Edmonton Oilers coach Pat Quinn was in Vancouver this week talking about the playoffs. He led the upstart Vancouver Canucks to the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals, an epic seven-gamer against the New York Rangers that was probably the best finals in recent memory until last spring and the Pittsburgh Penguins’ improbable Game 7 win in Detroit.
He emphasized a point we talk about in college hockey, and that is forget who is a No. 1 seed and who is a No. 4 seed and look at who is playing really well heading to the field of 16. As we all know, get off the bus with the best players and you have a good chance of winning, but also get off the bus with the team that is playing the best and your chances in a one-and-done situation increase dramatically.
“We all remember the last Oilers team that made it to the Cup,” Quinn said. “They weren’t a real good team at the start of the playoffs, but they sure got good as the playoffs went on. Good enough to go four rounds, and get to a Game 7.
“Get in the dance, and you’ve got a chance.”
Team USA at the World Juniors had some hiccups early and got better as the tourney went along. Several teams in the NCAA tourney are in that boat as well.
Here are some quick notes on every team playing this weekend — how they started out and what they have done recently to look at which team might have the best chance to win this thing. These are the facts; you can interpret them any way you’d like.
Denver: Pretty dominant all season … 10-4-1 after 15, 20-6-4 after 30 … 10-game win streak late January to late February … 0-2 in the WCHA Final Five and 3-3 in last six.
RIT: Lost first five games, were 15-9-1 after 25 … currently on a 10-game winning streak in which have outscored opponents 45-13 with four shutouts … won the AHA playoff championship.
Cornell: 7-2-1 after 10, 12-5-3 after 20 and 8-2-1 last 11, including a four-game winning streak and a 230:30 consecutive shutout streak that extends over the last 11 periods played.
New Hampshire: Got to .500 at 6-6-3 and doubled win total with 6-1-1 run to get to 12-7-4 … went on a 3-1-3 roll to finish regular season … ended season by being shut out twice by Vermont after taking a 1-0 lead in the series at home with a 7-4 win.
St. Cloud State: Were 8-7-3 in January then went on a 9-0 roll … finished 3-4-1 but 3-1 last 4 … lost WCHA championship game to North Dakota.
Northern Michigan: Got over .500 on Jan. 3 at 9-8-4 … 10-2-2 since Jan. 29 … beat Ferris State and lost to Michigan in the CCHA championship.
Wisconsin: 6-3-1 after 10, 12-5-3 after 20 … 13-5-1 since Jan. 15, all in WCHA play … won 3 of last 4, lost WCHA semifinal to St. Cloud 2-0; won third-place game over Denver.
Vermont: Got clear of .500 on Dec. 12 at 7-6-2 … 11-7-2 after 20 … 4-3-1 last eight … shut out UNH 1-0 twice to win Games 2 and 3 of a best-of-three at UNH after a 7-4 opening-game loss … lost Hockey East semifinal game to Boston College.
Boston College: 5-3-2 after 10, 12-6-2 after 20 … 8-0-1 since Feb. 19 … 21 goals scored in last four games, 13 allowed … won Hockey East title with a 7-6 OT win against Maine.
Alaska: 7-2-1 after 10, 10-6-4 after 20 … 8-0-2 run to finish regular season, swept by Northern Michigan in Marquette in the CCHA semifinals.
North Dakota: 7-1-1 start, 9-6-3 at the semester break … four-game winning streak and 12-1 last 13, averaging 4.23 goals per game in that span … swept through the WCHA Final Five, beating UMD in the play-in game, Denver in the semis and St. Cloud State for the championship.
Yale: Went from 2-2-2 to 19-6-3 … seven-game win streak snapped the last day of the ECAC regular season … 1-3 last four, lost to Brown in the ECAC semifinals at home.
Miami: 8-1-1 after 10, 13-2-5 after 20 … 10-0-1 run in second half … 4-3 last seven … lost CCHA semifinal to Michigan; beat Ferris State to win the third-place game.
Alabama-Huntsville: 4-10-1 after 15, 9-14-2 after 30 … 2-0-1 to end the season; beat Robert Morris and Niagara (OT) to win the CHA playoff title.
Bemidji State: 13-2-1 after 16, 21-7-1 after 30 … 5-2-2 to finish the season and winless in last three … lost to Niagara and tied Robert Morris in the CHA championship.
Michigan: 4-7 after 11, 10-10 at the semester break … 16-13-1 after 30 … 8-1 last nine … outscoring opponents 28-9 in six-game winning streak.