Northeastern managed to return to the .500 category and managed a sweep this weekend against Alabama-Huntsville. The wins weren’t statistically speaking anything to get hyped about. A 3-0 win and a 3-1 win that started off quite poorly for the Huskies. There were definitely a few good things from it:
-The Huskies managed power play goals in both games
-Michael McMurty continues to do well. McMurty is definitely a pleasant surprise, someone who wasn’t expected to play much but has really played hard and earned his spot.
-Ludwig Karlsson scored 3 goals. Karlsson had struggled for a while to score, but with 3 goals (including both PP goals), he’s made up for some lost ground. In addition, upperclassmen like Saponari, Ferriero, and Vermeersch all put up points.
So, Northeastern and most of Hockey East has now played roughly a quarter of the league games, and Northeastern is in a surprisingly decent position, given that they’ve only gotten 1 Hockey East point in the last month. Despite this, the Huskies sit at 6th place, and only have played 1 more game than most teams. So why is Northeastern where they are?
The real answer to NU’s 6th place lies in the failings of the lower 4 teams. UMass, Lowell, Vermont, and Maine all sit below NU, and have all played 6 games (with the exception of Lowell which has played 5). These teams have failed to do a whole lot so far. The most shocking is Maine, which was predicted to be a halfway decent team but has a 2-9-0 record with a negative 20 goal differential.
Digging deeper into the numbers, though, and you can see that Northeastern has decent, though not amazing numbers. NU is actually 3rd in team defense (so much for the untested blueline), and 7th in team offense (tied for 6th in total goals scored). Remember that atrocious power play? Well we’re amazingly above both Providence and Maine (which has an appalling 3.9% success rate!). After this last weekend we’re only a -2 on net special teams, which is surprising given how bad special teams have been so far.
The takeaway from this is that despite the rough last month (topped off by Darcy’s departure), Northeastern still is sitting in a relatively decent position, due in part to being an alright team and the lower 4 teams being far worse.
Going forward, Northeastern plays Providence and Vermont this upcoming weekend. These 2 games are crucial. A sweep would prove that Northeastern can make some noise and the early wins weren’t just a fluke, and help NU vault over Providence for 5th place.