With the season half over, and hockey starting back up this weekend, it’s time to take a look at how the Hockey East teams stand. This takes into account both expectations of these teams, their current standings, and how they got there:
1. Boston College. Pretty clear favorite, they keep chugging along every year. They sit atop the standings, and have been playing pretty well. They’ll have some interesting situations going forward, the big one being a new goalie battle, as Milner has been unimpressive and Brian Billett has stepped it up and has played a number of recent games.
2. Merrimack. They were undefeated for most of the first half, and while they’ve stumbled a bit of late, they’re still in a strong position. The second half will be rough, as after the holiday tournament there’s not a lot of weak opponents left.,
3. UMass Lowell. They came out of the gate with a pair of wins, stumbled a bit, but then shot forward and never looked back. They’ve played solid defense, have great goaltending, and after their dismantling of RPI (admittedly not that hard this year), they show no signs of letting up.
4. Boston University. Here’s the biggest question mark of all. Where do they go from here? They sit at #2 in Hockey East, have gotten impressive wins, but losing two top scorers cannot be good. Do they keep advancing, building off the adversity, or do they become disjointed at the loss of these solid players?
5. Providence. One of the big turnaround stories. While the second half has yet to be played, I think it’s fair to say they’ll likely be back in the Hockey East playoffs this year. I wouldn’t be surprised to see their stock drop a bit more as they have a tough second half, but they’ve been solid so far.
6. Northeastern. After a horrible start, they’ve really turned it around. They still have a lot of deficiencies, but I think it’s clear there has been a righting of the ship and a turnaround.
7. Maine. They are a middling team, who haven’t done well at all against any strong team (except maybe Providence). Wins against teams like Clarkson, Vermont, and a weak Northeastern don’t do much to build a case that they’re a good team, and losses to UML, BU, BC, MC, and UNH have hurt them in the standings.
8. New Hampshire. Definitely the biggest shock of all. They have terrible goaltending, a very weak and inexperienced defensive corp, and scoring hasn’t stepped up to help.
9. Massachusetts. UMass is a very erratic team. They just beat a top Cornell team, then lose to New Hampshire. They’ve been inconsistent, which really hurts them. They can certainly make a surge, but for now they’re near the bottom of the rankings.
10. Vermont. They just suck, they’re the last in all statistics, and can’t seem to do anything to improve.