If you’re gonna get a W, you gotta have the D

You’d figure that in general, winning teams score a lot and don’t give up much in the defensive end.  And losing teams… well, the other way around.  Well, duh.  Of course it’s true.  In general.

You’d also figure that winning teams have strong special teams and losing teams couldn’t score if you gave them a five-on-two.  And that’s sort of, mostly, kinda true.

But there are no absolutes.

When you look at special teams, you have a club like Boston University.  The schizoid third-place Terriers  have the league’s best penalty kill (88.3 percent) and by a wide margin, but they also have second worst power play (11.9 percent).   Northeastern’s third-best and Massachusett’s Lowell’s sixth-best man-advantage units rank considerably better than their teams’ positions in the standings.

The incongruities also exist for Team Offense, where a club like Maine ranks behind only New Hampshire and Boston College but remains a long shot to grab home ice.

The one place, though, where the correlation is almost absolute between success in the standings and statistical rank is Team Defense.  Check out the following rankings.

Scoring Defense G/GM
1 New Hampshire 2.04
2 Boston College 2.20
3 Boston University 2.44
  Merrimack 2.44
5 Northeastern 2.52
6 Maine 2.64
7 Vermont 3.16
8 Massachusetts 3.20
9 Providence 3.40
10 UMass Lowell 3.76

Notice anything?  Those are the exact rankings in the standings with the lone of exception of Northeastern and Maine flip-flopping fifth and sixth place.  

Is that a year-in and year-out absolute? 

No.  Last year, Lowell ranked as the second-best defensive team but missed home ice (narrowly).  Vermont ranked fourth but barely squeaked into the playoffs.  The year before that, New Hampshire took third place despite a defense that finished seventh.

So it seems as though the correlation between D’s and W’s is strong for all the obvious reasons but isn’t as absolute as this year’s perfect storm would suggest.

But if you go one step further and look at the playoffs, you’ll see that over the last ten years the Hockey East tournament champion ranked either first or second in team defense every year but 2007.  That year BC overcame a fifth-best D to take the title.  Other than that, though, the winner was either first (six times) or second (three times) in what is arguably the statistic of champions.

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Hockey East announced its monthly awards today with Gustav Nyquist (Maine) taking Player of the Month.  Kieran Millan (BU) earned Goaltender of the Month and Kevin Goumas (UNH) Rookie of the Month.

Nyquist led the Black Bears resurgence with 10 goals and four assists. Of his 10 goals, four came on the power play and two while shorthanded.  (Runners-up: Chris Barton (MC), Jimmy Hayes (BC) and Wade MacLeod (NU))

Millan went 5-0-1 in league games with a 1.47 GAA and a .954 save percentage. (Runners-up: Matt Di Girolamo (UNH) and Dan Sullivan (Maine))

Goumas scored 11 points on four goals and seven assists. (Runners-up: Adam Clendening (BU), Jordan Heywood (MC) and Brodie Reid (NU))

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Have you heard about Jim Connelly’s upcoming book?  It’s titled My Life with Jack.  (Not Parker, Daniel’s.)