Hockey East picks: Mar. 5-7

 (Tim Brule)
The final weekend of the regular season with plenty of positioning on the line. My positioning against Dave? Well, it’s improved (how about calling one of those UVM wins last week!?), but time is so short a comeback seems highly unlikely.

Jim last week: 6-2-1
Dave last week: 4-4-1
Jim to date: 122-81-26
Dave to date: 129-74-26

Thursday, March 5

Vermont at Massachusetts
There isn’t a whole lot on the line in this single game that will close out each team’s regular season. Vermont has known its playoff fate for weeks, though last weekend of course surprised many with a sweep of Northeastern. UMass knows it has home ice and would clinch second place with a win, but at this point there isn’t a lot of difference in opponents if UMass stays in second or drops to third. Every quarterfinal series in Hockey East will be a grind.

Jim’s pick: UMass 3, UVM 2
Dave’s pick: UMass 3, UVM 1

Friday, March 6

Connecticut at UMass Lowell
Unlike the UVM-UMass game, this one has plenty on the line. The winner locks up a home ice spot. But for either team, if they lose it could result in heading on the road in the quarterfinals depending on the outcome of the other games this weekend. When these two teams faced off back in the first half, they were two low scoring, tight games with UConn taking three-of-four points on the week.

Jim’s pick: UML 3, UConn 2
Dave’s pick: UML 3, UConn 2

Providence at Maine
Last weekend, these two teams played the front end of a home-and-home series with Providence earning the 3-2 win at home. Now the series shifts back to Orono where the Black Bears have been close to unbeatable. If Maine wins, they keep alive hope for home ice depending on the result of the UConn-Lowell game. A win or tie for Providence guarantees them a spot in the playoffs.

Jim’s pick: PC 3, Maine 2
Dave’s pick: Maine 4, PC 3

Fri. and Sat., March 6-7

Northeastern vs. Boston University (Fri. at NU; Sat. at BU)
Both of these teams are fighting for one of the final playoff spots in Hockey East and both are coming off a loss. For BU, the loss might have been expected to first-place Boston College. For Northeastern, being swept on the road at Vermont stretched their losing streak to four games. NU is still without Tyler Madden, but you have to believe this team has the ability to rally and play desperate hockey.

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

New Hampshire vs. Boston College (Fri. at BC, Sat. at UNH)
This is one of those scenarios that you might say works out for UNH. They need both wins to have the best shot at making the playoffs and are playing a BC team that has nothing more to play for having clinched first-place in the league. Or do they? Jerry York has been around the game long enough to know that a) you want to enter the playoffs on a high and b) every game is meaningful in the PairWise.

Jim’s picks: BC 4, UNH 2; UNH 2, BC !
Dave’s picks: BC 4, UNH 2; BC 3, UNH 2