Weekend Catchup: Hockey Situation

Submitted by Brian on February 28th, 2012 at 11:29 AM

Hey, kids. I've been vague contact with the e-world over the past few days—just not at the exact moment when the site blew up—and I've got all these opinions and stuff.

Michigan goalie Shawn Hunwick tries to keep Alaska Fairbank's Chad Gehon, right, from scoring during second period action of Saturday, Janaury 22nd's clash between the two teams at UM's Yost Ice Arena.
Lon Horwedel | AnnArbor.com

Not relevant. / Lon Horwedel/AnnArbor.com 

Actually, there are few opinions here since I absorbed the games over twitter. Sounds like Friday was a total debacle in which Shawn Hunwick had his first truly bad game in a long time and John Merrill was again responsible for a very important goal. Saturday night was just another Gongshow performance, what with Michigan having to kill nine power plays against the worst team in the league. Yost Built has a better picture of what happened.

Michigan didn't skate Chiasson late in the Friday game and benched him in favor of Serville on Saturday. That sixth defense spot is obviously a sore spot; I wonder how much leeway either guy will get now that it's dyin' time.

Clare isn't great shakes himself. I don't mind him on the PK because when the puck ends up on his stick he can fling it down the ice. Even strength that puck is going to sit on his stick way too long and end up stuck in Michigan's zone. I think we're all regretting the way the Burlon thing turned out by now.

Pairwise. Even so, Michigan has finished second in the league and remains a one-seed in the PWR. Since BGSU is not a TUC and didn't swing any important COP points (all of which were against leaguemates) the only damage to Michigan's resume was to their RPI. That was slight and other one-seed aspirants had crappy weekends. mfan_in_ohio explains:

In fact, an oddity about the Pairwise rankings is that losses to bad teams hurt less than losses to good teams, in that Michigan's record against TUCs was unaffected.  Also, Ferris only managed one point this weekend against Western, Lowell took only one point from Merrimack, and Denver split with North Dakota.  So Michigan ends the weekend in 3rd place in the Pairwise, trailing only #1 Duluth and #2 BC.

At this point the Duluth comparison is largely out of Michigan's hands. It's all about the TUC record in that comparison and Duluth has approximately a two-game lead. Unless they get less than a split from SCSU this weekend it'll be tough to pass the Bulldogs.

Michigan's other lost comparison is against BC, and that's all about RPI. BC is on a nine-game win streak and has turrible Vermont next, so don't get your hopes up until the playoffs.

Michigan probably has to win the CCHA to get either of these comparisons; even if they do so the two teams above them will have an opportunity to hold serve.

Looking down, it's all about RPI. I count six teams that are potential threats if they do better than M in the playoffs—Ferris State, BU, Lowell, Maine, Miami, and Minnesota. Unless things fall very wrong the worst Michigan can end up is a low two seed. Since not all of these teams can do well in the playoffs, if Michigan gets to the Joe and goes 1-1 there they'll probably hold onto a one. This will be a lot clearer after this weekend.

CCHA. Michigan finishes second and gets the second-lowest seed to reach the second round. If there are two huge upsets in the first round that will be Alaska. If there is one that will be the OSU-ND winner. If chalk reigns that will be LSSU.

I'm not sure who Michigan wants. ND played them very tough earlier this year but have collapsed since that series, going 2-6 and playing themselves out of the tournament. Ohio State has done even worse since getting swept by Michigan in mid-January—1-7-2. LSSU is 4-6-2, which in this group of teams counts as on fire. I still think Notre Dame is by far the most talented team in there, so I'd prefer either of the other two.

Unless it's Alaska—highly unlikely—whoever Michigan gets will be a TUC even if they suffer a sweep. Lose that series and Michigan is not getting their #1.

Rooting interests. This will cause revulsion amongst many, but I think you might actually want Minnesota to do well. They're hosting this year because they host damn near all the time. If Michigan and Minnesota both end up one seeds they won't see each other in the regionals; Michigan will be going head to head with Ferris and UMD for the right to be the #1 at a dead building in Wisconsin.

While you're gritting your teeth about that, root against:

  • Minnesota-Duluth/BC. These are likely pointless but whatever.
  • The Threat Group listed above save Minnesota: Ferris, BU, Lowell, Maine, Miami.
  • Northeastern. This is a little bit of a risk for obscure BU-comparison COP reasons but they're near the TUC cutoff and losing them drops a loss off Michigan's TUC record.
  • Alaska. They're below the TUC cutoff and Michigan wants them to stay there.

Other than Minnesota, you might want to root for St. Lawrence, which amazingly has a longshot bid at getting over the TUC cliff. 



February 28th, 2012 at 1:17 PM ^

I think I suggested this awhile ago, but I always get confused for the first few uses of "RPI" in a college hockey article (until context makes it clear), because Rensselaer Polytechnic is of course a power (1954 & 1985 national champions; alma mater of Joe Juneau, Adam Oates, and Daren Puppa among others).

Maybe they could be RPI (NTRPI) to distinguish the Ratings Percentage Index? 

Or am I just the junkie interested in college hockey lines?

I Bleed Maize N Blue

February 28th, 2012 at 3:40 PM ^

RPI hasn't been too powerful lately:  since 2000-01 they have 5 winning seasons (2 just over .500), 7 losing seasons and one tournament appearance (last year, eliminated 1st rd).

They were more successful in the 90s with only a couple losing seasons, 2 tournament appearances (both 1st rd eliminations).  And of course the mid-80s, with 32- & 35-win seasons in '83-4 (lost both 1st rd games in tourney) and '84-5 (won the aforementioned championship).

Record by season link

I Bleed Maize N Blue

February 28th, 2012 at 5:01 PM ^

I never said they weren't relevant, but you called them a power, and I hadn't remembered them doing much recently, so I looked it up.

I had to look up Ned Harkness, too:  only coached the Wings for half a season, GM for 3 yrs in a period when I was just getting into sports (so memories are kinda dim), and an era for the Wings which is eminently forgetable.  I don't know that I'm surprised he had success with RPI - many coaches don't make a successful transition to the pros.