Hockey East picks: Feb. 20-22

 (Tim Brule)

Well, it’s just about time to wave the white flag as the odds of me making my picks with any integrity and still finding a way to beat Dave have passed me by.

With Dave gaining yet another game last weekend, I’m eight games back. And unless I take the contrarian approach and pick opposite of Dave in most games (and I don’t think that’s fair to the readers, who deserve to know how I think each game will fall), there won’t be much chance of getting back into this race.

So hat’s off to the old man. He might as well have his victory lap on the way out the door!

Jim last week: 5-4-1
Dave last week: 6-3-1
Jim to date: 113-73-24 (.595)
Dave to date: 121-65-24 (.633)

Thursday and Friday, Feb. 20-21

Boston College vs. Northeastern (Thurs. at NU, Fri. at BC)
Northeastern is certainly feeling good about itself after winning the Beanpot and sweeping UMass Lowell last week. Goaltender Craig Pantano was strong in the weekend series against the River Hawks. But the Huskies will be facing a team that enters with three straight victories and also earned a weekend sweep a week ago over Merrimack. Goaltender Spencer Knight continues to be a difference maker, ranked in the top 10 nationally in both save percentage and goals against.

Jim’s picks: NU 3, BC 2; BC 3, NU 1
Dave’s picks: BC 4, NU 3; BC 4, NU 3

Friday and Saturday, November 21-22

Vermont at Maine
The Catamounts shocked many last weekend by taking a point away from Providence at home, just the third Hockey East point of the season for the Catamounts. One might believe that now they Vermont has been eliminated from the postseason that this team might play with reckless abandon and maybe prove spoiler. Maine already fell victim last weekend to UConn and needed overtime on Saturday to take a win away from the weekend. Could this be the ultimate spoiler upset?

Jim’s picks: Maine 3, UVM 1; Maine 3, UVM 2
Dave’s picks: Maine 3, UVM 2, Maine 3, UVM 1

Providence vs. Merrimack (Fri. at PC, Sat. at MC)
Like Vermont, Merrimack is playing simply for pride and the hope of being a spoiler at this point. The unbalanced schedule has the Warriors with just a single game remaining after this weekend’s two-game series with Providence and now seven points out of eighth place. They will face a Providence team that hasn’t had it easy of late and has slipped to for sixth place in Hockey East. This has to be the weekend the Friars make up some ground knowing the remaining two games are against Maine.

Jim’s picks: PC 5, MC 3; PC 3, MC 2
Dave’s picks: PC 4, MC 2; PC 4, MC 3

Boston University vs. UConn (Fri. at UConn, Sat. at BU)
A week ago, UConn did something no other team has done this season: beat Maine at Alfond Arena. They came within a goal of sweeping the Black Bears but settled for a split after an OT loss on Saturday. BU might be the hottest team in Hockey East of late, posting a 4-1-1 mark in their last six league contests. Last weekend, BU got a much needed sweep of upstart UNH and will attempt to ride that streak against a similarly tough opponent in UConn.

Jim’s picks: UConn 3, BU 2; BU 4, UConn 2
Dave’s picks: BU 4, UConn 3; BU 4, UConn 3 (OT)

UMass Lowell vs. Massachusetts (Fri. at UML, Sat. at UMass)
The Battle of the Bay State, the Clash of the Commonwealth. Whatever you decide to call this matchup, it’s two sister schools who, really for the first time since UMass brought back its program in 1994, are both top teams nationally when they face-off against one another. Both have had recent success – UMass coming off a Frozen Four appearance and Lowell just three seasons removed from their fifth straight Hockey East title game appearance. And both have a lot on the line this weekend both in terms of the Hockey East standings and in hoping to make their case for an NCAA tournament bid.

Jim’s picks: UMass 3, UML 1; UML 2, UMass 1
Dave’s picks: UMass 3, UML 2 (OT); UMass 4, UML 3