Before the Hockey East season began, there were three teams that stuck out as teams that most viewers felt would rise to the top of the league: Boston College, Merrimack College, and Boston University.
Now approximately three months into the college hockey season, all three teams are in the mix, but two surprising additions have made noise in Hockey East: Providence College and UMass Lowell. As of the morning of December 10th, here are your league standings (from the Hockey East official website):
Standings are standings – they lack an ability to rank how quality the wins are against each other. After Lowell defeated Boston College 3-2 Friday night, I woke up insanely early Saturday morning with an idea. Using the spirit of the KRACH and Pairwise rankings, why not evaluate these top five teams by their records against each other? So I created a spreadsheet. (Never mind that I should be finishing holiday shopping or doing holiday cards. I have a whole college hockey free week ahead to do that.)
After I put this together, I realized that the five top Hockey East teams have not played enough games against each other for this to be an entirely useful evaluation. And then my husband pointed out that there is already a head-to-head comparison on the Hockey East website – it’s just at the bottom of the standings page.
Well, duh. I knew that. I was just…cutting the fat and pairing down that chart. Right? Right. (Mind you, I also whacked my head pretty hard Friday, so I blame that for me not remembering that the head-to-head exists.)
So what exactly does this comparison show, if anything? For one, it shows how few in-conference games Merrimack has played so far, and in the three games they have played against the top of the conference, they have a losing record. This also helps give Providence a bigger argument for being considered a bigger threat than UMass Lowell. While Lowell has won a few “loud” games (stand alone games – non weekend series games – against BU and BC), they haven’t faced anyone else among this top five, and have only played ten league games total.
It also shows how many more league games the Beanpot schools play earlier on in the season. In addition to the totals above for BC and BU, Northeastern has played 12 league games as of Saturday morning. The only other Hockey East team to play that many league games? New Hampshire, who also played 12.