Here are the three things I think I learned this week.
Three: Merrimack could be a force yet again this year.
I’ll admit it. I thought this season would be a tough one for the Warriors. They’d excelled the past couple years despite the attrition, but they’d just lost too much this time around. Which is why I picked them to get swept by Northeastern this past weekend.
Wrong and wrong.
The Warriors were one of only two teams to go 2-0 this week and easily take home the prize as having enjoyed the best weekend. (Sorry, Boston College fans. Your team is ranked number one in the country and the defending national champs. It’s supposed to go 2-0.)
Want to know what team now leads the league in offense? Merrimack (3.5 goals per game).
Hey, there are still a few leaves left on the trees and turkeys are still strutting around farmyards with their heads still on their torsos.
But when it comes to Best Early-Season Story, the Warriors get my vote, hands down.
At the other end of the spectrum…
Two: Maine’s slide down the cliff continues.
Yes, I know I sounded the alarm about the Black Bears two weeks ago. But at least they had yet to begin their Hockey East schedule. Since then, however, they’ve lost four more games, all within the league.
They now rank last in the standings. Last in overall league offense (1.11 goals per game). Last in overall defense (3.33 goals against per game). And although their penalty kill has been okay (81.2 percent), their power play has been an appalling 1-for-44 (2.3 percent), rendering them last in special-team net (minus 9).
What I said previously about leaves on trees and turkeys with their heads still attached applies to the Black Bears. But it’s hard to see reasons for a turnaround anytime soon.
One: Home ice has been extraordinarily dominant.
Look at the league’s top five teams in the standings. Collectively, they’re undefeated at home (14-0-1).
Unimpressed? You figure top teams should dominate at home?
Well how about this? Hockey East’s next four teams are collectively .500 at home with only Massachusetts-Lowell under that mark (and only by one game).
Maine’s 0-5 home record serves as the only exception to the rule of cozy confines in your own barn.