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Loose pucks: Into the wild

March 9, 2010

Three things that decent:
1) Getting a decent opponent.

At first blush, of course Maine looks a bit daunting. Lowell’s never beaten them in the playoffs and historically can’t beat them in Orono. You look at that and go, “Wuh oh.” We get that.

But let’s look at this realistically: Maine is going to be without Scott Darling this weekend (and maybe for the rest of eternity), and the Black Bears’ other two goaltenders have, in their combined 16 appearances, earned a record of 1-9-0 with the only win coming against Merrimack, and the losses coming to Amherst (x3), Union (x2), UNH, BC, Providence and BU. Combined GAA for Shawn Sirman and Dave Wilson: 4.07. Combined save percentage: .847. Wilson’s career stats vs. Lowell are an improvement at 0-1-0, 3.98/.889.

And besides, Lowell may not have the best record all-time at Alfond, but look at it this way, it’s 2-1-0 in its last three there, right?

Oh and Gustav Nyquist is apparently very banged up.

2) Scott Campbell.

Still killin’ it. Hopefully the rest of the team follows his example and picks up their games.

3) A strong finish.

We know we were upset the other night, and we should have been, but at the same time, Lowell is 3-0-2 in its last five games, its longest streak without a loss since a run that went from Halloween to Nov. 21. Guess what the common factor in every game of this late-season run has been.

(Hint: Carter Hutton.)

Two things that are crummy:
1) Orono.

We ain’t going up there. Not happening.

2) Giving away points to crap teams.

We wrote almost the same thing we would have written today last week: Think how much easier things would be for Lowell this weekend if it hadn’t surrendered a draw to the Friars Catamounts on Saturday. Being two a points up on the three two teams with 24 28 points would be huge. Hell, Lowell has given away seven five of 12 points to the two teams outside the playoffs right now. Think about that. And then consider that the other three four teams that currently have a home ice spot have given up just six 13 of 32 combined (BC has taken all 10 of 12, Maine four eight of eight 12 with a home series against Amherst remaining, and UNH 10 11 of 12, and BU six of 12). That’s just dizzying.

Stat of the Week

The standings this year were pretty tight, huh? Well we went back and looked it up and they were, absolutely. But exactly how close were they?

Note: for the purposes of this exercise, we only looked at the seasons starting in 1994-95, when the league went to nine members and teams could be eliminated from the playoffs (henceforth referred to as the Elimination Era, or EE) and also differentiated between all-time EE and 10-team league (Vermont-Era, or VE). We also got rid of all the silly “shootout wins” nonsense from ’94-95 and ’95-96.

UNH won the league with 36 points, tied for the third-lowest league-winning total ever (34 being enough to win the league in 2002-03, and 35 in 2004-05), and second-lowest since the team went to 10 teams in 2005-06. The average league winner in the EE had exactly 37 points, but the number has been considerably higher (38.4) since the VE began.

BU technically finished fourth with 28 points, the lowest home ice total in the VE (avg. 31.6) and slightly below the elimination-era average of 28.69.

Lowell also finished with 28 points but finished fifth, the fourth-highest fifth-place total ever and well above the EE average of 25.13 but the second-worst VE total (avg. 29.0).

Vermont made itself the last team into the playoffs with 25 points, by far the highest eighth-place total ever and miles above the average eighth-place finish of 15.69, or 18.8 in the VE.

Northeastern narrowly missed the playoffs with 24 points, which we don’t have to tell you is almost twice the average ninth-place finish (12.69 EE, but 17.8 VE).

This was only the second time in league history that home ice was decided by a tiebreaker, as the fourth- and fifth-placed teams tied in 1998-99. The average EE margin is 3.56, and the VE margin 2.6.

The difference between first and fifth was eight points, only the third-lowest total ever (in 2005-06 only six points separated league champions from the first team without home ice) and even with the VE average. The margin was slimmer than the EE average of 11.88, however.

It was also the year with the slimmest margins between a league title and no playoffs, and home ice and no playoffs. In the case of the former, only 12 points separated UNH from Northeastern, well below both the EE average of 23.56 and the VE average of 20.6. As for the latter, a mere four points kept BU and Northeastern from swapping places. The EE average is 15.69, and VE average is 13.8.

Most interestingly, we think, the one-point difference between eighth and ninth is tied with four other seasons (1998-99, 99-00, 00-01 and 03-04) for sixth-lowest behind five seasons in which the drop-out team was decided by tiebreakers. That’s right in line with the VE average of 1.0, but the EE average, however, is still an even 3.0.

All of that goes a long way to telling you that yes, this is the closest top-to-bottom season in league history.

Don’t eat the berries

We’re thinking liveblog both nights (since Lowell is clearly going to sweep). We’ll get back to you on that though.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 10, 2010 2:31 am

    Lowell @ Maine
    Merrimack @ BU
    UMass @ BC
    Vermont @ UNH

    I think it is time for another “Support the Revolution in Hockey East” post.

  2. Justin permalink
    March 10, 2010 2:41 pm

    Indeed. I don’t know how the hell it happened again this year, but the Big Four finished in the first four slots. Ugh. At least I know who to root for.

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