The Chaos Is Back In Town

Submitted by Brian on March 6th, 2018 at 2:36 PM

3/2/2018 – Michigan 6, Wisconsin 5 – 19-13-3, 11-10-3 Big Ten
3/3/2018 – Michigan 7, Wisconsin 4 – 20-13-3, 11-10-3 Big Ten

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keystone flops [Bill Rapai]

Just when you think Michigan has banished chaos from its ranks, Wisconsin rolls into town. This weekend's playoff series was, in a word, bonkers. Michigan scored on their first shot Friday; Wisconsin scored on their first shot Saturday. In between there was a lot of hyper-aggressive forechecking from the Badgers, power play goals by Michigan, and wave after wave of odd-man rushes both ways. Your favorite and mine was a four on one(!) set up by Quinn Hughes and finished with authority by Dakota Raabe and Niko Porikos:

This is the hockey equivalent of Brent Hibbits throwing down that thunder-dunk on Isaac Haas. It was that kind of weekend.

In the aftermath, Wisconsin is wondering what happened to their season

“We expected more out of this group,” said sophomore center Trent Frederic, who led the team with 17 goals. “It is what it is. It’s hard to look back and say we could have won here, could have won here.

“I wouldn’t say we really ever got any bounces all year. Last year, some stuff went our way. Maybe we weren’t as fortunate or maybe that was ourselves. But it just felt like one of those years (where) we were always fighting it.”

…and your author agrees. Michigan played the Badgers four times in their Hey We're Good Now second half and got more or less run out of the building twice. That did not happen against anyone else. One of those times they got run was Friday, a 6-5 Michigan that saw Wisconsin pile up a 53-29 shot advantage. It was all for naught because Michigan was 4/5 on the power play. The only other team that's handed Michigan their ass like that this year is—sigh—Ohio State. OSU is fighting for a one seed. Wisconsin's season is over because they are 5 games below .500.

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[JD Scott]

Wisconsin is almost terrifying. They're VCU on ice. They crippled Michigan's breakout Friday in a game that felt immediately out of hand, but Michigan scored first because one of their defensemen let a puck dribble by him and suddenly Michigan had a two-on-one gifted to them. It continued in this vein, which Michigan scoring slam-dunk PP goals as the Badgers got the puck to the left point and tried to shoot it through four or five bodies, with some success.

In the aftermath there was nothing to do but be glad those maniacs are done and hope that Michigan gained some valuable experience at breaking out of the zone against a heavy forecheck. I guess they were resilient? When Wisconsin punched, Michigan punched back. That they had to punch back after they flung the puck from their defensive zone directly to a Wisconsin stick and then fished the puck out of the net… well, they fixed that on Saturday, a much saner game by shot counts (but not goals). Nicholas Boka's return gave Michigan a second pair of defensemen who have the confidence and skill to break that forecheck, and the tables turned.

The bid's locked in now and the rest of the season is gravy. But also BC, BU, North Dakota, and Minnesota are down or flailing towards the finish line. There's no juggernaut this year, and now that Michigan's in they've got as good a shot as anyone. As long as they stay out of the box.

[After THE JUMP: a mercifully boring pairwise section and an invitation for small schools to jump in a lake.]

PAIRWISE

It's all over but the shouting. CHN's Pairwise Predictor as Michigan at 100.0%. That .0 implies there's some rounding going on there, and there is apparently a one in a thousand chance that everything goes wrong and Michigan drops to #13. That would still be a bid in all but the most perfectly apocalyptic scenarios. They're in.

They're also at the top of their seeding range at #7. They will be a 2 or a high 3. Given the regional locations and tightly bunched field in the 2-3 area, it really does not matter where exactly they fall. They could fall behind some teams with near-identical RPIs and it would be, like, whatever man. FWIW, KRACH thinks that Northeastern and Providence would be good draws amongst the plausible first round opponents. Dropping to a 3 and getting swapped around so that they pulled the #5 or #6 overall seed would be the least friendly draw—there's a big gap between Michigan, currently #7, and Denver, currently #6.

BULLETS

How good is this team, and how bad are the bits that are bad? The hockey team's main conundrum: save percentage. Hayden Lavigne's save percentage is .910, which is 38th nationally amongst 72 qualifiers. Lafontaine is at a grim .899. Last year Lavigne was at .912; Nagelvoort had a .921; Lafontaine a .911.

Why has Michigan's goaltending stayed static or declined despite a much improved team? Here are various bins in which you can apportion blame:

  • dumb luck
  • poor play from the goaltenders
  • a terrible penalty kill
  • an increased quality of 5v5 chance allowed

The last item on this list almost cannot be the case, as anyone who watched last year's team will tell you. The penalty kill, though…

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College Hockey News unfortunately does not have national rankings for these categories but I've poked around and the PK save percentage isn't that unusual. It's not great; it's not crazy bad. What is unusual is the sheer quantity of PP shots Michigan gives up. They're dead average in penalty minutes but a team like Penn State, which is in their area in PIM, has allowed 22% fewer power play shots.

I don't think Michigan can fix their PK this year or they already would have. "Stay out of the box" is an absolute imperative for the rest of the year.

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this again [JD Scott]

Reviews! I'd like to find the guy who thought reviewing zone entries was a good idea and tell him he is bad and should feel bad. Hockey offsides is already the worst rule in sports without goals being wiped off the board because 30 seconds ago someone was a fraction offsides in a way completely irrelevant to the play.

Ditto Brendan Warren getting ejected for a shoulder to shoulder hit that was gone over with a fine toothed comb. It's at 1:50 here:

If that's a major you might as well make hockey no-check. And if that's a major that you interrupt the game for five minutes to look at… woof. A Saturday review was even worse because it took 15 minutes and resulted in nothing at all.

Review is out of control in all sports. One minute and you're done should be the rule. Anything you can't fix in a minute isn't worth fixing.

ALSO. You should be able to bat a puck in with a stick that's above the crossbar. Disallowing those goals doesn't change anyone's behavior—people just bat at the puck and hope it's legal—so it doesn't actually improve player safety. Allow people to do a skilled thing, remove some reviews, and increase scoring a little by removing that rule.

Zero sympathy. Pearson flipped a Michigan Tech commit a few weeks back, prompting Tech Hockey Guide to wonder about the long-standing "gentleman's agreement" that college hockey actually had until recently. Yes, the snake oil thing was actually off limits—more or less—in college hockey, as there was a D-I wide agreement not to contact verbally committed recruits in an effort to get them to flip. This is no longer the case:

On October 6, 2014, Mike McMahon of CHN reported that in the spring of 2014, at the annual AHCA convention in Naples, Florida, representatives from all NCAA DI discussed the merits of the longstanding gentlemen’s agreement. For many years leading up to this time, the gentlemen’s agreement, between all DI coaches, dictated that coaches would cease contact with a recruit once that recruit made a verbal commitment to another program. The idea was that once a student athlete made a decision, that decision would be respected by other coaches. Following a heated discussion, a vote was held, and the results showed that the gentlemen’s agreement would be kept in place. Despite this result, several coaches were said to have stated that they would not adhere to gentlemen’s agreement. With this revelation, the agreement was dead, and DI college hockey changed.

And this is bad:

The big, powerful DI hockey institutions seem to have benefited most from the dissolution of the gentlemen’s agreement. These programs have unmatched resources to commit to recruiting efforts, and they have turned their efforts to include both uncommitted players, and players committed to other programs. Within the last year, Michigan Tech has lost recruits to both Minnesota-Duluth and to Michigan. While it is impossible to determine the level of contact coaches had with recruits while they were committed to Michigan Tech, it would be foolish to dismiss the possibility, especially in the case of Pearson at Michigan.

Well, tough nuggets. If Tech wanted Jake Harrison so badly they could have signed him and had him on campus this year—he's a '99. Instead they wanted a 20 year old freshman and no competition after their offer. Big schools shouldn't be playing that game anymore.

I could not have a tinier violin for small schools who are worried their guys are going to get poached. It's schools worried about bigger schools poaching their recruits that have created and maintained the worst championship format in sports, because they'd rather have the barely weighted plinko of a single elimination hockey tournament than best two out of three. It's small schools that banned Yost from hosting regionals because people actually attended them and instead sent them to a rotating selection of near empty buildings in the middle of nowhere. It's small schools that turned college hockey recruiting into a race to find the oldest guys you can cram onto campus. This from a couple years ago is ridiculous:

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70% of college hockey freshmen had to spin their wheels for a year—and half of them for two—not going to college. 27 different programs have an average age of at least 22 this year, in a sport where redshirting is nonexistent. The vast majority of those players are not NHL prospects, so they are getting their degree later, entering the workforce later, and starting their post-hockey careers later. Why? So small schools can compete better. To get mad at larger schools for calling your bluff about what's good for the game and poaching some of these guys is serious chutzpah.

Small schools built this dumbass tournament and this anti-player recruiting regime. As far as I'm concerned they can go to hell. I'm glad Michigan is taking whatever they want from the forces in college hockey that make a mockery of it.

Comments

Charlestown Chiefs

March 6th, 2018 at 2:58 PM ^

I was at the game Saturday for the 15 minute review and still have no idea what it was about.  Were they reviewing entry into the zone or the contact with the Badger player where he laid there as if a sniper got him?

Alton

March 6th, 2018 at 3:06 PM ^

They wanted to call a 5-minute major, but neither ref saw it on the ice.  In the playoffs, they have the option to review for a major (you can only call a major or a "too many men" penalty from the tape).

The refs really wanted to find it, obviously, but I hear that the contact did not show up on any of the camera angles. 

stephenrjking

March 6th, 2018 at 3:08 PM ^

I'm not knowledgeable enough to put a date on this, and I could have some things wrong, but:

Red's early great teams were built on recruits from all over the map, many of them from Canada. The '96 title game was loaded with Canadians playing vital roles. Guys like Turco and Halko and Botterill and Muckalt and Madden and Morrison. Some of these guys had good pro prospects (Botterill and Morrison were both high draft picks) but at the time college wasn't a very popular route to the NHL, and guys who made it that way were exceptions.

But then the NTDP started as US hockey was rising. By 2002 Michigan's roster was mostly American, guys like Mike Cammalleri being the exception rather than the rule. The freshman class that year was loaded with young American guys that were about to be drafted; Michigan continues to have 10-15 guys a year who have been drafted, even in these down seasons.

Big schools like Minnesota, North Dakota, BC, and Michigan were swallowing these prospects up. Smaller schools were staring at an abyss; the ECAC, which has a lot of ivy league and ivy-type schools, looked like it would never compete for a national title again.

They responded by getting older. Phil Kessel types would go to Minnesota, play a year or two, and go to the NHL. Small-ish schools could pluck 20 year olds out of the USHL, put them on the ice, keep them in their system for four years, and face down the NHL-bound hotshots with 24 year olds that had been skating together for almost half a decade.

Miami rode this to the top of the CCHA. UMD rode this to a national title. And, most spectacularly, Union carved through its league and the NCAA tournament and absolutely destroyed a Minnesota team loaded with draft picks in the national title game a few years ago.

It's a different game now, and Mel is playing by the new rules. I'm not as bitter toward the small schools as Brian is, but he's right about one thing: The intransigent interest groups that are wrecking the tournament so that they can play in regionals as empty as their own sparse home arenas are bad for the sport. 

*Note that while I follow college hockey pretty intently I am not the best expert on these trends and some who have followed this specific issue more closely may be able to provide better and/or more correct insight.

Alton

March 6th, 2018 at 3:25 PM ^

All of the way back to the 1970s and 1980s, Minnesota claimed moral superiority in the recruiting world because other schools recruited "overage Canadians."  I'm fairly certain that phrase comes from John Mariucci himself.

Note that there are 2 elements of criticism there:  the recruiting of "overage" (i.e., they have aged out of Juniors) players and the recruiting of Canadian players.  Minnesota had their recruiting niche, and what's a recruiting niche worth if you don't claim that using it makes you morally superior?

Feel free to ask any Minnesota hockey fan over 50 or so what they think about 20-year-old Freshmen.  There is a definite Party Line in Minneapolis on subjects like that.

Alton

March 6th, 2018 at 3:54 PM ^

My memory of college hockey starts in about the same year that the era of Major Junior Canadian players ended.  Yes, I believe that those Murray Armstrong teams started the trend to older players.

I'm taking a look at Michigan's 80/81 roster, and they had a couple of Canadian players who were 20 when they were Freshmen--Brad Tippett and Kelly McCrimmon, both very good players.  Most of the Canadians were 19-year-old Freshmen, and one (Joe Milburn) was 16, according to HockeyDB.  Most Americans were 18, some were 19.  That, of course, also has to do with Canada's high school system, so perhaps it doesn't really mean anything.

I also know that when Michigan played (and dominated) Minnesota in the early '90s, Minnesota fans were convinced that Michigan's Canadian players were all "over-age," and found that fact important enough to occasionally say out loud or post on internet message boards.

ironman4579

March 6th, 2018 at 5:58 PM ^

Canadian high school players being overage is a misconception. Only Ontario has/had the extra year, meaning graduates would be 19 instead of 18. Graduation ages in the rest of Canada (or at least Western Canada) were/are the same as the US.

Alton

March 6th, 2018 at 3:26 PM ^

Kudos on your "Zero Sympathy" editorial, Brian.  There is literally nothing to add...except this:

Small schools also created this officiating regime where negative, defensive hockey is enabled.  During the NCAA playoffs, pay attention to the number of boring 2-1 and 1-0 games controlled by physical but otherwise untalented 24-year-old left wings.  Do we want hooking called away from the puck?  Not if you ask the WCHA coaches.  Take a look at shots on goal per game, conference-to-conference and team-to-team.  Tell me there isn't a negative correlation between shots on goal and average age.

(Note:  Jeff Jackson at Notre Dame isn't at a "small school," but is an exception).

stephenrjking

March 6th, 2018 at 3:30 PM ^

I remember the days when we used to pump college hockey for its superior on-ice product to the NHL. The NHL isn't perfect, but the situation is certainly not the same as it was.

Alton, I believe you've said in the past that BU's defensive strategy against the '97 Michigan team changed the sport. Given JJ's tactics since he went to Notre Dame, and Ron Mason's total abandonment of offensive hockey at MSU, how do those things play into the on-ice trends in the game?

kevin holt

March 6th, 2018 at 3:44 PM ^

Agreed, but it did solve an actual issue that was happening occasionally which was relieving pressure by shooting it over the glass. Now, that brings up a question: why isn't it just the same consequences as icing? Should icing be a penalty? Obviously not. So it's dumb. They could do the same thing they did with icing, which is to not allow a line change unless there's a time out.

Offsides solves an actual problem as well, and it would be really tough to play defense if a combination of forwards could just weave around and break into the zone while the puck was still at center ice instead of having to time it properly.

Rules that don't solve actual problems are the worst ones. Intent to blow the whistle has no purpose except to fuck teams [read: Michigan] over.

Kevin13

March 6th, 2018 at 5:38 PM ^

to say it is not on purpose. These guys do a great job of handling the puck and could fling it into the stands, without it looking on purpose, just to get a stoppage. I think that rule has a good purpose and needs to say untouch.

I do agree the intent to blow the whistle is stupid. Was it blown it or not, play should only stop when the whistle is actually blown, not supposedly when someone was thinking about it.

Charlestown Chiefs

March 6th, 2018 at 6:23 PM ^

How about when Glendening was killing a penalty and iced the puck with a wrist shot all the way down the ice over the glass?  First, holy hell that's impressive.  Second, there is zero chance he meant to do that on purpose and no benefit to it.  Result?  Delay of game penalty.  That's just one of the many times it has been obvious that they did not intentionally do it.  Should not be an automatic penalty.  

MaizeyBlue

March 6th, 2018 at 3:36 PM ^

I think that softball should go the way of hockey.  Could you imagine 16 pre-determined locations and 8 pre-determined Super-Regional locations?

Coming to you live from Boise, ID we have game 1 of the Super Regionals between Michigan and Florida!  Announced attendence: 84.

 

lhglrkwg

March 6th, 2018 at 3:50 PM ^

Small schools built this dumbass tournament and this anti-player recruiting regime. As far as I'm concerned they can go to hell. I'm glad Michigan is taking whatever they want from the forces in college hockey that make a mockery of it.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamen

Look, we like the small schools. We want them to stay around and stay relevant in D1. Many of us miss playing the Northern's and the Western's of the world, but a bunch of schools with no shot to ever win a national title have way too much pull in college hockey and continue to push for neutral site, one and done, random hockey so maybe their 15-seed, #35 Pairwise team has a shot at knocking out goliath when a best of 7 series probably sees most of those teams lose 4-1 over and over again.

I hope I live to see the day the tournament does something reasonable like home site regionals or maybe best of 3 format - potentially all the way through the frozen four

stephenrjking

March 6th, 2018 at 4:11 PM ^

"Small schools" are vital to the sport (depending upon what you mean--UMD and Denver are a lot smaller than Cornell, to take one example, but the athletic priorities are different). And the sport needs the teams that currently play hockey to continue to do so for the health of the sport. That means they need something.

But killing the sport to save it is not the right answer.

The no-brainer format is to offer the top 8 seeds the right to host their first-round game, and then allow the top four remaining seeds the same opportunity after the first round. 3-game series get spoken about and they are a fun idea, but I suspect that such a scenario is unworkable for television and arena scheduling. OSU and Wisconsin, to take two familiar examples, have obligations on their arenas besides hockey, and at least a single game gives them a better chance to either use their own arena or find an alternate (Nationwide Arena, Dane County Colisseum, etc) option.

So, week one is a single game at the top 8 seeds with the start times staggered to allow most of them to be seen on tv; week two is a single game at the top 4 remaining seeds. Taking the current pairwise and giving imaginary autobids to the regular season winners of each conference (that is, Mercyhurst gets the Atlantic autobid and bumps Bowling Green) and making a single flip to avoid a conference first-round matchup, you get this:

#16 Mercyhurst @ #1 St. Cloud State

#15 North Dakota @ #2 Notre Dame

#14 Minnesota @ #3 Cornell

#13 Nebraska-Omaha @ #4 Ohio State

#12 Providence @ #5 Minnesota State

#11 Penn State @ #6 Denver

#10 Northeastern @ #7 Michigan

#9 UMD @ #8 Clarkson

Right away we have a more just system because Penn State and North Dakota aren't hosting games as lower seeds. Minnesota State fans who got jobbed a couple of years ago get to see a playoff game at home. And Yost would be bananas hosting another NCAA tournament game, this one justly. 

Timing can be worked out. I'll bet there's a slot sometime between Friday and Sunday that OSU can play at home. Notre Dame and North Dakota, an attractive matchup, gets a primetime Saturday slot on ESPN U. And ticket sales are way, way better.

Alton

March 6th, 2018 at 4:33 PM ^

You get something like this:
 
FRIDAY
Minnesota at Cornell, 7:00 ET
Penn State at Denver, 7:30 MT
 
SATURDAY
Minnesota-Duluth at Clarkson, 2:30 ET
Mercyhurst at St Cloud State, 4:00 CT
North Dakota at Notre Dame, 7:30 ET
 
SUNDAY
Northeastern at Michigan, 2:30 ET
Providence at Minnesota State, 4:00 CT
Nebraska-Omaha at Ohio State, 7:30 ET
 
That would be a fun weekend of viewing.
 
The only difference is that I wouldn't feel a need to stick to #9 through #16 being locked into their spots.  They should be able to regionalize the tournament a little.  (e.g., swap Northeastern and Minnesota-Duluth to reduce travel, as well as Providence and Minnesota).
 

stephenrjking

March 6th, 2018 at 6:58 PM ^

Agree about swapping lower seeds to regionally acceptable locations. And I might pull the Sunday night game and add another game on Saturday. There are currently 6 games played on Saturday during the tournament, four won't be awful. But this would be a great tournament to watch.

Alton

March 6th, 2018 at 4:41 PM ^

You know, I would like 4 rounds of best-of-seven.  It doesn't get better than that, in any sport.

Except we need to limit ourselves to things that the NCAA would actually approve.  If we start asking for best-of-three hockey tournament, the NCAA will absolutely ignore us.  I just don't see any chance--the only team sports that aren't single-elimination are baseball and softball, and not coincidentally they are both sports where you can play 2 games in a day.

There are certainly pros & cons, and I will admit the pros outweigh the cons to best-of-three.  But a really big "con" would be that ESPN would feel free to ignore the first rounds, because they certainly aren't making room for 24 college hockey games in one weekend on their networks.

Alton

March 6th, 2018 at 5:04 PM ^

Back when it was a 12-team tournament.  I remember it well.  I really think that some of the problem with going to neutral-site regionals was that it was a "package deal" with eliminating the best-of-three format.  The NCAA wanted to eliminate best-of-three, and it was presented to them as synonymous with neutral sites.

I don't think it's possible any more, from a "governing body approval" standpoint, to have best-of-three.  Maybe I'm wrong, but I also believe that schools need to fight one battle at a time, and the battle is getting the tournament out of these empty arenas.

We have a template of a team tournament that works with 16 teams:  the men's lacrosse tournament.  We can simply push for hockey to go to that format, and there's the solution.  Once that happens, we can argue about the first round format, but let's cure the real disease first.

stephenrjking

March 6th, 2018 at 6:49 PM ^

One thing not mentioned about the challenge of best-of-3 series in the NCAA vs the conference: Conference tourneys with best-of-3 series are very common. So common, in fact, that teams reserve the space for the series on their schedule and even on occasion sell it as part of the season ticket package. Since home series are such a likelihood (close to 50%) it makes sense to reserve the arena for it.

Not so with the NCAA tournament, when at most 8 teams host that first round. Some arenas are just too busy to block out three or four different weekends. 3-game series would result in many more scheduling conflicts, and more higher seeds playing unjustly on the road.

I think 3-game series are nice, but there are advantages to one-game series as well. The win-or-go-home nature of the games lends to excitement that is actually palpable when there are fans in the building. No one who was present at the Yost regionals in 1998, 2002, or 2003 will ever forget how electrifying it was. One-game knockouts keep that intact.

lhglrkwg

March 6th, 2018 at 5:19 PM ^

I suppose my wording wasn't helpful - I was aiming at the 'mid-majors' of the sport. I would not consider your Denver or your UMD in that category. I mean the Atlantic Hockey and WCHA teams of the world pushing for the neutral site to continue essentially because they know it's normally their only shot at winning a game or two

Kevin13

March 6th, 2018 at 5:43 PM ^

that smalls schools are vital. I would rather see NCAA hockey expand rather then kill off little schools.  Keep the tourney a one and done for now, so these teams do have a chance to pull off a major upset, the chance of a small underdog taking out a goliath in a 3 game series are almost null and void. Few years back when Holy Cross beat Minnesota was great for the sport.

Do think it makes sense to have the first two rounds at a school site which would be packed and then have the Frozen Four at a national site.

lhglrkwg

March 6th, 2018 at 5:24 PM ^

I'd say the main differences are that hockey games are much more vulnerable to a random bounce affecting the outcome of the game than a basketball game going into the 60s or 70s is.

I'd say a reasonable comparison to basketball would be an equivalent percentage of teams. D1 hockey has 60 teams or so, so 16 is 27% of the entire sport so up the NCAA tournament to a 94 team bracket and basically have them play 'first team to 10 wins'. Knowing both tournaments decently well, that feels like a comparable situation. You'd have a loooot more top seeds losing just because of fluke circumstances which is part of what makes the hockey tournament frustrating. It's like a whole season of hard work goes down to a weighted coin flip

Kevin13

March 6th, 2018 at 5:51 PM ^

anology to say an entire hockey game in a one and done situation is equivalent of playing a tourney BB game to the first to 10.  Upsets are part of the sport and what makes it exciting and fun to watch.

Each team needs to come out and play it's best from the drop of the puck and let the best team that day win. Sure sometimes a bad break goes against you and you could loose, but again that's sports and it's huge upsets that people remember for years and add to the allure of a tourney.  You do a best of 3 and the chances of a cinderella team winning is probably reduced 10 fold. Let there be some upsets and random results that happen in the tourney. It's not always fun to just have the best teams always advance. Give fans the occassional underdog to add to the excitement.

Vasav

March 6th, 2018 at 7:48 PM ^

FiveThirtyEight did a series of articles a few years back on the big four North American sport leagues. In short, football and basketball are more geared towards favorites and home field advantage on a per game basis. Baseball and hockey are almost always 50/50 contests:

 

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/on-any-given-sunday-nfl-favorites-…

EDIT: Moneyquote, "In hockey and baseball, even the worst teams are generally given a 1 in 4 chance of beating the best teams. Meanwhile, in the NFL and NBA, teams like the 2013 Jacksonville Jaguars and the 2014 and 2015 Philadelphia 76ers are sometimes given no more than a 1 in 20 chance by odds makers. And while only about 1 in 100 NHL or MLB contests feature a heavy favorite (75 percent or higher), about 1 in 4 NBA and NFL games reach such a standard. That is, about a quarter of NFL games each weekend are bigger mismatches than the most lopsided baseball or hockey games — think the Dodgers hosting the Phillies or the Sabres traveling to Pittsburgh."

There's another article they had where they talked about how many games each professional league would need to have a regular season that was "fair," but a) I think the per-game analysis is more relevant and b) I can't find it in a google search so here you go.

wile_e8

March 6th, 2018 at 5:25 PM ^

Single elimination leads to some randomness in pretty much every sport, but the low scoring, high variance nature of hockey makes it extra random. Once you add on the fact that college hockey already usually features weekend series that would combat the randomness and it seems extra stupid to stick with single elimination.

stephenrjking

March 6th, 2018 at 6:55 PM ^

Single-elimination is exciting for basketball, not necessarily fair. The NBA, which uses 7-game playoff series to determine winners, is the most predictable and least random postseason in sports. The best teams win almost all the time. 

The NCAA basketball tournament is exciting in part because the best teams do not always win. A matchup, a coaching decision, a cold shooter; any number of things can cause a favorite to struggle, and consequently to lose. In a multi-game series, most of those teams would come back from one game down to win. But that's not interesting television, and it puts a lot of miles on student-athletes who aren't making any money. 

Hockey is more random than basketball. Add to that a neutral site with, in some cases, as few fans as players have played in front of all season, with strange bounces off the boards and often bad ice, and you have a very random situation that makes it difficult to play the best hockey.

Frankly, I just want the games at home sites. I don't care if Michigan has to go on the road occasionally in these scenarios--it makes it all the better if they can win. Home hockey playoff games would be so exciting.

Instead they're going to be a huge drag.

Alton

March 7th, 2018 at 11:32 AM ^

That sounds exhausting:

FRIDAY--seed 1 v seed 4, seed 2 v seed 3

SATURDAY--Saturday's losers play; Saturday's winners play

SUNDAY--The 2 1-1 teams play

MONDAY--The 2-0 team plays the Sunday winner

TUESDAY--If the Sunday winner wins on Monday, the 2 teams play again (if necessary)

So, who is the fan who is buying tickets for 7 games in 5 days?  Giving up an entire weekend, plus the next 2 days?  And who wants to watch a hockey team play its 5th game in 5 days anyway?  That will give you some awful hockey.

Double elimination works in baseball and softball, because baseball and softball can play multiple games in a day.  Baseball regionals are only 3-4 days, softball regionals only 3.  And, of course, those sports are less tiring for the player in general than hockey.

College hockey double elim wouldn't work--not for the player, and certainly not for the fan.

Kevin13

March 6th, 2018 at 5:46 PM ^

back in the tourney and do feel they have as good as a shot as anyone who gets in. Get some good goal tending and a break here or there and your in the Frozen Four so who knows. Go Blue.

Hill.FootballR…

March 6th, 2018 at 6:51 PM ^

As a former college hockey player, your Zero Sympathy section is spot on.

The current system makes a large percentage of schools to prefers players who lose one to two years of their lives just so they have a chance to get a scholarship. This has affected the entire recruiting landscape of college hockey. They need a rule that freshman are under a certain age, or otherwise come to campus as sophmores, juniors, or seniors based purely on age. Will this happen, no, because the NCAA doesn't care about the athletes. 

Getting rid of the gentlemen's agreement will help a little, especially if Michigan and other "big" schools start poaching the better older player's when they lose a top recruit to other hockey leagues.