After the bottom 2 teams, the predictions start getting a bit trickier. While there’s a clear bottom part of the league, from 8 on up the teams get more competitive, and with Hockey East so close all the time a few lucky breaks could vault a team higher, or drop them.
UMass hasn’t lost a lot, still keeping most of their defense and top scorers, but they have lost their top goalie, and will have to rely on relatively inexperienced goaltending. UMass needs to step it up both offensively and defensively however. They were 7th in goals scored and 9th in goals against. UMass also needs to meet expectations, despite big expectations for 2009-2010 they collapsed down the stretch and ended up 7th in Hockey East. Perhaps a lack of expectations will be helpful this time around.
If UMass is going to do better than 7th, they’ll need to tighten up defensively and get a solid goaltender fast. They’ll need their returning players to score more goals, and they’ll need to step up special teams (being 9th on the PP and PK).
The lower spots of Hockey East look incredibly fluid, and it seems quite possible that UMass could very well surge and end up higher than 8th, but all things considered, they will most likely be on the lower end of the totem pole.