Northeastern finally got in the win column on Saturday night after nine failed attempts to do so. It was certainly a relief for Jim Madigan's Huskies, but the road out of the bottom spot in the SB Nation Hockey East Power Rankings is still a long and arduous one.
Having now seen every team in Hockey East, it is becoming clearer where teams stand and where teams might be headed. The most pleasant surprise in the early going of the season is Merrimack, but as much as this writer considered a hefty raise for the Warriors this week, he'll wait until Mark Dennehy's squad proves it can win on the road.
Last week's Hockey East Power Rankings can be found here. Here's a look at this week's SB Nation Hockey East Power Rankings, which the Terriers claimed the top spot in once again.
1. Boston University (6-1-1, 4-1-1 HE)
It might not seem like a result worthy of much hullabaloo, but any time you can walk out of Alfond Arena with a win is a positive result. That is especially true for a young team still trying to find consistency and finding a way to gut out a victory after falling behind in the first two minutes of the game. The injury bug is starting to hit the Terriers somewhat, but the team's overall depth should pull them through just fine over the next month.
Last Week: W 3-1 at Maine
This Week: vs. Maine (11/21), at UConn (11/22)
2. UMass Lowell (7-2-2)
A split on home ice against a lower-tiered Big Ten school certainly wasn't the result Norm Bazin was looking for, but with every team in Hockey East that played two games losing at least one last week, there is no reason to slide the River Hawks down in the rankings.
Last Week: W 5-3, L 1-4 vs. Penn State
This Week: at Notre Dame (11/20, 11/21)
3. Vermont (7-2-1)
Finally got to see the Catamounts in person on Saturday night against Providence. It's a typical Kevin Sneddon team. The overall team defense, including forwards backchecking, does a terrific job of blocking shots, getting sticks in lanes and forcing the play to the perimeter. The team speed is good, but a lack of finishers and an inability to perform on the power play might creep up to derail UVM later in the season.
Last Week: L 0-3, W 2-1 at Providence
This Week: at Connecticut (11/21), at Massachusetts (11/22)
4. Providence (4-5-1)
Nate Leaman's team is struggling to put together two solid games on the weekend which has to be concerning for the Friar faithful. Ross Mauermann has still yet to find the back of the net. A lot of concerning aspects to the Friars' play after a little less than a third of the season, but this writer still has confidence in Leaman's ability to turn things around.
Last Week: W 3-0, L 1-2 vs. Vermont
This Week: at New Hampshire (11/21, 11/22)
5. Boston College (5-5-0)
What fans and media members in attendance for last Tuesday night's 6-3 loss at home to Harvard saw was an absolutely abysmal performance by BC team that looked disinterested and as if it was just going through the motions. The Eagles rebounded for a win in East Lansing against hapless Michigan State. This weekend could be just what the doctor ordered for Jerry York's club: a visit to UMass and a home date with Maine. Let's face it, for as bad as BC has looked at times, there's way too much talent on the blue line and in goal for this team not to be in contention come March.
Last Week: L 3-6 vs. Harvard, W 3-2 at Michigan State
This Week: at Massachusetts (11/21), vs. Maine (11/22)
6. Notre Dame (6-5-1)
The Fighting Irish are experiencing a power outage on the man advantage, which certainly is a little baffling considering their talent that mans the power play units. At times on Friday the Irish looked very good, but at other times only ordinary. This writer is betting on Jeff Jackson's team progression as the seson goes along.
Last Week: W 3-2 (OT), L 1-4 at Merrimack
This Week: vs. UMass Lowell (11/20, 11/21)
7. Merrimack (7-3-1)
It's hard to not like what you see out of the Warriors. This is the best overall team speed that Mark Dennehy's group has had in quite some time. There is also a good mixture of fast, creative offensive players with roleplayers who get the intangibles done. If Rasmus Tirronen continues playing the way he is now, there is no reason to think Merrimack can't finish seventh or better.
Last Week: L 2-3 (OT), W 4-1 vs. Notre Dame
This Week: vs. Northeastern (11/21), at Northeastern (11/22)
8. Connecticut (2-5-3)
The Huskies had an inevitable letdown game against the Pioneers, an old foe from Atlantic Hockey, but give SHU credit. This is a big weekend for Mike Cavanaugh's Huskies. Two home dates, albeit in Hartford, against two of the top teams in Hockey East right now can go a long way in determining how consistent UConn can be this season.
Last Week: L 0-2 vs. Sacred Heart
This Week: vs. Vermont (11/21), vs. Boston University (11/22)
9. New Hampshire (4-6-0)
The Wildcats split with Northeastern over the weekend, but the result could have been better. The real problem this writer sees with UNH is the team's inability to finish on a consistent basis. There is no denying that there are good hockey players on the Wildcats, but a lot of them are more setup guys and good two-way forwards. The Wildcats have really lacked a true finisher since Stevie Moses. In other UNH news that comes as no surprise, Casey DeSmith was permanently banned from the hockey program.
Last Week: W 5-3 vs. Northeastern, L 1-2 at Northeastern
This Week: vs. Providence (11/21, 11/22)
10. Maine (3-7-1)
On a night that the school honored its 1999 NCAA Championship squad, the Black Bears gave a strong effort against BU, but came up short in the end. Friday night aside, this start should come as no surprise, but the lack of offense is a little surprising. Players such as Devin Shore, Ben Hutton and Blaine Byron should be enough to generate more offense on a consistent basis. This weekend ends a brutal stretch of five games, four of which are coming on the road, against UVM, BU and BC.
Last Week: L 1-3 vs. Boston University
This Week: at Boston University (11/21), at Boston College (11/22)
11. Massachusetts (3-5-0)
The Minutemen were off last weekend before their two home games this weekend against BC and UVM. The goaltending and defense is still in flux, but the most positive development for John Micheletto's squad is the scoring uptick from redshirt sophomore Frank Vatrano who seems to finally be getting his legs under him. Freshman Dennis Kravchenko has also been producing well. This is a young team that will be fun to watch offensively, but its ability to keep the opposition out of its net will be a recurring problem for the UMass.
Last Week: Off
This Week: vs. Boston College (11/21), vs. Vermont (11/22)
12. Northeastern (1-8-1)
The Huskies finally broke into the win column with Saturday's third period comeback victory over UNH. It almost seemed as if a huge weight was lifted off their collective backs. The same defensive issues are likely to plague NU all season, but can Clay Witt return to pre-February form of a year ago? A home-and-home against Merrimack this weekend certainly seems more daunting than it did a month ago.
Last Week: L 3-5 at New Hampshire, W 2-1 vs. New Hampshire
This Week: at Merrimack (11/21), vs. Merrimack (11/22)
Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.