Hockey East officially announced changes to both the format and seeding structure of their league playoff for both the men’s and women’s league necessitated by the ongoing pandemic.
This year’s Hockey East playoffs will be single elimination all the way through, with all games played at the home venue of the higher seed.
The league will play mid-week play-in games for teams seeded 7-10, while teams seeded 1-6 will receive a bye to the quarterfinals. The quarterfinals will take place the following Sunday, followed by the semifinals the next Wednesday, and then the championship game will take place on the following Saturday.
The perhaps more notable part of the announcement is how the league will go about seeding teams. Rather than seeding teams based on the traditional points-based system, the league announced the creation of the Hockey East Power Index, a mathematical system that will take into account the uneven, unbalanced schedules teams have played this year.
From Hockey East:
The HEPI takes into consideration the number of games played, wins and losses in regulation, overtime, and shootouts, and a team’s home and away split. It then values wins and losses based on each team’s strength of schedule and their opponents’ strength of schedule, objectively, to rank the programs accordingly. It does not factor in points traditionally earned in the standings table that has been used to seed teams in past seasons.
It’s tough to tell how valid this system will be without seeing the nuts and bolts of it, but from afar, it seems like a fairly reasonable solution to the problems created by teams playing vastly different numbers of games, and against varying levels of competition.
Like the Pairwise, the holistic nature of the HEPI means team’s percentages and rankings are constantly changing with each result added.
Hockey East also made official that the team with the highest HEPI at the end of the regular season will be crowned champion.
Here is how the league standings look as of today, February 10th:
Boston University is obviously the big beneficiary here, moving from 8th in raw points(because they’ve only played eight games) to second in the league due to their strong winning percentage. By-and-large, there aren’t a lot of huge changes from if you organized the conference by winning percentage.
Here is the table on the women’s side:
Vermont moves up to third place from their place in the traditional standings, but notably, does not pass Boston College, who has a slightly worse winning percentage than the Catamounts.