Hockey East picks: Dec. 30-Jan. 4

I feel the need to knock on wood as I type this. But should all of the scheduled games on the Hockey East slate go off as expected, we will see, by far, the busiest weekend of the season as we turn the page from 2020 (can’t do that soon enough) to 2021.

So as I bid all readers an early Happy New Year, here are our picks for this weekend:

Jim last week: 1-1-1
Jim to date: 13-5-4

Marisa last week: 1-1-1
Marisa to date: 10-8-4

Wednesday, December 30

Massachusetts at New Hampshire
This is a difficult game to handicap. While UNH tends to be a good home ice team under Michael Souza, the stops and starts that the Wildcats have endured are relevant. UMass, on the other hand, has played three games in the last 11 days, putting forth a perfect 3-0-0 mark.

Jim’s pick: UMass 3, UNH 2
Marisa’s pick: UMass 4, UNH 2

Friday/Saturday, January 1-2

Massachusetts vs. Northeastern (Fri. at NU; Sat. at UMass)
These two teams have played some of the more entertaining games in recent years and based on both starting strong, you might expect more of that.

Jim’s picks: NU 4, UMass 3; UMass 4, NU 2
Marisa’s picks: UMass 4, NU 3, UMass 3, NU 2

Vermont at Providence
While the Providence team is still missing some key players (and its head coach) because of World Juniors, they’ve played so pretty good hockey without. It’s difficult to know what to expect from Vermont, but a 2-2 tie with nationally-ranked Northeastern in their last game out provides a lot of hope.

Jim’s picks: PC 3, UVM 1; PC 4, UVM 1
Marisa’s picks: PC 3, UVM 1; PC 3, UVM 2

Connecticut vs. New Hampshire (Fri. at UNH; Sat. at UConn)
Connecticut is playing some excellent hockey of late, highlighted by a 2-0 shutout of Providence this past week. If that continues, they’ll be a lot for UNH to handle.

Jim’s picks: UNH 3, UConn 2; UConn 4, UNH 2
Marisa’s picks: UNH 3, UConn 2; UConn 5, UNH 2

Sunday/Monday, January 3-4

Maine at UMass Lowell
Both of these teams have endured stops and starts due to COVID and both will be champing at the bit to play actual games. This likely isn’t the cleanest series as the pair shake off a lot of rust, but expect goaltending to be critical for both teams as neither features too much experience between the pipes.

Jim’s picks: UML 3, Maine 2; UML 2, Maine 1
Marisa’s picks: UML 3, Maine 2; UML 4, Maine 1