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Analysis: Breaking down the Hockey East Playoffs Race

Jeff Jackson's Notre Dame Fighting Irish are in the mix for the regular season championship in Hockey East.
Jeff Jackson's Notre Dame Fighting Irish are in the mix for the regular season championship in Hockey East.
Matt Dewkett

After an exciting and historic 64th annual Beanpot Tournament, full attention turns towards the Hockey East Playoffs race in what should be an exciting push to the finish line.

Boston College and Notre Dame are tied for the lead in the Hockey East standings. The Eagles and Irish both have 26 points with six games left. Behind them and in a three way race to keep up and secure a coveted bye in the first round are UMass Lowell, Providence and Boston University.

As much as the top four seeds is hotly contested, there is much intrigue at the bottom of the standings where just two points separates sixth place from 11th place. The race to finish above the last four spots is all so important with seeds five through eight hosting a first round playoff series.

About the only thing that is clear and not up for grabs is the clear divide between the top five teams in the league and the bottom seven teams. Hockey East usually boats its tremendous parity and top to bottom prowess, but that can't be said for the 2015-16 edition.

Team GP W-L-T Pts. Games Left SOS *
1 Notre Dame 16 12-2-2 26 Maine (2), @PC (2), BU (2) 1.13
Boston College 16 11-1-4 26 MC, @MC, @UVM (2), UML, @UML 0.90
3 UMass Lowell 18 10-4-4 24 @BU, BU, @BC, BC 1.47
4 Providence 16 10-3-3 23 UConn, @UConn, ND (2), @UMA, UMA 0.94
5 Boston University 16 9-4-3 21 UML, @UML, @UNH, UNH, @ND (2) 1.24
6 Vermont 16 5-9-2 12 @UNH (2), BC (2), @MC (2) 1.00
Connecticut 16 4-8-4 12 @PC, PC, NU, @NU, UNH, @UNH 0.98
New Hampshire 16 4-8-4 12 @UVM (2), BU, @BU, @UConn, UConn 0.94
Northeastern 16 4-8-4 12 @UMA, UMA, @UConn, UConn, Maine (2) 0.61
10 Maine 16 4-10-2 10 @ND (2), MC (2), @NU (2) 1.00
Merrimack 16 2-8-6 10 @BC, BC, @Maine (2), UVM (2) 1.00
12 Massachusetts 18 2-12-4 8 NU, @NU, PC, @PC 1.09

* Strength of Schedule (SOS) determined by averaging points/per games of opponents for each of games left to be played.

  • Boston College has an easier strength of schedule than Notre Dame the rest of the way. The Irish have the advantage of four home games compared to just two for the Eagles.
  • UMass Lowell would appear to be the team in the top five of the standings that could stand to fall the most based on its most difficult remaining strength of schedule and only playing four games when all other teams in top five have six games left.
  • Northeastern has the easiest remaining strength of schedule of any team in the conference. While the Huskies are likely out of position for a first round bye, it would be logical to forecast a climb in the standings for Jim Madigan's club.
  • UMass has the most difficult remaining schedule of the bottom seven teams and has just four games left. Therefore, predicting the Minutemen to be the No. 12 seed would be reasonable.

Boston College (4), Providence (5), Notre Dame (7) Boston University (8) and UMass Lowell (13) are inside of the all-important top 14 of the Pairwise Rankings. The 16-team NCAA Tournament field is looking at two teams certainly earning an automatic bid from outside of the top 16. Neither the WCHA nor Atlantic Hockey have a team inside the top 16 at the moment. Michigan Tech (18) and Robert Morris (19) are the top two teams in the WCHA and Atlantic Hockey, respectively.