ECAC Hockey picks: Week 21

This is the toughest time of the year to make predictions, because so many teams are playing on emotion rather than simple talent. It’s the time of year where a bottom-dweller could easily upset a top-four team, if they simply want it more… so here come some pretty brutal predictions, because frankly, I have no freakin’ clue what’s going to go down this weekend.

This year

Record: 128-62-21 (.656)

It looks like my dream of a .667 season is over, but really, I pretty much got there anyhow: I have been right more than twice as often as I’ve been wrong, since I never pick ties… and you know what? That’s pretty awesome.

This week

All times Eastern

Friday, February 25

Colgate at Yale – 7:00

Some of you loyal Raiders fans (I’m looking at you, Shablak) may think that I’m not giving the ‘Gate the respect it deserves, especially in light of its recent hot streak (4-1-0). But really, of those four wins, all of them came against teams that were more than a couple places ahead of Colgate in the standings: Clarkson, RPI, and Dartmouth. Could I have picked Colgate over Harvard? Yeah, and obviously that would’ve been the right call. But just like the other three games, I would be crazy not to pick Yale. If the Raiders want to prove me wrong again, have at it – I have no problem with a little wackiness entering the playoffs. As such, 4-2 Bulldogs.

Quinnipiac at Union – 7:00

One of these teams is 0-3-2 in its last five outings. One of these teams is gunning for first place, and controls its own fate in that regard. (Hint: It’s not the same team.) 5-2 Dutchmen.

Princeton at Rensselaer – 7:00

Princeton rolled through a 14-3-1 run midway through the season, but has only won once since (1-4-1). RPI had a 14-3-2 stretch around the same time (in which a win against Princeton was the final W of the streak), but is 1-3-0 since. Odd… very odd. What’s even more gutting for the Engineers is that of those three recent losses, two were at home, after only sustaining a single home defeat in the previous 13 contests at the Houston Field House. The Tigers are 7-2-0 on the road this year, and while ‘Tute fans may disparage me for it, I’m picking this game as my big upset of the week: 3-2 Princeton.

Cornell at Brown – 7:00

As hot as Cornell has been lately (9-3-2), Brown has been equally cold (1-7-1). Funny how fortunes change as the year slips by. (Brown’s case isn’t helped whatsoever by the loss of top goal- and point-scorer Jack Maclellan, who may well be done for the year with sliced tendons in his foot.) 4-1 Big Red.

Clarkson at Harvard – 7:00

Just like that, Harvard – like Colgate – has gone on a little run to keep things interesting: At 3-1-1 in its last five, the Crimson has scored more goals (15) in five games than it has in any seven-game stretch all year. Clarkson, meanwhile, hasn’t manufactured consecutive points – much less wins – since 2010. The Golden Knights are 4-11-0 since the holiday break, and the adequate offense simply hasn’t been able to compensate for increasingly miserable defense. I never would’ve imagined saying it two weeks ago, but… I’m picking Harvard. 4-3 Crimson at home.

St. Lawrence at Dartmouth – 7:30

The Saints and Big Green are a bit funny, in that they’re so similar yet so opposite: St. Lawrence has only won consecutive league games once all year (a weekend home sweep of Cornell and Colgate), whereas the Big Green have only lost back-to-back ECAC games once this season (last weekend, at – ironically – Colgate and Cornell). The Saints have never really demonstrated positive consistency, whereas the Big Green have been nothing but. 4-2 Dartmouth.

Saturday, February 26

Princeton at Union – 7:00

This is one of those reeeeaaally difficult ones, because I don’t know how hard either team will be fighting for this one. If Union has first place locked up, I’d take bye-eyeing Princeton… but if the Tigers lose at RPI on Friday… well, you get the idea. I’ll play the season as a whole, and take Union, 3-2.

St. Lawrence at Harvard – 7:00

The way the Crimson has been playing (in case you hadn’t noticed, “Crimson” is a singularity, which is unusual among team names), I’d be a fool to take St. Lawrence. That said, Harvard hasn’t been playing this well for very long, so let’s see if they can stick with it. 3-2 Cantabs.

Quinnipiac at Rensselaer – 7:00

Even if the Engineers should lose Friday, they’ll likely still be in the mix for the final bye come Saturday. QU is merely playing to maintain its position, not improve it. I’ll take the slightly more driven home team, 4-2.

Colgate at Brown – 7:00

If Bruno loses these games, I may have to re-institute The Brown Rule… and what a shame that would be. Where-did-that-come-from-Colgate over Brown in Providence, 3-1.

Clarkson at Dartmouth – 7:00

‘Tech: Set for a first-round home series before the game even starts, is my bet. Dartmouth: Odds are good that a bye is all but clinched. So what are they playing for? Certainty. Big Green in an odd we-want-it-but-don’t-need-it kind of purgatory game, 3-2.

Cornell at Yale – 7:00

After Princeton at RPI, this might be the game of the weekend: Yale will still hope to have a shot at a third straight regular-season crown; Cornell will be looking to cement a first-round bye. It’s an Ivy League contest, senior night, with a potential title on the line, so Ingalls should be rolling like a humpback on the high seas. Bulldogs in a true playoff atmosphere, 5-3.

We’re not done yet!

Look for an update on potential playoff seedings on Friday night after the games, and be sure to follow me on Twitter for news that isn’t quite elaborate enough to warrant a blog post.