverse jinx. Love, Eastern Bias and BCI. On Saturday night against Princeton, Maine blew a late 2-0 lead but battled back to win in OT. #heart #grit #determination
#11 Northeastern - 2-11-2, 0-7-2 HEA - 10 points - Last BCI poll: #11
Some signs of life from NU in Belfast - they nearly stunned Lowell in their opener, then throttled Colgate in the consolation game. Will their confidence carry over in to the BC series?
#12 UConn - 3-10-0, 1-7-0 HEA - 5 points - Last BCI poll: #10
UConn's most recent win - and their only win in Hockey East play - came against BU. Go figure. #icebus gonna #icebus.
Individual Ballots - if you failed to submit a ballot, you picked UConn across the board.