Playoff picks: Round 1

I already did some off-the-cuff analysis of the series in yesterday’s column, so here’s a little more. Don’t take me too seriously, though: Like the first games of the year, the first games after the holiday break, and the last games of the regular season, the playoffs have so little to do with precedent and statistics that making predictions is all but a total crapshoot.

This Weekend

No. 12 Colgate at No. 5 Rensselaer

Colgate broadcast link
RPI broadcast link
Video link
All three possible games will start at 7:00. This is that funny series where the victor knows exactly who it will play in the second round: If RPI wins, the Engineers are at Cornell next week; it’s Union for Colgate, should the Raiders score the upset. If Colgate guts out a road sweep, it will draw the Raiders even with RPI all-time at 55-55-3 (now 55-53-3 for the ‘Tute). The Engineers are 5-9-0 against the ‘Gate under head coach Seth Appert, 3-7-0 in their last 10 against Colgate, and four of the last six meetings between the teams have gone to overtime… including January’s 2-1 RPI victory in which Chase Polacek scored the game-winner on an OT penalty shot. The Raiders have not lost a 60-minute league game to RPI since 2002.

Prediction: RPI in three games.

No. 11 St. Lawrence at No. 6 Princeton

St. Lawrence broadcast link
Princeton broadcast link
Video link
Two years in a row, the Saints get foul playoff draws: Last year, they earned a home series, but drew North Country neighbor Clarkson; this year, they have no one but themselves to blame as they make the longest road trip in the league, from upstate to Garden State. Friday’s game is a 7:00 start, but Saturday and Sunday’s will (and would, respectively) start at 4:00. SLU has never lost a playoff game to Princeton (5-0-1) and has won three straight playoff series, but the Tigers swept St. Lawrence in the regular season by 5-1 and 5-3 margins. Princeton hosts a playoff series for the fifth straight season, and this year marked the first time since the current travel-partner scheduling system was enacted for the 1983-84 season that the Tigers have swept the Saints.

Prediction: Princeton in two games.

No. 10 Harvard at No. 7 Clarkson

Harvard broadcast link
Clarkson broadcast link
Video link
Friday and Saturday’s games will start at 7:00; Sunday’s, if necessary, will be a 4:00 puck-drop. Harvard is two wins away from 1,300 for the program’s history, and has won three of four all-time first-round series. Clarkson is hosting a series for the first time since the 2007-08 season, and own an 8-2-2 advantage over Harvard in their last 12 meetings. Each team scored a 3-1 win on its home ice this year, with the Crimson edging the Knights in Boston last Friday.

Prediction: Clarkson in three games.

No. 9 Brown at No. 8 Quinnipiac

Brown broadcast link
Quinnipiac broadcast link
Video link
All three potential games will be 7:00 starts. The Bobcats are 10-2 in ECAC first-round games, and 8-2 at the TDBank Sports Center. Brown is 2-1-2 against the Q in their last five meetings, with two ties in this year’s contests, but the Bobcats are 8-4-2 all-time against Bruno. Both teams enter the weekend feeling pretty good about themselves, as Quinnipiac notched commendable ties on the road at Union and RPI last weekend, while Brown recorded the home sweep of Cornell and Colgate.

Prediction: Brown in three games… with lots and lots of overtimes.