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Hockey East playoffs first look: Of highs, mediums and lows

Eight teams remain as we bid a fond adieu to Vermont and Northeastern. And as we take our first look forward into the Hockey East playoffs, there are some teams that enter on highs, some on lows and some somewhere in between. Here is a look at each.

On highs: Heaven isn’t high enough

Really, I feel like there is only one team entering on an absolute high and that’s Boston College, which has won 11 straight. As good as BC was down the stretch last season before losing to Colorado College in the opening game of the NCAA tournament, this year’s team is better. A lot better. I’m not sure if BC will lose another game, but I also feel comfortable saying that they won’t. This club is on fire, allowing less than two goals a game in every game in February and March. A team will have to crack the code if they’re going to beat the Eagles.

The other team I will put in this category is Massachusetts-Lowell. I sincerely believe the River Hawks are still a level below BC, but UML’s sweep over Providence propelled them to the #2 seed in Hockey East for the first time since 1996. UML also gets to take on the Friars, at home, in this weekend’s quarterfinals. It is very difficult to win four straight but if UMass-Lowell can do so, that will be a very hot team heading to the Garden.

In between: Keeping fingers crossed

There are so many teams that enter the playoffs playing decent hockey, yet still it is difficult to guarantee wins next weekend. The first is Massachusetts, which won its way into the playoffs in the final two weekends but have to face red-hot BC. Put the Minutemen against any other club and I’d be giving them half the chance. Feel like any team playing BC next weekend would have its work cut out for them.  I do feel like both Maine and Merrimack are playing pretty well heading to the playoffs. Friday night was a bury for Merrimack, in my opinion. Maine’s 1-0 win on Saturday wasn’t impressive but was the example this team can get the job done in a one-game scenario. I also believe that New Hampshire will be a dangerous team in the quarterfinals. Even with a loss to Maine on the final day, UNH is facing a Boston University team that simply isn’t playing well heading to the playoffs.

On a low: Send the life rafts

Two teams are in dire straits heading to the quarterfinals. Boston University earned a win on Friday in a game head coach Jack Parker said his team didn’t play well and then lost on Saturday to drop to the third overall seed. Add in the ongoing investigation into the conduct of the hockey team, BU is a team in trouble. They may survive the first round but New Hampshire, a playoff tested team, isn’t a good matchup for the Terriers. At the same time Providence has struggled in the last two weekends and will face a Lowell team that swept them by a combined 9-3 score this past weekend. Throw in that the Friars are the #7 seed and that seed hasn’t won in Hockey East history and you may believe this is a team behind the eight ball.

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  • bulldogs

    UMD didn’t win in overtime on Saturday night.

    • Scott Reed

      Not officially, but those extra 5 seconds were a gift to UND

      • Sioux Poo

        UND is a goon squad and their fans are drunk buffoons.  

        • North Dakota!

          You’re a drunk buffoon for thinking that North Dakotan’s are drunk baffoons. Just because you’re jealous of how awesome North Dakota is, how great the people are from here, and how amazingly amazing the hockey program is here doesn’t give you the right to bash on people that you wish you were but sadly are not. You need to calm down. GO SIOUX!!! 

          • SiouxHockey33

            YOU TELL EM BRO!!! GO SIOUX! THE SECOND HALF SURGE IS ON!

        • Haters-gon-hate

          yep, such goons. hard nosed hockey gets you nowhere-look at the bruins. real smart man. i personally like to watch hockey with as little hitting as possible.

          • WearThemWithPride

            Do you wear pink panties and fly a rainbow flag

          • puckhead

            Maybe you should just watch the ladies play then, if you like low impact hockey.

            So stick your hand down the back side of your pants and push your undies out for between you butt cheeks and go watch the ladies play.

            GO DOGS! 

          • SiouxHockey33

            puckhead get your facts together. A) hitting may not be allowed in womens hockey, but it still is a contact sport. B) dont bash womens hockey because there is ALOT of skill involved in the game, and in my opinion some of the players have more skill than some of the D1 mens players. C) fans just looking for the fights and big hits in games is runing mens hockey, i know that it is a big part of the game, but its not what hockey is all about. hockey is about creative passing plays, scoring amazing goals, seeing a goalie completely rob someone, and great team play. so before you make a comment like this again be sure to get your facts together bro!

      • bulldogs

         2.5 seconds, right?  but totally ridiculous I agree…

  • DU_Fan

    Saturday night’s DU-MINN game was worthy of a Frozen Four game!!! The refs (Thul and Bokal) called probably the 2 best games at Magness Arena in the last couple of years. With the exception of a horrible non-offsides call, by Keltie, their judgement was perfect. Was really nice to have important games without Anderson, either Shepherd, or Adam……

  • Csitzman

    Have to disagree on the Rau suspension.  The penalty should have been at least 2 games, if not more.  As you have stated, it was pretty clear that he lined the guy up for a cheap shot.  You seem to think that just because Zucker did not end up with a major injury that the league should just ignore a dirty hit.  There are too many players ending up with serious injuries and it is time for a major crackdown on this stuff.  I like a physical game, but there is no place in hockey for a late, blind hit and smacking a guys head around.  

    • DU_Fan

      As one who was there, I agree that he should have been given a Match Misconduct which would have put him out of Saturday’s game. Standing up for the refs though, who controlled both games perfectly, they knew the play would be reviewed by the WCHA office. Zucker released the puck about 3 full seconds before the hit and was on his way to the bench for a line change. Rau is not a dirty player, he usually is the one getting checked very hard due to his size, but this was a bad hit with an elbow to the head.

      • nogofer

        Do you WATCH Rau?  NOT dirty?  Are you kidding?  Instigators across the hockey world emulate him…

    • Hockey25

      Are you serious? get your head out of the sand! Take a look at JT Brown’s hit or Kristo’s hit and then get back to me. These hits had more intent, and either player received a game suspension. Actually, Brown’s hit came in the third period when the game was pretty much over, so why is this ok? Also, Blood throws a punch at Rau in the hand shake without suspension? I also think Rau shouldn’t have received the extra game suspension – hit from behind – NO – hit to the head – NO.

      • nogofer

        Remember Mark Alt?  OK, we got back to you…

  • Ring_of_Fire

    The argument put forth that the “consequences” of an illegal hit should, in some way, determine the punishment is completely asinine.  Should Brad Malone have had his hockey career ended for him because of the consequences of the Jesse Martin hit? 

    Even the most blindingly homer-istic Denver fan would say, “no”.

    Rau’s hit was late AND intentionally to the head.  With the NCAA’s focus on eliminating violent contact to the head, a game misconduct plus a one game suspension was ABSOLUTELY the right outcome, here.

    I don’t often praise the WCHA or its officials, but to their credit, they definitely got this one right. 

    • DU_Fan

      Even though I am not fond of you catagorizing any fans a “blindingly homer-istic”, and those that disagree with you as “completely asinine”, I do agree with your thoughts. Brad Malone’s hit on Jesse Martin had horrible results but, truthfully, it was a combination of an intentional charge and the fact Jess Martin put himself into a vulnerable position. Like I stated before, Thul and Bokal did a nice job this weekend and knew the hit would be reviewed. Those of us in attendance had no doubt that both Zucker and Rau would not be available Saturday.

      • Ring_of_Fire

        Apparently I should have been more clear.  I wasn’t singling out any particular team’s fans.  In fact, ANY team’s fans can be “blindingly homer-istic” at times. 

        To whit:  North Dakota fans claiming that Malone didn’t charge Jesse Martin.  Gophers fans claiming that the Rau hit was clean.  Denver fans claiming that Paukovitch didn’t deserve a suspension for the Bina hit.

        Those that cannot or will not see past their rooting interest to realize when something is/was blatantly and irrevocably wrong are “blindingly homer-istic”…regardless of WHICH team they cheer for. 

        (FWIW, I am a DU season ticket holder and was “in attendance” as well…)

        • Siouxhockeyrocks

          Agreed.  I just saw the JT Brown hit on Blood.  Dirty as they come.  Then Saturday Blood gets his first CFB.  Now that being said….It seems like nearly every game I’ve seen this year or read about there has been a checking from behind penalty.  CFB HAS TO GO!  There is no place for it and  I’m sure we can all agree.  Time for college hockey to crack down.  

          Rau deserves his penalty and suspension.  Where were the other suspensions?  Its a complete joke.  Bad boarding penalties, CFB, and contact to the head are all deserving of a suspension.  Kristo should’ve had one as well.  I’m a Sioux fan and have to say it’s been a fault of all teams.  I think the Sioux only have 3 CFB’s all year.  I know they’ve been on the receiving end of more than that.I propose that the first major penalty of these types deserves at least an additional game suspension.  If the player receives a second major of Boarding, CFB, or contact to the head he must sit out 2 complete games or more.  And a third should be the remainder of the season or at least 5 games.

          I love physical play and wish for it to continue but please no more of this.  

          • Undsioux

            CFB is a bad deal, people get hurt. That being said, I sat in the 1st row for both of those UMD games. It’s unbelievable to me how many times a player purposely turns their back on an approaching player. I get that the “hope” is that the other player, traveling at full speed, will suddenly stop or that the hit will draw a penalty but the risk players are putting themselves at in these situations is ridiculous. I don’t know if it’s coached but guys are getting hurt doing this.
            In the end, they need to allow the grab check that keeps the player from getting demolished

  • guest

    will the gophers play their way out of another NCAA tourny?

  • GUEST

    Good god, don’t the Sioux fans realize how ignorant they are (ref’s suck, other team full of goons, we had a player injured) and they sound like Packer fans if there team goes 5-11.     

    • nogofer

      You don’t understand hockey so we undersrtand…

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