NCHC picks: Feb. 21

Matthew and I both had a dreadful week last weekend, going 3-4-1 (.437). On the year, I am 80-54-22 (.583), while Matthew is 77-57-22 (.564).

There are some big rivalry games on tap this weekend, as well as ones that could make a huge difference in the standings log jam. Unfortunately for Matthew’s chances of catching me, we are in agreement on all our picks this weekend.

Friday-Saturday, Feb. 21-22

Colorado College vs. No. 18 Denver (at DU Friday, at CC Saturday)
Candace: Denver got a tie/shootout win and win the last time around, but CC hadn’t started to play to its capabilities. I was impressed by the Tigers against Western Michigan last weekend. Denver hasn’t swept a series in a while, and I don’t think it will happen here. Denver 3-2, Colorado College 3-2
Matthew: Colorado College has had a rough season but has kept on battling to at least finish the regular season above the NCHC basement, and I think the Tigers will be rewarded Saturday when DU comes back to town. The Pioneers should beat CC at home though, and I think DU will end up feeling happy enough with two wins and a tie from four in the series and the Gold Pan in tow. Denver 3-1, Colorado College 4-2

No. 4 St. Cloud State at Miami
Candace: Miami has only won one game in the second half, and I don’t see them breaking that streak against the top team in the conference, even if the RedHawks are playing at home. St. Cloud 3-1, 4-2
Matthew: Miami’s results this season have been brutal and it hasn’t won a home game within 65 minutes since Dec. 7, and I don’t see the RedHawks getting back on the right track against a St. Cloud State team that seems to have figured it out again following the Huskies’ rough patch between the middle of last month and the start of this one. St. Cloud State 4-2. 3-2

No. 11 North Dakota at No. 20 Minnesota-Duluth
Candace: I was surprised that the Bulldogs got swept last weekend by St. Cloud. North Dakota has been playing very good hockey since late November, but home ice should be good for a win. North Dakota 4-3, Minnesota-Duluth 3-2
Matthew: Unquestionably the key series this weekend in the league, and I feel like this one’s too close to call. UND has been far from great on the road this season and Duluth has a sub-.500 record at home. That plus the fact I think UND is just about the better team in this series favors the visitors, but I keep thinking Duluth has to turn its home form around sometime. That said, UND also needs points as it tries to keep pace with SCSU at the top of the league standings. The biggest question for me, then, is which team wins which night. North Dakota 4-2, Minnesota-Duluth 3-1

Nebraska-Omaha at Western Michigan
Candace: Western needs to rebound from a disappointing outing last weekend against CC, and Nebraska-Omaha needs to stay in the home ice slot. I think split. Western Michigan 3-2, Nebraska-Omaha 4-1
Matthew: A key series here between two teams that are trying to give themselves a bit of breathing space in terms of their prospects of clinching home ice for the first round of the league playoffs. Similar to UND-UMD, too, in that UNO’s been just okay on the road and Western is below .500 at home. It’s another split for me. Western Michigan 3-1, Nebraska-Omaha 5-3