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Loose pucks: Think about the places perhaps, where a young man could be

March 12, 2013

Three things that are championship-quality:
1) Being tops.

For the first time in league history, everyone in Hockey East has played 27 games and every single team in the conference had fewer points than Lowell. The River Hawks are the best team in Hockey East on the back of this incredible second-half run and it’s nice to finally just soak it in for a day or two. The team can’t do that, obviously, but we’re fine with having a couple minutes to just let it roll around in our heads before we start writing a preview and Two Minutes’ Hate for Maine of all the stupid teams on the planet. In winning this title, Lowell also more or less guaranteed itself another NCAA appearance, in that a whole lot of scenarios would have to break against the River Hawks for them to not make it. What a world we live in.

2) The penalty kill.

Lowell was hit with 15 penalties in this series over the weekend, which is obviously more than they’re accustomed to seeing. We don’t remember the last time we saw the River Hawks hit with 12 minors and 10 penalty kills in a single game, and can’t be bothered to look it up right now, but suffice it to say it’s been a while. However, despite all the time on the PK, Lowell was exceedingly effective. Providence was just 1 for 15 on the weekend, and more importantly 0 for 10 on Saturday, and in fact, the penalty kill was so effective that Providence managed just eight shots on 16:33 of power play time.

3) It’s playoff time.

We of course very much live for the idea of watching the River Hawks in the playoffs, and this year the desire to see them succeed in the postseason is even greater than it was last year. That’s because of the two very different courses Lowell took in dealing with its playoff opponents last season. It went out somewhat meekly, and surprisingly, in the Hockey East quarters last year before knocking off Miami in the NCAA tournament two weeks later, so we got both the lows and the highs. Now, we hope the taste of last year’s defeat by Providence still lingers like a festering sore in Lowell’s mouth, and that it motivates them to rip Maine’s guts out starting on Thursday.

Two things that are worse than UNH’s weekend:
1) Friday night.

Not a great way to end the regular-season home slate and not a pleasant game to watch for purely aesthetic reasons, but now at least Lowell has the chance to make it up to us, and to you, with two breezy Ws on late in the week. They can do it with ease.

2) Drawing Maine, if only for what we’ll hear about it.

In case you’d forgotten that Lowell lost the season series to Maine, the Disrespectors will be out in full force all week to remind you. Lowell went 1-2 against the Black Bears! They gave up nine goals in three games! One of the losses was in Lowell! And so forth. What very few will point out, and even fewer will point out in a non-derisive fashion, is that Connor Hellebuyck was in net for all of zero seconds in those games, and that’s going to make what we are fairly certain is a big old difference. We’ve come to understand that the big freshman goaltender is pretty good.

Stat of the Week
With Lowell finishing tops in Hockey East, it got us thinking about how they did it, and how narrow the entire league was. It was crazily narrow.

First of all, the one point separating first from second happens constantly. In the seven seasons since Vermont joined the league, it’s happened five times. Last year was one of the two aberrations, in which BC won by three points. However, that’s not the narrowest margin, as the first- and second-place teams have actually tied twice in league history (1996-97 and 2002-03).

The gap between first and third was also the closest ever, beating out the three-point difference in 2oo6-07, previously the tightest year in Hockey East history. The same is true for fourth place (beating 2006-07’s three points), and fifth as well, when the margin was six points.

The five-point difference between first and sixth is, you won’t be surprised to find, the slimmest ever. The previous record was nine, set in 2007-08.

The 12-point gap between first and seventh, and first and eighth, were not records, however, as the difference of 10 and 11, respectively, were both set in 2010-11.

Lowell finished just 14 points ahead of the first team out of the playoffs (Amherst, haha), but also didn’t break the record of 12 set in 2010-11), and finally the 20-point difference between Lowell and dead-last Northeastern was a record, eclipsing 2010-11’s 22 points.

For the record, Lowell had the fewest points (34) for a league winner in Hockey East’s 10-team era. That didn’t set the all-time record, though, which was just 30, set back in 1989-90. But to be fair, that was back when they only played 21 games in a Hockey East campaign. In fact, Lowell’s league-leading points-per-game was just 1.26, the lowest total in league history by a decent margin, beating out the 2010-11 total of 1.33.

It ain’t easy to get to heaven when you’re going down
Seeing your alma mater win the league is a pretty great feeling. You should try it some time.

One Comment leave one →
  1. C Dub permalink
    March 12, 2013 10:19 pm

    I am leaving this comment having only made it to the third sentence in this entry (rest assured, I will read it through momentarily). I just wanted to restate the obvious, and say that this is the best blog in the world. That is all.

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