The regular season comes to a close this weekend as the Huskies host the Maine
Panthers Black Bears and newly extended head coach Red Gendron for two at Historic Matthews Arena. This series doesn’t really mean a whole lot for Northeastern who’s already locked into the sixth spot in the Hockey East tournament, but let’s take a look at what we have.
Maine is not good. They’re currently tied with UConn for second to last in Hockey East. While their goaltending and defense have been bad (team save percentage of .904, 3.24 goals against per game), it’s the offense that is truly noteworthy for the Black Bears. Maine is dead last in the conference in scoring offense, averaging under two goals per game. The closest team to them, Vermont, is an over ten percent increase in scoring away. The special teams aren’t helping things either. Their powerplay is converting at the second worst rate in Hockey East, and they’ve given up the second highest amount of goals on the penalty kill. Maine also has a fun tendency to allow teams to score late in games, giving up the highest total of third period goals in the conference. Things could be better up in Orono.
As has been well documented, Northeastern has been cruising. They should have no trouble against Maine at home. While the Huskies are locked in to the sixth spot in the tournament, there are some implications of this game. Maine, UConn, Merrimack, and UNH are all possible first round opponents. If Northeastern sweeps Maine, they’ll stay in the eleventh spot and play the Huskies again. If Maine can get a point and UNH sweeps UConn, UConn will fall to eleventh. If Maine gets two against Northeastern and Merrimack is swept, they could fall to eleventh. UNH falling to eleventh is a distant possibility if they’re swept by UConn, Maine gets three points, and Merrimack gets two. Also, there’s the distant, but still existing, possibility of an NCAA tournament appearance! Even though the Huskies’ place is set, there are things riding on this game for them.
2/20/15: Northeastern 6, Maine 4
2/21/15: Northeastern 3, Maine 6
Well thanks a lot Maine. You ruined it.
Northeastern’s win streak ended last night at seven and now it looks like a very, very long shot the Huskies make the NCAA tournament. Although they remain at 18 in the PairWise, Northeastern pretty much needed a sweep this weekend to gain some ground on the teams ahead of them. The NCAA tournament looks to likely be out of reach at this point, barring a Hockey East championship.
Other than the four goal first period on Friday, the Huskies did not look very good. They were outplayed in just about every other period, especially in the game on Saturday. I’m not sure if the team took the foot off the gas, assuming that Maine would be an easier opponent than they were, but they certainly were out worked. While Maine was doing a great job in front of the net and getting rebounds, Northeastern defensively was standing around and not doing a whole lot of anything. Except for the first period of the series, this was an ugly weekend of Northeastern hockey.
Now that we have that out of the way, hopefully the Huskies can erase that from their minds and focus on a HUGE week with three against BU, then the Hockey East tournament. I moved on past this weekend and on to the Beanpot pretty much instantly after the final whistle blew. Let’s just pretend this weekend never happened. I’ll see you tomorrow at the Garden.
Northeastern heads to Orono this weekend to take on the Black Bears of Maine in the second to last series of the regular season. For some reason, everyone talking about this series brings up how tough of a place the Alfond is for opposing teams.
I ain’t scared of you, Maine. So what if Northeastern hasn’t won there since 2008? The Huskies beat UConn last week against their bizarre home ice advantage at the XL Center; how much tougher can Alfond be? There is nobody in the country hotter than Northeastern. The Huskies haven’t lost since January 10th, the only loss of 2015. Aside from annihilating UConn last weekend and beating UMass the week before, all of those wins for Northeastern came against good teams. Maine’s 2015 sports losses to UConn and UMass (though I will concede they do have a couple good wins). I don’t think there’s anyone on that defense who can stop this red-hot Northeastern offense from doing whatever they want.
The Huskies will also be coming out guns blazing to try to better their position for postseason play. They’ll need these wins to try to grab a first round bye in Hockey East (or the matchup against UMass; same thing I guess). Obviously, if Northeastern wants any shot at making the NCAA tournament they need all the wins they can get. They especially can’t afford to lose to lesser opponents. So, don’t expect the Huskies to be looking ahead to the Beanpot on Monday. Leave that to those of us babbling incoherently about them on the internet.